Up & Coming Fashion Designer: Meet Danielle Jayne Dass

New York gave birth to several prominent fashion designers such as Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Vera Wang. The United Kingdom gave rise to designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Victoria Beckham. The French are known for their legendary born designers such as Louis Vuitton and Coco Chanel. South Africa is also known for outstanding fashion designers such as Gavin Rajah and David Tlale. But watch out guys – Danielle Jayne Dass, up and coming fashion designer is taking on the local fashion industry by storm. A 21 year old Indian beauty born and raised in a small town called Pietermaritzburg in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Danielle Jayne Dass: Taking on the South African Fashion Industry Photographed by Andrea George

Danielle Jayne Dass: Taking on the South African Fashion Industry
Photographed by Andrea George

When I met Dass at her family’s farmhouse – my first impression of her was indeed a lasting one. She looked fabulous yet simple. She wore a white sleeveless tank top with a perfectly fitted black bodycon pencil skirt, broken up with a pair of grey stiletto heels.  She immediately welcomed me into her home and introduced me to her family members and fluffy dogs. She accompanied me to the veranda for a cup of tea, overlooking the massive blue pool while opening up to a portfolio of her very own designer collections. Dass is the founder and designer of her own fashion label called Plain Jayne Designs.

Her designs are created by radiant colours and shapes or colour combinations that grab her attention. From viewing her pieces, it is obvious that Dass loves using various shapes and colours that add a 3D element to the fabric used in her collections. Dass attended the School of Fashion in Pietermaritzburg. Her proudest moment was winning Designer of the year at her fashion school graduation in 2012. She was also awarded Best collection in Range, Best collection in Show, the Dux as well as a bursary to study further. She was also short-listed to compete in African Fashion week.

Models: Donna Candy & Theresa Mcdadden with Danielle Dass. (Photographed by Aileen Dass)

Models: Donna Candy & Theresa Mcdadden with Danielle Dass -Photographed by Aileen Dass

Dass embraced her inner fashion goddess when she took a gap year in 2012 after matriculating at Wartburg High School. She had vastly different interests, as most students do when just (just in case meaning) completing 12years of schooling. One part of her wanted to embrace her creative side by becoming a graphic designer and the other part of her wanted to become a Geneticist or an Environmental Scientist. Drawn between two very different career paths, Dass met Priscilla Bhika – Principal of Pietermaritzburg’s School of Fashion who encouraged her to start designing.  “I never really thought I’d be great at it since I couldn’t draw that well. But by the 3rd month I was already entering race day events and I actually got placed! That’s when I knew that I actually could make it in this industry.”  – Dass says proudly.

A few of my Favourite Plain Jayne Designs:

recycled garmet - 2nd place

Photographed by Danielle Dass

Recycled Piece – Bubble Wrap Dress

Selling Price – R500

The inspiration behind the original piece was Bubble wrap – it was used because it gave the designer an empty canvas to work on. She mentioned that she absolutely loves painting, so this fitted perfectly when creating the piece, although she found constructing the garment quite challenging. She is selling the garment as an art piece, as it is not something that can be re-created.

“We weren’t taught how to stitch anything besides fabric material, but once I figured it out, it was such fun to see it all come together” – Says Dass.

Photographed by Aileen Dass

Photographed by Aileen Dass

Blue Wedding Garment

Selling Price: R700

This dress was especially designed for a family wedding Dass attended. She couldn’t help but show off some of her original pieces, designed to fit her curvaceous body.

“I wanted to wear a high-low dress but not in the typical style you’d find in retail stores. The chiffon created a semi waterfall effect.” – Says Dass.

eastern inspired one shoulder dress

Photographed by Aileen Dass

Eastern Inspired one Shoulder Dress

Selling Price: R400

As a young Indian female, Dass mentions how she loves to look good and stand out at events and family functions while still embracing Eastern prints.

“One thing I love (fall in love synonym) and embrace about being an Indian, is our colourful culture. So a dress like this makes you look and feel young and modern, a perfect combo”- says Dass.

nikita j padayachee and javed khan - sprint day

Models: Nikita Padayachee & Javed Khan – Photographed by Aileen Da

Nikita Padayachee, a model and founder of a local modelling agency called Poise Models in PMB could not help but praise Dass’s designs, stating that she has worked with several designers but none has compared to her experience with Danielle.

As a young and upcoming designer, Danielle is extremely professional, her attention to detail on her garments is phenomenal” – says Nikita.

shauna sprint day 2014

Model: Shaunaugh Dass – Photographed by Aileen Dass

Glamorous Black Dress

Selling Price: R799

One of Dass’s signature pieces is the detachable chiffon skirt that her sister Shaunaugh Dass wore to the Golden Horse sprint day in 2014. The theme for the sprint day was a ‘Glamorous affair’ so she opted to create something glamorous and sexy at the same time.

“The chiffon she is wearing can be worn in three different ways and can be mixed with various dresses – it’s one of my best sellers”- Dass explains

Dass mentions how supportive and motivating her family has been towards her dreams and aspirations from the very start of her fashion career. “We all are so proud of her at home and we help her in any way that we can. Sometimes I have to be her live manikin. I’ll just have to patiently stand there for about two hours while she sticks in pins everywhere – and I have to try not to make too much of a fuss when she accidentally pokes me” –  Her sister Shaunaugh says laughing.

My visit (idioms dictionary) to the Dass household allowed me to get a sneak peek into the humble lifestyle of the up and coming designer. She aspires to own her own boutique and have her label in various stores.  Dass plans on releasing an Indian Bridal Collection and a ‘Mommy and me’ range soon.

She could be South Africa’s next Victoria Beckham – So watch this space!! 😉

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