Before I came to Germany, I was introduced to Joyce Darkoh by a mutual friend. He figured we would have some similar interest because we were both creative entrepreneurs and professional, and he though it would be beneficial for the both of us to get to know each other.
He was right.
We met, linked up a few times over coffee. I accompanied her on a a shoot or two. She connected me to potential photography clients. We realized we knew many of the same people. We would talked shop, creativity, and being a woman in male dominated industries.
Joyce Darkoh is a German-Ghanaian men’s suit designer and bespoke tailor based in Germany. Her fashion line was recently premiered at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week this past February.
Recently, I got the opportunity to do the photography for Joyce’s campaign “Pay Tribute With Style”. Pay Tribute With Style will create a dapper suit collection for men, and each suit that is purchased online will automatically benefit one active or retired member of the military family. We had a ball on the set of the shoot.
I wanted to introduce my friend Ms. Darkoh to my readers in this months 7 X 7 Portrait of a Creative..enjoy and be inspired…
BW: Where does your creative inspiration come from?
JD: My inspiration comes from people, mainly men, and what I see in them. For DARKOH, it can be a character in a movie or a model in a magazine, once I see someone who catches my eye it starts a whole process and it is reflected in the whole collection. The colors I get from nature, mainly landscapes from different countries. The SS14 collection was inspired by Sicily, and the young Sicilian men that all express masculinity in their own unique way.
L&C: Who are some of your biggest influencers in the fashion industry?
JD: I would have to say Ozwald Boateng. I saw his suits at the age of 19 and literally stalked him by going to London and spend hours pressing my face against the storefront because I didn’t dare to enter his showroom. But the slim cut of his suits and the sense for color blocking made him a man way ahead of his time. I also love the esthetic of Tom Ford suits. Everything is veryplanned and constructed and still passionate. Very unique.
BA: What are some challenges you’ve had to overcome as woman in a male dominated industry?
JD: There were no challenges until I made the shift from a local bespoke tailor to a menswear designer who not only dared to exchange her knowledge with only male men suits couture but also dared to change the game of traditional menswear by using elements of the bespoke tailoring and combine it with modern cuts and colors. There are still a few who look at me from a secured distance which is absolutely fine.
BA: You are walking down the street and you are immediately stopped in your tracks by a well-dressed man, he’s wearing……
JD: …a two piece suit that looks like it was tailored on him of course, but even more, shoes that speak for themselves. Guys should never underestimate the power of shoes.
BA: What are some of the projects that your currently working on?
JD: I have a great PR who is keeping me very busy with celebrity placements, and we are working on a tie collection. But more importantly, I am working on raising funds for a small suit line dedicated to the Military services, where the profit of each sold suit is providing instant help to wounded soldiers and veterans in need. It would be easy to get a sponsor or a loan to start off the collection, but the process of fundraising alone is supposed to bring awareness to this topic. The Military appears to be quite a taboo subject in the States because it has its ugly side. But fact is that more and more people are physically, mentally and economically affected by their deployments, and we cannot close our eyes to that.
BA: What is the best advise that you’ve received through out your career?
JD: My husband’s friend who is a successful hairstylist and owner of three stores now once told me
“ follow your passion. If you think that suits are your passion then do it and don’t let anyone tell you it is impossible”.It is true. Anything you do with your heart and your passion will keep you going for a long time, and in my profession, you will need lots of time.
BA: What do you normally do to overcome creative blocks?
JD: By taking a break. The worst thing you can do is force your creativity to come when you are not in that creative mood. Anyone who is an artist knows what happens when you do so,you experience such frustrations that everything else is just a waste of time. I usually stop right there and take a walk, watch TV, go shopping and then I wait for that climes of creativity and I grab it and continue…