Interview: Italian fashion designer Danilo Gabrielli

Written by on February 21, 2013 in Fashion, Women - Comments Off on Interview: Italian fashion designer Danilo Gabrielli

During London Fashion Week, I had the pleasure of meeting London based Italian designer Danilo Gabrielli. Danilo is known for his unique yet wearable designs, perfectly sculpted to enhance and celebrate the female body. After years of working for big names like Tommy Hilfiger, Ann Klein, Liz Claiborne, Club Monaco and Nautica and the likes, Danilo decided to start his own fashion house. He presented his second FW collection this February Fashion Week – and it’s beautiful!

blouse skirt
When I walked up to him in the fabulous May Fair Hotel, the first thing I noticed were his sparkling eyes. He welcomed me with style and grace, but above all with warmth. I immediately noticed his master eye scan my outfit. Running two businesses and three small kids at the same time does not leave much time for styling and grooming, so you can imagine my relief when I noticed his approval for my oversized bag and studded ankle boots. We sat down with a drink, shared some intro’s and were soon caught up in a conversation about life, inspiration, happiness and of course fashion.
Danilo Headshot-1
Born for fashion
Danilo grew up on a small island off the Tuscan coast called Porto Santo Stefano. As a small boy, he used to watch his mother, who was a creative and good seamstress, making beautiful outfits for her children. Then and there, the fashion seed was planted. Aged 5, little Danilo was the one the women in his family turned to when in need of styling advice. He had a natural eye for it. He was born to be a fashion designer. Still, it took him about 18 years to see his true passion himself. It really hit him when during his navy time, he witnessed a fashion show. Suddenly, the pieces fit together. Danilo joined Accademia Pistoiese in Rome and soon found himself top of his class. Not long after graduating in both fashion and costume design, he decided to try his luck in New York. With no money and some pretty bad English, he went to pursue his dream. It was tough at times, but mostly wonderful. It was not long before the big fashion houses discovered his talent. Danilo climbed the fashion ladder and became a sought after creative director. Life was great. Or was it?
Time for a change
Somehow, Danilo was not really happy. After some soul searching, he came to the conclusion that he was not following his dream. In his work for some of the big fashion houses, he found himself struggling with the mass production in far away factories he visited. Was this craftsmanship as he desired in fashion? He began asking himself how he could sleep at night in his fancy hotel when he knew those people who produce the clothing were working in not so fair circumstances? At the same time, he felt it was time for him to be completely free in his designing. There and then he made a promise: “I will proof that stunning yet affordable fashion can be done in a different way!”
Some people called him crazy for leaving his secure position behind, but Danilo knew the time had come to follow his dream: “to create beautiful clothing for all women to feel and look stunning, from high quality – yet affordable, and to be able to give back to the world.” By now the fashion world can’t get around the fact that Danilo is doing pretty well by himself. His collections are all about quality and details, celebrating the female form with style and grace, often inspired by costume movies from the thirties, forties and fifties. Classic beauties like Audrey Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Sophia Loren, Catherine Deneuve, Charlize Theron, Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet are his muses.
Sustainable fashion
When asked about sustainability in fashion, Danilo is very clear: “like in many sectors, fashion is too much about the money for a lot of brands. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make money with your work, but it needs to be in a fair way for all people involved. I am a strong believer in giving back and sharing your fortune with others who need it. I believe sustainable fashion can be done, and things are definitely changing for the better, but it is a long process to get the entire sector at that point.” Danilo works as much as possible with UK suppliers to guarantee quality, craftsmanship and fair trading. He works with high quality faux fur and pleather (fake leather). Also, Danilo has a list only his better half knows the complete content of with causes he wants to support. For one, he is saving up to open a hospital on Porto Santo Stefano, as up until this day people die from relatively simple conditions because it takes too long to get them to the nearest hospital.
Dark Romance and Medieval times
For his FW13 collection, Danilo was inspired by dark romance and medieval themed movies. Although this may sound a bit dark and scary, I can assure you it is not. The collection has three lines: a glamorous evening line with lots of black and silver details, a day to evening line with bronze tones and a daytime line with beautiful knitwear. In general, the entire collection shows confidence and passion for the trade. The original mixing of quality materials, perfect details and amazing cutting make this a collection you will want – completely and as a whole – in your closet. Dresses cut to flatter the female curves in a superb way, knitwear so stylish, coats and capes with medieval inspired sleeves and hidden pockets, … Danilo succeeded in creating pieces that are truly original, stylish and amazingly wearable. This is the work of a master.
evening dress
Danilo’s advice to look and feel stunning
We asked Danilo what advice he would give to women to look and feel stunning. “Every woman should have an impeccable suit in her closet. It’s a super versatile piece. Pair the jacket with jeans and you look sporty yet stylish; pair the skirt with a nice top or blouse and killer heels for a glam look; wear as a suit for a formal yet sexy power look.” Another piece of advice from Danilo – and I couldn’t agree more – “with everything you buy, make sure it enhances YOU. Don’t just look at the label, look at the form and shape, the colour and the fabric. Make sure it highlights your best features, that it creates a better you.” Danilo also had some advice for our inner women: “whatever you decide to do, do it with love and passion. Don’t worry to much as it will only block your energy. The most important thing is to be happy every day!”
An impression of the FW13 collection:
hooded dress
metal dress
knit skirt

About the Author


Founder of Allmygoodness. True believer in the goodness way of life. Sustainability & communications consultant. Foodie. Mother of a girl and twin boys.