Responses by Carolyn Hadlock, principal and creative director, Young & Laramore
Background: Fashion designer Robert Danes has been designing high-end, limited edition womenswear for almost 30 years. His label, The Danes, has been a staple of Manhattan, New York–based luxury store Bergdorf Goodman’s fourth floor for almost two decades, but the brand identity of The Danes didn’t live up to the beauty of his work. Our goal was to modernize the label and increase awareness among high-end fashion consumers.
Along with a social media campaign and other promotional materials, we created the site to launch Danes’s latest collection, “Exuberant Beginnings,” and house the lookbook—the heart of any collection. We wanted to reimagine the traditional printed lookbook, so we debuted a dynamic multimedia experience on the website. Embedded video and lo-fi music bring the looks and scenes to life.
Design core: The site puts Danes’s artistry at the forefront. He’s known for designing on the bias, an advanced technique that yields stunning results. We wanted to incorporate this signature cue into the site’s design, so we used the 45° angle as a dynamic transition device to mirror his bias-cut designs. We also echoed this idea with a parallelogram element that brings dimension and highlights the dresses.
Danes’s color choices, particularly the jewel tones, form an integral part of this collection, so we also created signature gradients that showcase each dress and its color palette. And because his dresses feature such meticulous hand-detailing, we made sure to show each dress at a distance and up close. Finally, we kept the site’s and social feed’s copy in a first-person perspective to capture his voice and communicate how close he stays to his work and his clients.
Favorite details: We created a site that truly reflects Danes’s artistry. The navigational experience is fluid and elegant as the dresses themselves, and the overall look and tone of the site express his perspective in an immersive, multidimensional way.
Challenges: Constructing the masks we used to pan up and down the dresses within the brand’s iconic polygonal shape. There was a lot of thinking, prototyping and revising, but it came out beautifully. Our goal was to make people say, “Wait, how did they do that?”
Navigational design: We knew the heart of the site was the lookbook, so our number one priority was guiding users there quickly. We did exactly that with a vertical navigation bar on every page as well as a homepage callout. Other navigational elements invite viewers to learn more about Danes or get in touch. Also, because the site’s content is rather hefty, we designed a custom preloader animation that uses the logo in a clever way to keep the user engaged while the next page is loading.
Technology: To achieve our vision for the animation and interaction effects, we used PixiJS, a high-performance 2-D rendering engine. This enabled us to perform complicated image layering, masking and animation across many different devices with a consistent frame rate. Because the design elements are generated at runtime from high-quality assets, we also used a custom loader to ensure good user experience. And we built everything on top of Craft CMS to simplify the content management process.