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Waltz is a two-year-old womenswear label founded by Danielle Colen, a woman who has an inclination for the minimal and the practical, and always attains top quality and easy fitting. 
The brand is based in San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean it stays local: the pieces could be placed in any existing wardrobe. The designer highlights essential over basic and displays her taste for having those items you wear over and over again for days until you eventually realize.
We speak about her choices when it comes to defining and building a distinctive brand to take a closer look at its philosophy.
Not only do you have a Fashion Design background, but also studies in Draping and Pattern making. Do you prefer one to the other?
Constructing garments is one of the most exciting parts for me. Most of the artists and designers whose work I admire most don't hit you over the head with their creativity – I am more inspired by subtlety and simplicity. Besides, pattern making is not only about numbers and rules – there’s a lot of room for creativity. The subtle curve of a line can dramatically alter the feeling of the finished garment. The length of a sleeve or the width of a hem – all of these small creative choices are important to me. 
What is your role in the brand? Is there a team?
I do pretty much everything. I have some help from interns and occasional freelancers, but for the most part I wear every hat. I’m looking forward to the day when I can have a team!
How is your everyday experience and what do you wear for it?
I’m in the studio most days standing on my feet all day at the pattern table or running around schlepping fabrics and garments. I dress for comfort, mostly wearing jeans and sneakers. I don’t like having to think too much about what to wear, so I’ll usually wear the same pieces over and over again until I feel the need to change it up.

Lately people are using clothes and changing them so often that sometimes we forget about the importance of having or keeping trendless pieces. What is your idea of a basic wardrobe?
I don’t think basic is the right word because that implies uninteresting or ordinary. I prefer to think about wardrobe essentials or foundational pieces. Your wardrobe essentials should be well made with proportions or details that speak to you. They are your go-to pieces that you can return to again and again and trust that they will make you look and feel your best. They should be versatile, able to be worn in different ways and mixed in with new pieces that you buy. I try not to design (or purchase for myself) items that feel too specific to the current moment. I know this moment will pass.
What is the most important aspect for you in clothing to take into account?
The most important thing is for your clothing to make you feel confident and comfortable in your skin.
How is the San Francisco woman? Most of your stock is placed there.
San Francisco is more casual than New York or European cities. Women here like to look chic but not dressed-up. We don’t have as defined seasons as other cities so our wardrobes are truly seasonless. On the flip side, the temperature can change dramatically throughout the day and depending on which neighborhood you are in, so we need to dress with practicality in mind – layering is key. Vintage is popular here, and women like to mix up their wardrobes with old and new pieces. In general, I think women here dress less to be seen and more to express their tastes and lifestyle choices.
Will you also take the brand to New York, your hometown?
The brand is just starting to gain momentum. I’ll have my first international stockist for AW16. Hopefully you will start seeing Waltz in all major cities next spring!

“Most of the artists and designers whose work I admire most don't hit you over the head with their creativity – I am more inspired by subtlety and simplicity.”
You take the influence of menswear and translate it into a female audience. Why?
What I love about menswear is its simplicity, utility, comfort and straightforwardness. Of course not all menswear brands adhere to that, but those were the specific ideas that I wanted to bring to the line. I would often see items in men’s shops that I would love to wear, but the fit would be off – the shoulders would be way too big, the hips way too small. Just taking a man’s garment and sizing it down doesn’t necessarily make it a good fit for a woman’s body.
What do you think about unisex dressing?
I’m all for people dressing however they want and I’m glad there are brands that are pushing how we think about gendered dressing. If men want to wear my clothes, I’d welcome that. But I am primarily interested in tailoring for a woman’s shape.
You aspired to offer online shopping at Waltz and made it happen. What’s next now for the brand?
I’d love to see the brand carried in many more retailers, not just for distribution-sake, but also because manufacturing on a slightly larger scale would give me greater opportunities and choices when it comes to fabric and other resources. It’s really challenging, being small! It’s hard to find factories who will work with you and your options in terms of materials are much more limited. I’d also eventually love to add accessories and fully-fashioned knitwear into the collection.

Patricia Ramos

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