Menswear extraordinaire Kiaya Daniels loaned us some exclusive threads and spilled on the collections secrets. Having played around with these baby on set we are certain, menswear, womenswear, or unisex, this collection is covetable, and this girl is going places.

Jamie: How would you describe your aesthetic? It's quite minimal, is this an aspect of your design?
Kiaya: Yes, very much so. The idea with the label is to create wearable pieces – this influences my aesthetic hugely. It’s a balance of designing directional and innovative garments, whilst maintaining validity and wearability. With this in mind, the minimal aspect of my designs came naturally. The foundation of my design aesthetic lies in tailoring. For this collection it was all about tailored sportswear. My aesthetic is also bold, textural, graphic and layered. It is intricate and complex. In contrast, to create that balance and maintain wearability, I concentrated on minimal, clean, understated and refined aesthetic elements also.

Jamie: Where do you gain inspiration from?
Kiaya: Inspiration can come from anywhere and for me, does come from everywhere. From nature or art, to people and media – whatever it is that resonates with me at the time and connects in a creative way. For the S/S 2014-15 collection I had a lot of different inspirations. It was about relaxed sophistication, which inspired the merge of street wear and sportswear with tailoring. I looked at the works and life or artist Romaine Brooks, at the societal boundaries of masculinity. I found inspiration in the people around me, in street style and the individual perceptions of garments and style.

Jamie: The pattern on this collection is quite quirky, can you please explain the process behind choosing it/drawing it etc?
Kiaya: This print is the main element of the collection, in which you can see the influence of Romaine Brooks. The line drawings in the print are all different artworks from Brooks work in the 1930s. As soon as I came across the artworks, I knew that I wanted to create a fabric print from them – I loved the graphic appeal, as well as the contrast of child like nature of the drawing, alongside the flirtatious content.

Jamie: The lines and shapes are very clean in this collection, does this again interplay with the minimal aspect?
Kiaya: Alongside the tailored aspects of the collection, the clean lines and shapes are indeed also a reflection of the minimal design aesthetic in the collection. However, it is again, also about balance – to complement and create cohesion with the bold colours and graphic prints of the collection.

Jamie: There were a few pops of pastel-the yellow look-and the green on the zippers etc-why those colours?
Kiaya: This is an interesting one. Originally, the collection was actually going to have a completely different palette, but I ended up changing it after nearly the exact palette came out in another collection in Paris Men’s Fashion Week. So I ended up choosing to go down the blue path and just built the palette as I went – quite a different method for me. The pastel mint green zips were largely based on availability, and the leather jacket design. The other garments with coloured zips, and the pastel mint green embroidery came as more of an afterthought. The chartreuse was inspired by some socks I saw somewhere and that chartreuse with that blue, I just love the contrast.

Jamie: Although the collection was quite quintessential menswear in some places with the suiting, there were lots of points of difference, specifically the skirt/kilt like attachments, or skorts and then the dress/vest look. Did you want to introduce femininity to the pieces through these shapes? What was the concept behind these shape choices?
Kiaya: The feminine inclusions throughout the collection were very much an intentional design move. Taking inspiration from Romaine brooks, who was most known for her portraits of women in androgynous or masculine dress, I wanted to flip this and explore the societal boundaries of masculinity and re-evaluate the commonly regarded values of menswear. The skirt and the kilt shorts were probably the pieces which pushed these boundaries the most, as well as the two sleeveless coats (or even tailored dresses). As much as they may not be viable or wearable for everyone, I wanted to show how a seemingly feminine piece, can work in menswear.

Jamie: In relation to the above-we shot some of the pieces on girls, the pieces almost seemed unisex, I mean who can resist a crisp tailored white shirt, skort set and bomber! How would you feel if they were worn unisex? Is androgynous women’s wear or unisex wear something you have thought about approaching?
Kiaya: I would completely understand a lot of the pieces being worn unisex. As I was making a lot of the pieces, I’d try them on and they’d be garments that I’d want to wear – I’d love to have the leather jacket in my size! If I ever venture into women’s wear, it would definitely have an androgynous feel about it. I’m sure it would be in a very similar style to my menswear, just with a few more skirts thrown in.

Jamie:On the MBFWA runway you teamed the looks with New Balance–was this a nod at the street wear sneaker vibe that's so popular right now or was it something else?
Kiaya:The decision to style the collection with New Balance sneakers at MBFWA was partially a nod to the street wear sneaker trend. I’m definitely a big sneaker fan myself, and am a big fan of the current presence of sneakers in men’s fashion. Though it was also about carrying through the vibe of the collection, into the styling. The collection was about relaxed sophistication, merging clean tailoring with street wear and sportswear – so I wanted this to be represented though using both leather brogues as well as sneakers in the styling as well.

Jamie: How was MBFWA? What’s the reaction been post presentation?
Kiaya: The MBFWA experience was so surreal! It was such an amazing opportunity to be a part of such a major, international event and I couldn’t have been more proud to be a part of it. Post Fashion Week, the response has been equally as surreal. All the press kicked off with Vogue posting the collection on Instagram, which was so exciting for me. Followed by loads of great reviews and a lot of interest from different press – I’m loving every second of it and can’t wait to see my pieces in a bunch of different magazines to come out shortly!

Jamie: Can you share any hints on whats in store for Kiaya Daniels in the future?
Kiaya: I really hope to be able to push the label in a big way within the Australian menswear market. In the not too distant future, hopefully you’ll be able to see Kiaya Daniels stocked around the country and making an impact on Australian men and Australian menswear.

Words/ Jamie-Maree Shipton

Photography / Jasmine Maher
Fashion / Jamie-Maree Shipton
Hair & Make-up/ Kate Logan
Fashion Assistants / Bridgette Hungerford & Sarina Meuleman
Models / Danny Fischer @ London Management & Montana @ Chadwick Models
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