Enjoy the Silence
Paying much attention to fabric and draping, Damir Doma begins womenswear, and a new line
Story by Ken Courtney / Photography by Estelle Hanania
In just three shorts years, Croatian-born German menswear designer Damir Doma has made quite a name for himself in the fashion industry. After graduating magna cum laude from fashion school, he had the insight to head to fashion hot spot Antwerp, where he worked first for designer Dirk Schoenberger and then for Raf Simons.
It was his time spent assisting Simons that broadened and shaped Doma’s perception of fashion and the arts. Simons — a pioneer menswear designer who so eloquently mixes high fashion with street wear and did so with the precision of a master artisan — created a new genre of menswear like nothing we’d seen before. His atelier was the perfect place for Doma to not only fall in love with fashion, but to hone his craft.
In 2007, Damir Doma the menswear line was launched, debuting during Paris Fashion Week to critical acclaim. Like his mentor, Doma’s collection occupies a space all its own.
Have you always been interested in fashion?
I grew up with fashion — my mother is a designer herself. When I was a kid, my sister and I spent quite some time in her atelier playing with fabrics and drawing. My first real fashion moment was when I was 13 years old. I bought this amazing Helmut Lang raincoat. I must still have it.
Can you tell me a bit about your design process, from concept to completion?
Basically my concept and my philosophy is ongoing, which means that I never stop creating new material. While I work on one season, I already know what I want to improve and change for next season. The biggest part of my work is the conceptual period and the selection of my materials. This is the base of each collection and that’s why I take all the time I need to build a really strong base. Once this is done the job is actually quite easy and quick.
Fabric and drape play a big role in your line. Can you tell me about your favorite fabrics to work with?
I spend a lot of time on the selection of the materials and I believe that it’s extremely important to match the right material with certain designs. I always try to be very sensitive when it comes to this. My tailoring is super soft. One of my philosophies is not to use anything that would change the character of the fabric, which means that I have to be very careful with my selection and I really have to know what I’m going to create out of the materials before I select it. My favorite material is cashmere.
Your clothing is different in that you use zippers and drawstrings — but not buttons. Also your shirts have no collars and you don’t use trim. Can you tell me more about this?
I want my clothes to be very pure and raw at the same time. I’m trying to avoid using zippers and buttons if they’re not really needed. I’m focusing on the shape and the volume of the pieces. Sometimes I feel that a zipper is breaking the beauty of the piece but sometimes it’s just needed.
You’ve got a very large collection. Do you do everything yourself?
Up until now I was doing the whole collection by myself, but since I’m preparing my first women’s line now and since we started our new line called Silent I have to change my way of working a little bit. Obviously nobody would be able to manage all this work all alone so I have two new assistants since October who work on Damir Doma and two more who work on Silent.
From an outsider’s perspective, you seem to have risen to much notoriety in a very short period of time. You had your first collection in 2007 and now you are showing in Paris and had a presentation in New York last Fashion Week. How has this whirlwind been for you?
I have a super hectic period behind me and it seems that the future is even more hectic. Sometimes it’s really hard to find some time and reflect about the past two to three years. I’m just so lucky that I can do what I love to do and I’m so thankful to all the people who supported me since the beginning.