Sunday 24 June 2018

Meet Irish designer Daniel Kearns - the man behind David Beckham's fashion brand

Kent & Curwen Creative Director Daniel Kearns (L) and David Beckham attend the launch of the Kent & Curwen collection during London Fashion Week Men's January 2017 collections at Oxo Tower Wharf on January 8, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/Darren Gerrish/WireImage)
Kent & Curwen Creative Director Daniel Kearns (L) and David Beckham attend the launch of the Kent & Curwen collection during London Fashion Week Men's January 2017 collections at Oxo Tower Wharf on January 8, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/Darren Gerrish/WireImage)
Daniel Kearns attends the HOUSE 99 by David Beckham Global Launch Party at Electrowerkz on February 28, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/WireImage for HOUSE 99 by David Beckham)
Designer Daniel Kearns with David Beckham at the Kent & Curwen SS18 LFWM Presentation on June 11, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/Darren Gerrish/WireImage)
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Daniel Kearns' CV would make even those whose dismiss fashion as frivolity green with envy.

At 43, he has achieved more in his 20-year  career than most could hope for during their lifetime, including stints at Roberto Cavalli, Ungaro, Alexander McQueen and where he got his start - Dolce & Gabbana.

Before he became one of the premier names in menswear, he was a secondary school student at Gonzaga College in Dublin's Ranelagh, when his art teacher noticed how adept he was at the subject.

"The art teacher I had in school stopped me after class and asked did I want to go to art college. Gonzaga was a very academic school, but I wasn't the best student and I'd found something I was quite good at. So, they sent me projects to do every week, like drawing inanimate objects with different materials for portfolio and by the time I was doing my Leaving Cert, I had a place in the National College of Art & Design (NCAD)," Daniel tells Independent.ie Style.

"My first step was to get into art college and from there, it was during my core foundation year when you're trying out different things that I realised fashion was the thing for me. It was at this time that mt mother would tell stories of me raiding my dad's wardrobe as a child, cutting the crocodiles off his Lacoste shirts and putting them down the legs of trousers. From an early age, I was inspired by music and I went through every phase possible under the sun much to my parents dismay."

His journey from angsty teenager to world renowned creative director was a natural one and he says that he was "always fascinated by subcultures and what clothes meant to people" and during his studies at NCAD, he veered towards menswear largely because there was nobody else doing it.

Daniel Kearns attends the HOUSE 99 by David Beckham Global Launch Party at Electrowerkz on February 28, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/WireImage for HOUSE 99 by David Beckham)
Daniel Kearns attends the HOUSE 99 by David Beckham Global Launch Party at Electrowerkz on February 28, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/WireImage for HOUSE 99 by David Beckham)

And fashion runs in the family - his late grandfather owned a mill in Midleton, Co Cork, which supplied woollen fabrics for military uniforms, where his uncle was designing materials. and his mother was an accomplished sketcher. His father Nicholas had chosen law as his profession and was president of the High Court.

"They were delighted to support me in that, they were super happy that I found something I wanted to do and I was pretty okay at doing," he said of the encouragement of his parents.

After NCAD, he moved onto London's prestigious Royal College of Art (RCA), where he earned and MPhil and toyed with the idea of pursuing a PhD, but was instead lured into the professional design world in Milan, where he landed a coveted four month internship at Dolce & Gabbana.

"At the time, Prada and D&G were the big brands in Milan so it was a very exciting time. I've been massively lucky and fortunate to have some of the chances I've had. I’d encourage anyone to just take them and immerse yourself in everything.

By the year 2000, he graduated and was working with Giambattista Valli, who scouted him after his graduate fashion show to work at Ungaro. After that, it was a time at John Galliano, working side by the side with the videsigner, who, before his fall from grace, was one of the most influential people in the industry.

"I worked there for three and a half years; I did 10 shows with him and did his personal dressing for personal exits and Dior," Daniel says.

"It was a very exciting time for fashion in general in Paris then. After that, I moved back to London in 2005 to work as design director for Alexander McQueen, who was an incredible visionary -  one of the biggest inspirations I've ever had working with Lee."

After McQueen's death in 2010, the father-of-two moved to Louis Vuitton and then to Zegna, before making to the jump to Kent & Curwan, the menswear brand where David Beckham is a brand parnter.

"After meeting him and seeing his vision for the brand, I knew it was the right thing to do. He has a very clear idea of what he wants to achieve. That's been an incredible experience. From our first conversation on day one, I could see were on the same page. he's incredibly down to earth and it's so easy to work with him," Daniel says.

"He knows what he likes. He's been involved with me, doing the research and going to vintage stores - when we were doing labels and swing tags and discussing the store concept, he was part of it. He knows what he likes and is certain about that - and usually, he's right."

"His personal style speaks for itself. It’s effortless and that is such an inspiration. He always looks impeccable and that’s really what we’re trying to achieve. Most men see him as an icon, both as an international sporting icon but with fashion too."

Designer Daniel Kearns with David Beckham at the Kent & Curwen SS18 LFWM Presentation on June 11, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/Darren Gerrish/WireImage)
Designer Daniel Kearns with David Beckham at the Kent & Curwen SS18 LFWM Presentation on June 11, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/Darren Gerrish/WireImage)

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