The importance of using your voice in any medium is a key reality for fashion designer, Briana Danyele. Growing up in the South, she saw her black history everywhere. Briana grew up in a strong family unit with her parents and two sisters in Greenville, South Carolina. “My childhood has everything [to do with my work]. My parents encouraged me to spread my wings and use my voice,” stated Danyele. The strength and support from her family inspired her to take on any challenge. Her challenge: to design a collection of meaning and purpose, have a needed conversation about social justice, and represent her black roots.
From a young age, she played soccer. It taught her about the act of discipline in everything that she does—from the sport to her work. “Discipline teaches you how to get things done,” stated Danyele. Her skill in soccer gave her the opportunity to play at Carson-Newman University in Tennesse. She stayed for two years to only discover her true passion in fashion. One year later, she transferred to Central Saint Martins. It is one of the top fashion universities in London. “When I went to London, I realized that fashion was really what I wanted to do. When I returned to the States, I started looking for top fashion schools. SCAD was it.”
She recently graduated from SCAD with a BFA in Fashion Design. SCAD is one of the top fashion degree programs in the country according to the Business of Fashion. Briana is proof of the strength of her background and the support of the program. She succeeded in her goal of graduating with a 4.0 and presented her senior final collection in the famous SCADFASH show. A show co-chaired by Miss J. Alexander where top fashion editors come to see senior fashion student work.
The Importance of Her Collection
Briana Danyele’s collection is called “The Illusion of Progress”, a dialogue of the progression of black social justice from the 1950s to today. “It’s a visual timeline of where we were as a nation, and my hope of where we are going as a nation,” states Danyele. A concept that she created from the influence of the racially charged incidents happening in the USA. Her family has personally felt the horror of police brutality with the passing of her cousin, Christian. Many of the deaths that inspired the Black Lives Matter movement influenced Briana’s own collection. Her collection questions ‘Where is the progress?’ She wants you to pause, listen, and speak up in matters of social justice.
The Details Behind the Movement
The collection is a menswear-inspired collection. “For this collection, I chose a predominantly menswear collection because we live in a male-dominated society”, stated Danyele. There is a dialogue taking place between her pieces and the audience. They include hidden messages that relate to the victims. Examples include Eric Garner’s final statement “I Can’t Breathe”, hand-drawn illustrations of the victims including Trayvon Martin, and an embroidered vest with the names of police brutality victims. One of the more serious looks includes a slave collar and a classic menswear staple of slacks with the statement of “All men are created equal.” The collection is filled with intentions and declarations of social justice. She uses her voice for a purpose, and she wants people to use their own to engage with the work.
“Each piece is meant to create a dialogue between myself and the audience. If we don’t talk about the hard things, there is no way that we can grow from them.” – Briana Danyele
Why She Creates
Briana Danyele uses her talents as her voice in today’s society. Young designers like Briana have begun using their designs for a purpose or a statement they want to make to the world. “We live in a political climate where to be silent is to be complicit,” states Danyele. You can see that heavily in her senior collection. For Briana, the advice she gives to upcoming designers is to use their voice and use their platform.
She explains, “Everyone that looks at fashion sees the end result. The journey is difficult. Can you imagine creating a collection of black lives and social justice in an environment where there are no black professors [in the fashion department]?” For Danyele, the constant explaining of her work was tough for her. She dedicated her time and talent to use her voice to educate people. To honor those victims like her cousin, Briana chooses her to lead the dialogue with her senior collection.