MEET DIANE DUCASSE, FOUNDER OF THE PARISIAN BRAND DA/DA

Diane Ducasse is one of those designers with a luminous aura. A sunny spirit that she takes pleasure in spreading around her, especially within her ready-to-wear brand DA/DA.

Since 2016, the young Parisian with a heart from Biarritz has taken on the challenge of adapting the men’s wardrobe to women. Her latest collection for spring 2021, celebrates this DNA at the border of genders. With a necessary freshness, her clothes are so beautiful that you never want to leave them. Between comfort and reassurance, the collection soothes the mind and sublimates the body. From her obsession with suits and Margiela to her commitment to eco-responsibility, Diane Ducasse is a fascinating and passionate character. In an interview, COVID friendly via Zoom, she shares with us her journey, her desires and her vision of a fashion that is rich in colour and hungry for creativity.

How did the idea of DA/DA come to you?

I took the plunge six years ago. I had never really thought about starting my own brand but I had been freelancing for several years and it had become complicated to fit into the DNA of the houses I was working for. As a stylist/model, I wanted to respond to my own desires, while proving to myself what I was worth.

What was your background before that?

I started at the Studio Berçot where I learned the basics of couture and fashion. Then I trained with Michel Vivien, the designer Vincent Darré and Inès de la Fressange, whom I assisted with her collaborations. My entire career has enriched me with inspirations, colours, references and techniques. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by real businessmen and women who also gave me the desire to start my own business.

In a few words, what is DA/DA?

A brand that revisits the codes of men’s clothing for women. A brand that celebrates the structure of a fitted tailoring, the delicacy of a pair of trousers with clips, the allure of a shirt that’s a little too big. DA/DA is about that, but it’s also about prints, unexpected combinations, and joy. Although I’ve been obsessed with uniforms since I was a little girl, I wanted to imagine them in my own way, bright, transcending women through the richness of their colours.

Where does your passion from uniforms come from?

I couldn’t say where it came from, but I remember that I used to get my mother to put me in a school that required a uniform. I thought it was extremely elegant, I also liked the obligation that encouraged you to be even more creative. Unfortunately uniforms in France were not very common, my only solution was to enter a boarding school but I was still too young for this kind of independence.

How would you define your style?

I think it’s all in DA/DA, a creativity with a hint of surrealism, a nod to Dadaism and a duality without limits between genres and styles. That’s how I would define my style. I like basic but not classic. I want suits but nothing formal. I’ve always dressed that way, I just found a way to materialize my ideas by making my own clothes.

Where does this sensitivity to eco-responsibility come from?

I have always been close to nature. As soon as I can, I join my mother who lives in Biarritz with my sister. I have always been surrounded by strong, independent, instinctive women. These lionesses, as I like to call them, have always pushed me to listen to myself and follow my ideas. For my brand, I always knew that I wanted to create something timeless. Pieces that stay and are passed on. Without really knowing it, this commitment has pushed me towards the path of rational consumption. In my opinion, this means buying less but also buying better. I have therefore taken the time to source each of my fabrics in Italy, England and France.

How important is good manufacturing to you?

It’s essential and goes hand in hand with beautiful fabrics. It’s inconceivable to me that beautiful fabrics could be ruined with approximate techniques, based on yield. I wanted to take my time, to check every cut and finish in great detail.

For my first autumn-winter 2016 collection, I went through workshops in Portugal but I brought everything back to France and more precisely to Paris from the second. I wanted to promote the incredible French craftmanship while keeping an eye on my production and a reasonable carbon footprint. I do everything myself, so I also needed a convenient location that didn’t hold me back from all the other hats imposed by entrepreneurship.

What do you think about the pace of the fashion world?

At first I tried to fit in with this seasonality but I quickly realised that my independence would suffer. I took back control of my collections, which I distilled each week according to colour, material and atmosphere themes.

 For summer 2021, can you tell us what you have in store for us?

The materials are colourful and sunny. After months of being cooped up, I was more than ever in the mood for nature and the outdoors. The Covid also inspired me to be more comfortable and practical. Pegged trousers have elasticated waists, dresses are made into dressing gowns with silk inserts and oversized shirts are airy with draped textures.

What are your main inspirations?

At school or at Studio Berçot I never looked at magazines.
My eye was instinctively enriched by the shows of Dries Van Noten and his multicoloured prints, Yves Saint Laurent and his contemporary suits and of course Yoji Yamamoto and Martin Margiela for their work on the destructuring of basics. I also keep in mind the story of Gabrielle Chanel, a strong and dynamic woman who allowed women to wear trousers and to emancipate themselves from a clichéd fashion.

What are your desires for 2021?

To diversify my offer even more. I was lucky enough to collaborate with Monoprix a few weeks ago where I was able to express my creativity through a hybrid collection for women, children and the home. I have always had a particular sensitivity for design and I loved being able to express it through my own objects. More than a brand, I want to continue creating a DA/DA universe. As far as clothing is concerned, I am currently concentrating on knitwear, T-shirts and sweatshirts, but I would very quickly like to move on to accessories, particularly scarves.