Interview: Daniel Paul Dykes Talks Fashion.
Fash·ion·i·ser, noun, n. a person who indulges in the pleasures of fashion and uses it to project their personality and ambition.
That definition, drawn straight from Fashionising.com, is the cornerstone of what you need to know to understand the philosophy of Daniel P. Dykes, Editor in Chief and the man behind Fashionising.com. Just a couple of clicks into the site and you can feel the passion behind the detail given to the articles of each editorial, Fashion Week and runway show.
Daniel keeps his readers up-to-date on the clothes coming down the catwalk from his (current) base of operations in Australia, but the Editor in Chief’s online presence is not limited to fashionising.com.
A look at his blog and website offers a glimpse at the man behind the fashioniser. Interpreting fashion within the context of designers and previous runway shows is one thing, but the ability to understand how our environment, economy and ever-changing subcultures all factor into what we see in editorials, fashion week, and in street style requires a much deeper level of introspection and global awareness. Daniel does both these things and brings his intrepid views and bold voice to fashionising.com.
I had the pleasure to sit down with Daniel P. Dykes to discuss the growing influence of new media, the definition of an icon and what the future holds for fashionising.
Daniel Haim: Daniel, what a great honor to host you in our publication. You’ve been a great friend an an inspiration to me personally, I have so much to ask.
Daniel P Dykes: Thanks for the opportunity – it’s always great to have the chance to talk about the bigger picture with someone who gets it.
Daniel Haim: Tell us about yourself, where are you from and where did all of this begin?
Daniel P Dykes: Funny that you should kick off with the ‘where are you from’ question – it was only yesterday that I was telling friends that I no longer feel like I’m from anywhere in particular. I’m currently in Melbourne, Australia, I spent the first quarter of 2011 in 7 different countries and I spend my day talking to people in just about every country but Australia. I know where I am physically and I know of my English background, but I also know that it’s only a matter of time before I jet off somewhere else and I’m currently planning where I’ll spend the next quarter of the year. People in new media have it great – the world is our home.
Fashionising.com’s story isn’t too different – I had the idea for it one very late night in Oxford a few years back. We developed in Australia but, with fashion being the way it is, we’ve traveled with it and run it from 5 of the world’s 7 continents.
Daniel Haim: What is Fashionising.com to you?
Daniel P Dykes: Fashionising.com is for me something of a personal expression. Not just my expression, but everyone’s personal expression. We started it in the belief that fashion for the masses would start to become much more of a personal expression. In some ways it always has been: the people ‘in to’ fashion have used it to express something about themselves. But in the not too distant past that was about whacking a great big label across your chest and using it to communicate something on your behalf. I see that as all having changed, that fashion is now not just about saying who you are but about who you are going to be. We use it to communicate about ourselves, and we use it as a part of our journey in life.
We’re living in another golden age of design, and most of us want an emotive experience through great design. Fashion and all product design now has to mean something to us. So we use Fashionising.com as a vehicle to help people find style and not labels. So that they can see what’s in fashion, interpreted through the voice of Fashionising.com, and determine what that means to them.
Daniel Haim: In today’s world, when print magazines are hardly selling, how do you think the online world can shape the fashion industry?
Daniel P Dykes: Digital media has a distinct advantage over print in that we’re not limited to space, only bandwidth. If I could communicate any one thing to every fashion designer, label and fashion house in the world it’s that through its unlimited space, online fashion media can offer the reader a level of immersion that is unparalleled. Imagine you’re a watch designer; you can get a column in a print title that’s no more than a few hundred words that tells a reader that the watch exists and it’s nice. That’s it; the writer has run out of space to communicate anything further. In the online world you can be taken through every aspect of what makes that watch brilliant through text, picture and video. Online fashion media can shape the fashion industry through quality immersion, because the challenge of making a reader really understand what is great about any one product doesn’t come down to a limitation of space or format, but the actual skill of the writer.
Daniel Haim: Do you think we’ll be seeing online editorials, instead of print, within the next 5 years?
Daniel P Dykes: I expect we’re going to see a divergence in editorials. Digital media can’t do what print can do, and print can’t do what we can do. Digital can’t give a still picture tactility, it can’t give it a sense of touch or that beautiful smell of good quality print. At the same time, print media can’t ever bring an editorial to life just as well as digital can. They can’t make an editorial interactive, they can’t make it video. They’re limited to the static, and they can do the static better through their medium if they invest the right money and use the right stock. To me the means that years from now the online editorial will be something very different to what it is now; a replication of print (often poorly) represented on a screen.
Daniel Haim: Do you think Vogue will ever stop print?
Daniel P Dykes: Any magazine that fails to realize that people want a different experience from their print material will cease to exist. In my mind old media is done for, the death knell has sounded and a few are clinging on out of nothing but hope. But I also have to clarify that I don’t see the delivery mechanism as the difference between old media and new media. Old versus new is an attitude, not print versus digital.
Print media will always exist. But in a world of iPads and iPhones, print is going to become a luxury. We as consumers are going to expect more from it. The fashion print media that we’ll be consuming 10 years from now will be less like the average-quality, monthly print titles we’re all familiar with, and more like the carefully curated works that have more in common with a coffee table book than a cheap glossy.
To single them out, if Vogue wants to remain in the same format, with the same content and presentation, then eventually the world will demand something different. That means Vogue may need to change the medium or change the way they deliver their content. They can’t rely on their relationships nor their old brand name forever; as Anna Wintour adapted the magazine to deal with the (re)rise of the celebrity as fashion icon, so too must the publication shift into the digital world.
Daniel Haim: What are you working on at the moment?
Daniel P Dykes: 2012. Yes, we’re only half way through 2011 but such is the nature of the beast that all the spring 2012 catwalks are taking place around the globe, and we need to analyze all the key ones, so that we have a clear sense of where fashion and style is going in the lives of our readers.
Daniel Haim: Who are your style influences?
Daniel P Dykes: The biggest influences upon my personal sense of style have been the men of history who walked with a swagger, and dressed with a flair that was never over the top. Top of the list are Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen and Cary Grant. Each were utterly cool in their own way for their own time.
Daniel Haim: Who or what do you think is iconic?
Daniel P Dykes: Few people are icons in their life time – when you’re alive you still have the opportunity to fuck everything right up and make just about everyone hate you. So the icons to me are those whose influences reach out to us through the annals of time. In men’s fashion, that’s the Steve McQueens of history. In psychology, it’s the Jungs and the Freuds whose ideas still resonate. The list goes on. If I had to pick someone from today’s age who is likely to become iconic I’d tip my hat to Tom Ford. He’s a master marketer and I think that’s going to turn him from man to icon outside of his own life time.
Daniel Haim: What are you currently obsessed with?
Daniel P Dykes: Change. Fashion right now is brimming with the potential for change. The most influential designers of the past 20 years are slowly transitioning from influence, our idea of ‘media’ is in flux, and the generations that are slowly coming to power are the ones who want to do things very differently to what’s been done before. It’s a perfect storm.
Daniel Haim: What does a day in the life of Daniel look like?
Daniel P Dykes: There’s a bit of a pattern to it. A Nespresso and a half hour of reading a book on my iPad usually kicks off my day; generally I’ll read a title that’s non-fiction and is likely to put me into the right frame of mind for the day ahead. Then it’s into editorial work, picking and curating the content that Fashionising.com will be promoting over the next 24 hours (no more than 8 pieces are allowed to make the cut – our readers are time poor, so we respect them by not cluttering their lives with average things they simply needn’t have seen). After that, it’s generally a case of working on the development aspects of Fashionising.com; whether it’s something directly related to the publication, the side companies that we’re also involved with, or the different proposals that come across my desk. It’s development that takes up the largest part of my day, but I’m thankful for it; every day I get to work on building something that I’m really passionate about. I wouldn’t trade that part of my life for the world.
After that, if there’s any time left in my day, I’ll pen a piece or two, and sometimes even dare to venture into my e-mail. I’m terrible with my e-mail; my inbox is utterly overflowing and I don’t get the opportunity to reply to any more than 10% of emails these days.
Daniel Haim: What did you think of the recent men’s fashion weeks? Which brands do you think did it best?
Daniel P Dykes: To me the men’s fashion weeks of the past months belonged to two fashion houses: Burberry and Louis Vuitton.
Through Burberry Prorsum, Christopher Bailey gave us another collection that said without a doubt that he’s a master of seeing where his customer’s tastes in fashion are going, and he takes us there ahead of season and before most people even become conscious of the fact that style and fashion will evolve to that point.
Louis Vuitton. Wow. As a men’s wear clothier they’ve generally meant little to me, but bringing Kim Jones on board was an inspired choice. As an accessories house they’ve always done well, but this year really saw a positive rebirth of their menswear offering.
Daniel Haim: What are your favorite songs?
Daniel P Dykes: My iPod play lists are close to insane, and I have just about everything on there represented save for the likes of Norwegian Death Metal (I appreciate my ear drums far too much). What tends to get the most plays at the moments are the Arctic Monkey’s Cornerstone and Piledriver Waltz, along with some of the albums that I picked up at Paris’ Collette. Truth be told though, more often than not you’ll find me listening to cultural and business podcasts.
Daniel Haim: What other bands do you listen to?
Daniel P Dykes: Late into the evenings when I feel the need to calm down after the buzz of the day you’ll find me listening to the old crooners of the 50s and 60s (and 70s and 80s when it comes to Frank Sinatra – he could emote and communicate like few others), along with soft-house from the likes of Ministry of Sound.
Daniel Haim: Do you have any tattoos?
Daniel P Dykes: No. Not yet. Maybe never. But I have been contemplating it recently. If I go down that path in life I’ve decided I’m going to go old school and get something the sailors of the early 20th Century would have sported. There’s a particular tattoo parlour that has been operating in Copenhagen since 1901 (or thereabouts) – they’ll get my custom.
Daniel Haim: Your wardrobe consists of…
Daniel P Dykes: A large selection of shirts, and then all the pants, sports coats, ties and jumpers to work with them. And then around that, I have the necessary statement pieces: there’s Burberry Prorsum cropped jacket, the Armani overcoat – those pieces which let you heighten any look. But mostly my wardrobe consists of themes; that’s how I organize it. There’s the dark-casual area that’s mostly home to Burberry, the formal area that is full of pieces from Tom Ford, and there’s the preppy casual area that is home to lots of Ralph Lauren pieces (each without the Pony motif thankfully).
Daniel Haim: What is your nickname?
Daniel P Dykes: Oddly I haven’t one; my family likes to draw reference to my blue eyes and that’s about it.
Daniel Haim: What is your best style advice?
Daniel P Dykes: I tell everyone this: your personal style shouldn’t be a reflection of who you are now, but who you want to be. Dress for where you’re going in life.
Daniel Haim: What was the best advice you were ever given?
Daniel P Dykes: Work with your mind, not your hands.
Daniel Haim: Who is your favorite model, and why?
Daniel P Dykes: I’m glad you didn’t ask best – best is too hard to answer. My favorite is much easier, however. Without a moment’s hesitation: Natasha Poly. Of all the models I’ve encountered, from the top end of the industry (Kate Moss, Magdalena Frackowiak et. al) to the gorgeous girls on whom local industries rely, she’s the first that just stopped me in my tracks. Walking down a street she just radiated. She glows. At the same time, though, I’m currently wondering if her lack of recent exposure means she’s peaked or is simply facing a lull before making a big-splash come-back; all the best models have a first career and then a second career.
Daniel Haim: Name 5 models that you’ve been obsessed with.
Daniel P Dykes: Natasha Poly; you saw that answer coming surely? Natasha has such a sharp look from her cheek bones to her legs. Yet she’s also one of the few models who has utter versatility. Most models work for a particular look (elegance, rock chic, etc…) – she’s one of the few models to whom that convention doesn’t apply.
Kate Moss at her peak. Kate Moss wasn’t a model or a supermodel, she was a hyper-model. That’s what I dubbed her because of her utter ability to do what models are meant to do, and she did it better than anybody else. That is: she could sell fashion. And she could sell it out. For a while there she transitioned from being a model to being a cultural icon, and so many women wanted to buy in on it.
Arizona Muse; she has a great look to be certain, but so much of her success right now comes down to a phenomenal hair cut and an alluring personality. Each and everyone of us should pay attention to those factors in her success – they can work equally well for all of us.
I’m naturally tempted to mention another model of the female persuasion in fourth spot, but I think I’ll tip my hat to Jon Kortajarena instead. He’s just about the only male model I take seriously and I think the breadth of his work shows that a lot of other people in this industry do too.
Karlie Kloss. I’ve saved the best for last. Natasha Poly might work across just about every fashion genre but Karlie Kloss is classical beauty personified. When I encountered her in London I couldn’t help be struck by the fact that she seems like the most beautiful and elegant of history’s women; I’m thinking Grace Kelly and Lauren Bacall, rolled into one. While the word supermodel is overused, and I don’t personally think there are any more than 2 or 3 actually out there, keep your eye on Karlie Kloss. She’s big now, but if anyone has the potential to become a house hold name it’s her.
Daniel Haim: Who is your favorite photographer and what has been your favorite shoot of hers/his?
Daniel P Dykes: Right now I constantly extol the virtues of Ellen von Unwerth. Fashion as a whole is obsessed with sexuality at the moment, and that’s often communicated through nudity. Ellen has that uncanny ability to communicate emotion alongside this raw edge. For a long time fashion photography was obsessed with the raw edge (think Terry Richardson style), but so many other photographers interpreted the style as being visually overblown and communicative-ly lazy. Ellen von Unwerth never made that mistake. Oddly, some of my favorite work of Ellen’s are actually her recent campaigns for Guess – I think they show exactly what she’s able to communicate by virtue of the fact that what she represents in her adverts and what Guess actually stock in store are chalk and cheese.
Daniel Haim: What was the last movie you watched?
Daniel P Dykes: Transformers: The Dark Side of the ability to make films. That’s what they should have called it. It’s a film that has some of the most impressive special effects and some brilliantly executed 3D cinema. Yet it fails at its very core: the story line is weak and protracted; it’s as if the people behind it are great at the technical elements of the cinematic but not so great at the communicative elements. There’s a lesson in that for all of us.
Daniel Haim: Favorite move of all time is..?
Daniel P Dykes: Lawrence of Arabia. Fantastic acting, beautiful score, brilliant story but, above all else, the visuals are hands down some of the best ever captured.
Daniel Haim: If you could choose any three things to get for free, what would you choose?
Daniel P Dykes: An Aston Martin One-77; it’s the car-meets-art of its generation. It’s sculpted, masculine, and a great piece of technology to behold.
A Burberry Prorsum Trench coat. Not exactly in the same price point are they? But Burberry Prorsum do so many trench coats, and they do them all brilliantly. But my outlook is to buy the one, perfect trench, thus I end up suffering form choice paralysis. It’d make it a whole lot easier if I could just let someone else make the decision for me by way of giving me one.
An hour of Winston Churchill’s time. Impractical, I know, given he’s long passed on, but the man changed the course of history always with an eye on it. He’d be fascinating.
Daniel Haim: Do you have any favorite designer?
Daniel P Dykes: Tom Ford. I know that everyone is buzzing about his return to womenswear, but Tom Ford knows how to dress a male. He know how to put them in a suit and make them look utterly masculine. He nails that like no other. He also nails getting me to give my American Express a really good work out whenever I’m near one of his stores. He’s kind like that.
Daniel Haim: What does sexy mean to you?
Daniel P Dykes: Confidence. Sexiness all comes down to confidence.
Daniel Haim: Have you ever been star struck?
Daniel P Dykes: Looking back quite a few years I can only really pin point Sean Connery; the man is a living legend. Apart from that you meet enough stars in this line of work to know that they’re not to dissimilar from the rest of us, and I’m now more likely to be impressed by the unknown artist who has an amazing world view than the famous person with a hell of a lot of great PR behind them.
Daniel Haim: What’s next for Daniel?
Daniel P Dykes: The million dollar question. It’s always hard to decide what to do next; life is full of so many amazing opportunities. But I’ve whittled it down to a few new business projects that I’m working on that sit within the fashion industry, but aren’t directly ‘new media’. Until all the ink is dry, however, I’m afraid I have to keep schtum about them. It’s better to put your energy into doing things as opposed to talking about doing them.
Daniel Haim: What’s next for Fashionising.com?
Daniel P Dykes: Fashionising.com content is heavily trend focused – where fashion is going and how people can interpret it in their own lives sits at the center of our universe. But the cogs that turn the publication are less about exploring technological trends and more about using the digital medium we operate in to best deliver our content.
That’s our focus over the coming months: how can we best present the content we have, how can we better communicate our existing message, can we improve the delivery, the effectiveness? A lot of digital media companies blindly pursue the latest piece of technology; a perfect example is people blindly jumping on iPad publishing before it was ready as a tool. The truth is that the future of digital publishing doesn’t lie in any sole piece of technology, but is about great content delivered and executed exceptionally. That’s our focus, that’s what’s next.