Fashion Designer David Howell pays style homage to the form of uniformity
When one thinks about a uniform, tradition, equality, and discipline are some of the words usually associated with the standard clothing. But for David Howell, the scholastic suit has been both the starting and career reference point. Today, he pays homage to that unique form of uniformity in his designs.
“My earliest fashion memory is being a cadet member and always being drawn to the idea of the uniform. It was both practical and structural and has been my most consistent reference point for my work,” he told Living.
His new women’s capsule collection, titled Diocesan, continues his creative trajectory of exploring his main influences: uniformity and religion. “Frank Herberts: D U N E as well as the remake by Denis Villeneuve served as a catalyst for references for this collection. With a key interest in the Bene Gesserit, I explored themes of religion, power, and sex. There were also several 1940s German military uniform inspirations sieved through a monastic lens to create tension between two of the most influential societal pillars,” the fashion designer revealed.
Defining fashion as the most important tool for visually documenting and encapsulating a moment in history, it was important for Howell to become a student, understanding the fundamentals and learning more about pioneers of fashion, before approaching the new world as a designer.
“Being a student of fashion and understanding the importance of the technical aspects of garment construction, I took a keen interest in the works of Alexander McQueen. His technical prowess allowed me to see the endless possibilities that I could accomplish with fabric. I also study the works of Viktor and Rolf and Martin Margiela as well,” he said.
He also shared, “For any designer, understanding and developing your foundational code or language is paramount. Not only does this keep you relevant, but it also gives another layer of information to the greater fashion conversation.”
Fashion represents so much more than just looking great for Howell. It offers others a wonderful opportunity to take an individualistic approach to self-development.
“I always took an interest in how the women in my environment dressed and how they responded to clothes. I learned then that fashion was a great tool to communicate without having to be verbal,” he explained.
Through pattern making, Howell can lay a solid foundation for the garment he is about to create; that is by far his favourite element of the creative process. There, he can define and apply unorthodox methods for achieving certain shapes and silhouettes. “My advancing pattern making, seam line exploration and interrogative skills come in handy to challenge the current Jamaican fashion narrative.”
He released his 2021/2022 menswear collection and received rave reviews for its pristine construction. As time goes on and he grows into his talent, he has realised that he is more experimental. “I’m less afraid to let my clothes travel and speak by way of seam line redirection and manipulation. I also think that my recent work has a bit more maturity, not only in make and finish but also in how it reads aesthetically.”
His advice to aspiring fashion designers is to spend as much time learning and researching the craft; know your intent and don’t be afraid to enter the fashion chat. “You have to know what part of the fashion conversation you want to be a part of and, by extension, create a design language that is specific to you.”
It would also be a great service to you and others if you have a grasp of the fashion language when embarking on this artistic journey. “Having a great technical understanding will certainly be beneficial. Finally, being able to communicate these ideas to sell is absolutely crucial. And with the ever-changing pace of the industry, keeping abreast of fashion happenings is also very vital.”
In terms of personal style development, he suggests paying attention to things of interest. From there, you are in the position to build a collection of references and find what works for your specific body type.