The woman who led the ’90s fashion vanguard is back, with a limited-edition capsule collection just for us (and you can shop it very, very soon).
“Icon” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something.” Dublin-born, NYC-based designer Daryl Kerrigan fits the bill. She started her label, Daryl K, in 1991 with a shop in New York City’s East Village and launched an entire look that became a hallmark of the downtown scene—her low-slung pants and asymmetrical tees were as ubiquitous on the streets of Manhattan as pairs of Pro-Keds and Chuck Taylors (the decade’s sneakers of choice). Fans of Daryl K included rock legend Kim Gordon and former Vogue/W Magazine editor Camilla Nickerson. All this to explain why we couldn’t be more excited about the fact that we collaborated on an 18-piece capsule collection with the designer that lands on February 10th (but watch this space for an exclusive chance to shop it early). We caught up with her to learn more about how she got her start and what inspired this collection.
New York’s East Village neighborhood
Daryl came to New York from Ireland in the late ’80s; her career in fashion began on film sets. She wardrobed the cast of Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train (1989) and My Cousin Vinny (1992). “Costume design was such a brilliant way to get a really broad understanding of what Americana was about: Pendleton jackets, classic motorcycle jackets,” she says. “I love fashion from all decades, but specifically the signature pieces that define those eras.” While working on set in 1991, Daryl launched her own collection, simultaneously opening a shop on East 6th Street in Manhattan’s East Village to offer her look to downtowners (hers was one of the few boutiques in a sea of residential buildings and occasional vintage stores at that time). “I remember Kim Gordon and [her friend, stylist] Daisy von Furth walking by the store after we’d closed for the day, and I could hear them talking about what they saw in the windows. They would examine things so carefully,” Daryl recalls.
Daryl reviewing sketches in her Bond Street studio, 1996
“When I design, I’m never overdesigning. I’m always asking myself, ‘What can I take away?’ rather than, ‘What can I add?'” she continues. Not surprisingly, many of her pieces, including the ones she dreamed up for us, are easy to wear but still make a statement. “I love jumping between decades, but for this collection I was really inspired by the ’70s. That SoCal freewheeling thing is such a great mood for spring. And, of course, there’s a ’90s thing happening with the graffiti.” A T-shirt emblazoned with “MOTHALOVA” seems to be the perfect marriage of the two eras and coasts.
An East Village door plastered with band stickers
“When you look good, you feel good. I love making women feel good. Even if you don’t know what it is, or why it is, but you put it on and it feels awesome and looks awesome, you’ve succeeded. As a designer, you’ve achieved what you’ve set out to do.” Iconic words, indeed.
Working in the Bond Street studio, 1996
Madewell x Daryl K® arrives February 10th, but sign up to get our emails now for an exclusive sneak peek and a chance to shop it before everyone else (every style is limited edition—you don’t want to miss this).
To stream Daryl’s favorite old-school jams—a playlist she made just for us—click here.
Photography by Jennifer Trahan and courtesy of Daryl Kerrigan.