Where the wild things are
Yesterday, Danni Harris showed her graduate womenswear collection for CSM. The young designer presented a collection centred around evolution, with each look based on a different animal.
Below we bring you an exclusive look at the collection and wild beauty looks. For the shoot, Harris worked with a stellar team of creatives including Ana Takahashi on make-up, Shiori Takahashi on hair, Sylvie Macmillan on nails, mouthpieces by Juanita Grillz, art direction by Dazed Beauty's Ben Ditto and photography by James Deacon.
Why did you decide to base each character on an animal?
Danni Harris: My whole collection is based on human and animal evolution and where we split to become a more superior species. My research process involved a lot of animal profiling as well as looking at the glitches in human evolution, things like skin disorders and rare conditions such as hypertrichosis - the werewolf gene, things that visually make humans look more feral and animalistic. When I began designing it really felt as though each look should be treated as a separate animal. Animals are so distinctive visually in their own colour and texture, but also in their behaviour so it felt really important to bring this through in each look.
What was the concept behind the beauty looks?
Danni Harris: I treated each animal very separately through the whole process and so for the beauty, it was important that we also kept it distinctive between the looks. There is a general glossy texture over all of the sea animals to make them appear as though they have come fresh from the water. Everything else in terms of beauty was supposed to appear natural, the models were the only human part of the collection so it was important to have that element in a very raw form. I worked together with Shiori for hair who is really amazing at noticing details, so we decided to keep the hair quite slick and minimal, but with interesting finishings. For the make-up, I worked with Ana, who was so adaptable with my ideas and put a lot of time into testing and editing the makeup looks prior to the show. Sylvie also created some amazing pieces for the hands and feet with such a quick turn around. I couldn’t have asked for a better team for the project.
What were you trying to convey about the seal character through the make-up?
Danni Harris: The idea for the seal came from my research into skin conditions. Things like Congenital Melanocytic Nevus and excessive birthmarks that I looked at in the beginning of my research linked in visually with the markings of the seal outfit. I wanted it to look as though the markings covered her whole body and were integrated with the animal print. Ana worked really closely with me on getting this to look as realistic as possible and trying to integrate it with the print. We did a lot of testing and editing prior to the show to perfect all of the makeup looks so it was really great to work with someone so adaptable.
Tell us about the mouthpieces.
Danni Harris: The mouthpieces were really important in making extensions or distortions to the face in the same way as the clothes do. It was really to promote the feeling that the pieces were growing out of the model’s mouths in an organic way, so each piece had to be moulded to the mouth and face of that particular model so that they appear seamless to their body. The collaboration with Juanita Grillz was a really special experience for me. I had of course really strong visuals in mind for the pieces, but I never thought that it would be possible to make them exactly as I envisioned and to such a high standard. To find somebody who can fully understand your vision creatively is quite rare, but second of all to find somebody who cares as much as you about the work is even rarer, so I’m very grateful to have had the chance to work with someone like this on a project so important to me.
What should hair and make-up bring to a fashion look?
Danni Harris: I think it’s really important in exaggerating the mood of a collection. Even if it’s really minimal makeup, that should be a conscious decision. The model brings the clothing to life and it’s really about building this character even further with hair and make-up. I really feel like hair and make-up can either make or break a collection.
Why did you want to distort the body with your designs? What is the idea behind that?
Danni Harris: All of my silhouettes were created using real animal bones. I bought bones from the butchers, made moulds replicated them in a solid foam so that they were lightweight. I then I started playing around with them on my own body underneath stretchy fabrics to see how I could distort my silhouette, as well as working with movement and video. I wanted to start with the bones, it made sense to build the animals from that as a base. You never actually see the bones in the looks, they are supposed to appear as though they are growing out from the model's body and that under the clothes, this is their body shape. It was about designing a new skeleton for each look that was a hybrid animal and human.
Designer: Danni Harris @danniharris6
Mouthpieces: Juanita Grillz @juanitagrillz
MUA: Ana Takahashi @anatakonyourface
Hair: Shiori Takahashi @shioritakahashi
Nails: Sylvie Macmillan @sylviemacmillan.nails
Photography: James Deacon @planetdeacon
Art Direction: Ben Freeman @ben_ditto
Duck: Sarah @skjulll
Orca: Reva @revaochuba
Dolphin: Ruoyi @yiruoyii
Swan: Lauren @lst.music
Seal: Inga @inga
Wolf: Elaine @eelainekwok