So young, so much experience, so much talent!
I first got my eye on Daniela Paradeis when my friend and blogger Anja from Everyday Boudoir shared a pic of her designs on facebook. When I clicked through I saw that the designer is located in Vienna! Whaaat! OMG! Undies, luxury lingerie, in Vienna? Which is like totally not that far away from me (about 80min by train)?
So I read the website from front to back and soon it was a done deal - I had to get to know this brand better. A few e-mails later Daniela and me found a date for a meeting in her studio. In the end of November, after a stressful day I spent at job stuff in Vienna I stumbled into her studio - looking stressed and only half as elegant or luxurious as I hoped.
But the designer doesn't only convince with her perfectly sewn lingerie but also a genuine positivity and kindness. I was welcomed with hair like a lion and a stunning smile and the next moment I already had vegan cupcakes and tea. noms.
Her CV is a work of art, which she'll explain later herself in the interview because I'm honestly having a hard time translating all the different schools and jobs she already did. After all her colleges, jobs and internships she was then in her late twenties (!!) and looking at that life of hers the next logical step was her own brand. (To be fair, I really think Daniela's days have more than 24 hours. Has to be. No other way. I mean how.)
And no, it's not a pseudonym or stagename, her name really is Paradeis (not Paradise! it's like the Austrian Word "Paradeiser" which means "Tomato" by the way, and "Paradies" means "paradise" so all in all this is like the perfect name and I love it). And no, her first name is not Vanessa. Again, wrong Paradeis ;)
Many new designers start their brands with small collections, but Daniela Paradeis is different: With a whopping FIVE lingerie collections, one loungewear collections and accessories she launched her brand in autumn of 2015:
Signature Lingerie, Loungewear and Accessoires
Interviewing the mastermind herself
Daniela also kindly answered some questions I had about her awesome life, work - and feminism:
Considering you are still very young you already saw a lot in the world of design - tell us a bit about your career milestones!
After five years in art school, focused on textile design, I went to fashion college, where I learned how to use the prints, knits and wovens to create actual garments.
During my training I was able to gather quite a lot of experience in fashion. I made costumes for ballet, cabaret and operetta, sewed bags out of used bike tubes for a small Viennese label, worked at Paris Fashion Week for a Menswear designer and designed an airline uniform. When there was time I did custom made evening and bridal wear… somehow in between I found my one true love: Lingerie!
After a couple of years as designer and creative pattern cutter for an Austrian lingerie brand the industry seemed a bit dull to me and I moved to Italy to attend the Master of Fashion Design Advanced at Polimoda in Florence. To work on my very own collection after my very own ideas was a big inspiration and starting my own label has been my dream since then.
After graduation I spent one season at a lingerie brand in London and then moved back to Austria, where I developed collections for an Austrian lingerie brand. I did not only design lingerie and create patterns, but also attended trade and trend shows, wrote spec sheets, tech packs and sewing instructions for the sample machinists in Austria and the factory in China, controlled quality, supervised fittings, wrote press texts, designed the packaging and styled at photoshoots. The next logical step was to do all that - but for my own, small brand, my ideas and my collections.
When was the turning point for you that you decided to embrace lingerie?
Having a number of jobs, internships and projects in fashion I was long searching for that niche that really got me. When I did a lingerie internship it was ‚love at first job’. Lingerie, for me, is the perfect combination of everything fascinating about fashion: Functionality, fit, precision, but also tiny details, an ode to the human body and the really important part of psychology.
No other piece of clothing has so much influence on the psyche of a person than the lingerie they wear. Lingerie is the most intimate of fashion. It is the first thing you put on and the last thing you take off. Only when your underwear fits perfectly, your outerwear looks stunning.
Designing underwear in Austria - not an easy step. What do you emphasize in order to be able to compete in a conservative market like Austria?
I make lingerie and loungewear for people who love and appreciate one of a kind, made-to-measure or limited items from small indie brands. If they wear outerwear that is handmade by a local designer or from ethical manufacturing in Europe, they (hopefully) will want to wear sweatshop-free (and animal- free) –yet sexy- underwear from a local manufacturer as well.
Since lingerie unfortunately is extremely underestimated in Austria, I often get asked what distinguishes my label from big lingerie brands and why my lingerie is much pricier. A lot of people here in Vienna are surprised that there actually is a girl, who is able to sew a high quality bra with foam cups, removable straps and/ or cookie inserts, lined with organic cotton,... all by herself. Only when I compare the time, money and effort put into my lingerie with the time, money and effort put into their outerwear, they understand that this kind of lingerie has its price
Lingerie is the ugly duckling of Austrian fashion. Since there is no actual Austrian (indie-) lingerie scene, people never really thought about underwear from local designers. There is a lot of work to do and I take this road gladly, I’ve always loved a challenge!
I hope to be successful here by working as authentically and transparently as possible, using ethical and vegan materials made in Europe, supporting local businesses, developing innovative patterns, high quality craftsmanship, and always thinking of new stuff to inspire the Austrians ;)
Feminism and underwear - how does that relate for you?
After all these years in the (male dominated) lingerie industry, I always try to avoid a context between sexism and underwear. Women are way too often degraded to sexual objects, especially in the lingerie sector and I want to avoid this typical „sexy bunny“ image in my look book shoots.
I approach lingerie from a very personal, female side and show a woman, who wears lingerie for herself; a woman, who feels strong, confident and at ease in her body and shows that with/because of the high quality lingerie she’s wearing. If a man (or a woman) falls for her then, that’s not a disadvantage of course;)
Sexy lingerie doesn’t have to be anti-feminist though. I just don’t want to show a hypersexualized perfect being whose only purpose is to please a man, longingly waiting for him or lying in bed wearing high heels.
Of course my target audience isn’t limited to women or people with breasts, and it has nothing to do with sexual orientation and gender identity. First and foremost I want to inspire people to wear lingerie for themselves, for that feeling you get when you are comfortable with yourself. I don’t stop at aesthetics, I also emphasize comfort and support for a positive body image.
I’m always surprised, how many people “don’t need pretty lingerie” because they don’t have a partner at the moment, or that they “will invest in nice lingerie only after their diet”.
My lingerie doesn’t pair with sizing norms. I think of all body types. The natural forms of every single body - no matter the size - should be celebrated and my lingerie isn’t made to change bodies, but to help them be more confident.
A high waist panty for example doesn’t only put a proud smile on your face when you see your own (sheer) backside, but also a more confident stride when you know, that the silhouette is perfectly supported. My plunge bras for example come lightly padded with removable cookie inserts, so you can emphasize your assets- sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less.
Since I produce every item myself only after the order was placed, I am able to go through possible insecurities with my customers individually, not only with personal appointments in my studio in Vienna but also with orders from the webshop. In this way the lingerie can be fit to the person and not the other way around.
Recently I got an order from a guy, who saw one of my panty designs at his girlfriend and wanted a similar item especially for himself.
Feminism in its prettiest form!
I'm completely smitten with the lookbook pics. Yes, sexy pics. Yes, "conventionally attractive" models. But it lacks the male gaze, the models aren't presented as a sexual object for the MAN (TM). The gorgeous girls aren't waiting in bed with high heels still on - and that's completely intentional. I mean, come on, how often do you spend your time in lingerie and heels in bed? In real life? not so much.
The two models also don't do any of the queerbaiting groping, there's no "hidden" fantasy of lesbians for the men to have "something to think about" in these pics. I LOVE these pics.
Quality and craftsmanship
All items are got to look at or try on I immediately noticed the impressive quality. No open seams, everything smooth so you often don't even see any seams from the inside. A signature look is that very often Daniela creates styles that work without a seam in the side, as seen in the Signature Body: The pattern is so well created that there's no side seam under the arms which makes the whole garment look even more elegant. Same works for the High Waist Garter Knickers from the Bang Bang Bombshell which makes every bum look simply amazing.
Considering fabric choices Daniela Paradeis stays true to herself and doesn't use any fabrics of animal origin. All the laces and other fabrics are of the highest quality, which is also led by personal experience: In her jobs she sometimes worked with cheaper items and saw, that this could sometimes lead to a flare of neurodermatitis. This settles the choice for - mostly European - top quality.
The bras are made with removable push up pads. Often I hear people saying "whaat, push up, isn't that like totally anti feminist?" Uhm, no. If you decide to wear push up bras, that's completely awesome! It's your choice to wear or not wear padding. The pads used for Daniela's bras are bigger and pre formed, not like for example H&M pads, and are also ideal to compensate different breast sizes. Or, if you want to, to push.
At Daniela Paradeis every item is handmade to order - which also means, that she can cater to some special needs and wishes. When I was at her studio I immediately fell in love with the Midnight Lace set - and tried it on in one of the sample sizes available (75B, knickers size L). Some knowledgable glances and notes later she planned slight alterations to ensure a perfect fit for me (more room for my thighs because THUNDER THIGHS, a wider wire and a bit shallower cup). As I'm writing this the set is already miiine and it is perfect - which also means that it definitely deserves its own review. But I just HAVE to show you this quick snapshot we took when I picked it up! Italien tulle, Austrian embroidery, vegan leather.
Celebrate her birthday:
And, because Daniela has a big birthday coming up - get 30% off on your order with the code "Happy Birthday!" on February 8th! I'll leave it to your imagination which birthday she's celebrating ;)
Are you as smitten as I am?
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