Name/Age: Darius Wobil, 30
Hometown: Born in Buffalo, New York, grew up in the U.K. and Ghana
Profession: Fashion designer, used to be a neo jazz background singer
Fashion Line: Saint Wobil
How did you get into fashion design?
DW: Really, I’ve been designing, like sketching designs since I was 8 years old. I grew up with fashion all around me. My mom also did work temporarily for Oscar De La Renta, so I used to watch her sew all day. And then, when we moved to Africa, I used to hang out and watch the local seamstress work, and so I had an early preview on how to construct garments.
We lived in Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leon, and I remember as a child, I’d sometimes be sketching by candlelight in the dark. All of those experiences came together so that by age 12, I had 5,000 sketches. My father is a famous jazz musician. So at first, I started out as a background jazz singer. But eventually I fell back into fashion, because I knew this is what I wanted to do all along.
How would you describe your fashion sensibility?
DW: My designs are considered couture. I love classic looks that are stylized with very different cuts. I’m known for lining all of my garments. Everything. In fact, some of my pieces are so well made on the inside, one of my clients turned one the jackets I designed for her inside-out and wore it that way instead. I’m anal retentive about what I do to the point where it’s an obsession. I get my inspiration from almost everywhere.
You can read about a character and then close your eyes and imagine what was she wearing when she was 18 years old or what she’ll be wearing when she’s 40, that’s how I build my designs? So you have a creative mindset you are not waiting for someone to bring you inspiration, it comes to you. I like designs that are classic and will always be around—garments that, when you can’t wear them any more, you can pass on to your children and they can still wear them.
Describe your fashion line:
DW: Saint Wobil is for women who want to feel fabulous. I design mostly evening gowns. In my head, there’s a city and everyone there is fabulous. Everyone has the perfect waist and bust and hip line and no one is having a bad hair day; you have great skin and your lashes are long… when you go to the grocery store, you are fabulous and caviar is your snack. And every guy walks around in a 3-piece tuxedo if that’s what they want.
Even my ready-to-wear is made for heels. It’s not just a look: It’s a quality, it’s a texture, it’s for people who have fabulosity in their DNA. I mean what’s appealing about the life of a peasant? If you asked peasant, they will tell you, I wish I had the fabulous life. I haven’t met one peasant who’s comfortable with poverty. I’ve never met one. SO I try to help them get there. And let’s clarify that, women don’t dress for men, they dress for other women. I swear if you lived in my head for just one month, trust me you will not want to come back to your life. Fashion should uplift you; it should be beautiful. That’s what fashion is to me.
What about Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn inspires you creatively?
DW: Brooklyn has a history that has been ignored for a while, and Bed-Stuy has a history of producing gems become a fine necklace worn on the worst neck—meaning, nobody’s paying attention to a lot of these gems because of where it is; they’re too busy looking at the minor thing that makes our life seem very small. I send my work out, people see it, become very excited, and assume I must be from 5th Avenue. But then when they meet me and find out I’m the black boy from Bed-Stuy, then they don’t believe it anymore. So that’s why I have to fight extra hard to keep what we have that’s beautiful visible. Bed-Stuy has a lot of strength.