Danielle Power-Silk is proof that if you know who you are and don’t put limitations on yourself, anything is possible. The 24 year-old fashion designer is based in Auckland, but her brand and designs are anything but confined to the local market. In the last decade, her designs have gone from Auckland to Melbourne and now Paris has come calling. “My designs have showed at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and I’ve received opportunities to showcase at Paris Haute Couture and Ready to Wear Week,” adds Danielle. And, her story doesn’t end there. So, while many 24 year-olds are waiting for their big career break, what is powering Danielle to greatness?
“I live by the motto, elevate your game until what you want chases you,” she says. That’s literally what’s happening, the fashion industry is chasing Danielle Power-Silk. Her high fashion designs caught the eyes of the people behind British Vogue, an industry stalwart magazine with an average readership of 1.5 million per publication. “They discovered me online and contacted me. I initially thought their email was spam, but when I realised it wasn’t I replied immediately with photos of my designs.” That enquiry from 19,000 kilometres away resulted in two features over two months. It was exposure that confirmed Danielle as a designer to watch.
Runways and luxury design was an unexplored world for Danielle, who wasn’t immersed in high-end fashion as a child. However, inspiration came in droves from teachers, local boutiques and a youth fashion show. “I had a teacher at intermediate who wore a soft pink and white Dior denim jacket. It had wonderful domes on it. On her last day, she actually left the jacket on my desk with a note, ‘Danielle, I think this belongs to you.’ It was her style and that jacket which sparked my fascination with design.” Come high school, inspiration from local boutiques and celebrity style icons transformed her ideas into garments. Danielle showcased her first ever design in 2011 at YMCA Auckland’s Walk the Line show at New Zealand Fashion Week. She recalls, “It was a sequin mini dress inspired by Lady Gaga and Madonna. I hand-stitched ostrich feathers over the shoulder to create a shoulder-pad look. It was a statement piece, something for the stage,” she smiles. One showing at Walk the Line wasn’t enough for Danielle, who was hooked by the design bug, “it gets quite addictive,” she says. Her designs graced the runway for a second and third year. “I won highly commended for a velvet lace dress, and cashmere wool coat with possum fur collar and cuffs.” She came back for a fourth year running, that time as a judge. Walk the Line, a fashion show run by youth for youth and powered by not-for-profit organisation YMCA Auckland, was Danielle’s stepping-stone to success. “It’s very empowering having your name on the label, and your garments seen by the public, people in the industry and buyers.” While Danielle’s not defined by her first design, she still has the garment and photos of its runway debut at home.
Since her Walk the Line days, she’s found her niche and run with it. “Luxury fashion with a provocative feel is my style. I take a lot of inspiration from the Tom Ford era at the House of Gucci from the 90s to 2000s. Sleek, sexy and empowering style. It made you want to be the girl in the picture,” she adds. Her first full collection graced the runway in the Next Generation show at New Zealand Fashion Week two years ago. Since then, Danielle and her team have been designing bespoke pieces and ready to wear luxury garments. “We live and breathe design. We do couture finishing, make sure each garment fits to perfection and is a beautiful, luxury product.” She’s currently hard at work on her new collection that will be unveiled next year. “It’s honestly the best work I’ve ever produced,” she says. While all the eyes of the fashion world, local and beyond, wait in anticipation for the big reveal, Danielle is staying grounded and maintaining a strong connection with her roots.
“I’m part Sicilian and part Lebanese, so, I’ve decided to set up an online shop and website in different languages and currencies.” And, while the glitz and glamour of Paris has come calling it might have to wait a couple of years. “I’m thinking of showing my collection at next year’s New Zealand Fashion Week. It’s a way of staying true to where it all started,” she adds. It seems staying connected to her roots and knowing who she is as a designer is the recipe powering Danielle to success. So, what advice does she have for young designers who want to follow in her footsteps? “Know your style and don’t put limitations on yourself,” she says. Sound advice to help power this year’s young Walk the Line designers to greatness.