DANCE AWAY: Monday was a series of firsts for Maiyet creative director Declan Kearney. Appearing as the featured designer in Stanley Korshak’s annual Tutu Chic fashion show and luncheon benefit here, Kearney marked his first public appearance for the brand and his first anniversary as creative director.
“This is wonderful — my first time in Dallas, and I have to say it’s been the warmest welcome,” Kearney said. “Thank you to all the dancers. It was amazing to see the clothes move in ways I’ve never seen before.”
Held at the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, the show featured chiseled members of the Texas Ballet Theater twirling, leaping and strutting down the runway in spring looks by Maiyet and other labels, including Lanvin and A.L.C.
“It’s been a very busy year and a very happy year,” Kearney said afterward at Korshak. “[Maiyet] is a really lovely place with a genuine culture and good people collaborating on a daily basis. I feel like we are really building something that I believe will be quite successful.”
Kearney and his team are tasked with creating urban chic fashions using fresh interpretations of the traditional crafts of embroidery in India and knitting in Bolivia. One strategy is to incorporate unconventional materials such as hardware and plastics — that’s how white foam tabs wound up stitched onto spring dresses.
“It’s really very much of a collaboration with our in-house print designer and embellishment designer, the embroiderers in India, the hand knitters and crochet and macrame ladies we work with in Bolivia,” he said. “We talk so much about the journey. It’s evolving ideas and revisiting ideas in a new fresh way and all the time partnering with the artisans.”
His first visit with the craftspeople will be in February or March when he tours India, he said.
A native of Northern Ireland who attended Central Saint Martins, Kearney moved to New York in 1998 and has since held senior design roles at Jason Wu, Alexander Wang, Vera Wang, Calvin Klein, Jill Stuart and Halston. He credits his grandmother with inspiring his interest in making clothes.
“She raised a family on her sweaters, and she sewed,” he said. “She would be in full conversation and her hands would be going. The patterns were in her head.”
Though not a knitter himself (“I can cast on but I can’t cast off”), Kearney said he has loved “seeing yarn or fabric become three-dimensional” since childhood.
“To this day I have a sewing machine on my kitchen table,” he said. “I miss having the time to sit down and make myself pants or bias-cut jeans, leather coats, jackets, T-shirts. I love creating patterns. I love every part except cutting fabric. I always try to find someone else to do that.”