Interview: Daisy Harris-Burland of Dumpster Design

Interview: Daisy Harris-Burland of Dumpster Design

Daisy Harris-Burland is the design genius behind Dumpster Design. If you haven’t come across her amazing upcycled couture dresses yet, make sure you take a look. You’ll never want to throw away an old magazine again. Because in Daisy’s world, one woman’s trash is another woman’s ball gown. Talk about a Cinderella story…

But what really interests me about Daisy is her dry sense of humour. Whoever said that sarcasm is the lowest form of witt is probably the type of person who would rate Maid in Manhattan or 27 Dresses as comedy classics – which says it all – because Daisy is frickin’ hilarious. Follow Daisy on her blog to see what I mean. She’ll have you LOLing outloud at your desk (that’s where we all read blogs right? At the office when we should be working?).

She’s not that bothered about fashion, wears boys clothes and she definitely just used the word “fanny” in my interview. After accidentally slipping up with “stop d*cking around” in a business meeting the other day, I think I’ve found my potty mouthed soul mate. I think I love her.

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1. I love what your designs stand for. I am as guilty as the rest when it comes to the throwaway mentality, especially in fashion. But when it comes to creating impactful pieces, surely it can’t always be possible to remain 100% eco-friendly? Do you ever find yourself compromising those values for the love of your art?

“It’s all about balance. Of course some of my designs aren’t 110% eco friendly, I mean if I need to buy PVA glue I’m not gonna lose sleep over it. It’s hardly like I can spend four days sitting under a tree waiting for its sap to keep my work all natural. However I always try to think with a green head on when I design, keeping waste to a minimum.  I see it as art; the fact it is extremely eco friendly and sustainable is a bonus. (My PR manager is going to kill me for saying that haha).”

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2.  Your designs really are one of a kind. I get so bored of everyday fashion churned out in its masses (if I see another flower crown, another Celine bag or another pair of those Zara sling backs I’ll cry). So I’m always looking to emerging and independent designers like yourself for fresh inspiration. Who/what inspires you?

“For me, my inspiration comes from mechanics and the intricacy involved with in that. I don’t flip through the fashion mags and get all riled up by a frilly dress or some posh socks. It’s more like I’ll go to a scrap yard and salivate when I see there is an engine for a tenner! I have three brothers; I would have been beaten up as a kid if I didn’t like cars.”

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3. Dumpster Design currently focuses on couture pieces and commissioned work for large campaigns. Obviously this doesn’t make your label wearable for everyday fashion but do you ever see your range expanding to cover some everyday pieces? I mean, personally, I would love to be able to shop Dumpster Design in an independent shop or an online boutique…

“For the moment that seems quite unlikely. Purely because it doesn’t give me that buzz. I can sew and make a dress just as well as any designer on the catwalk (haha listen to myself, I sound right up my own A) but what I’m trying to say is that’s not what gets me hot under the collar. I have such a passion and drive about making beautiful pieces out of unexpected items, I love the challenge and I love that every single dress is different depending on the raw state of its materials. I think rather than everyday fashion or online boutique it’s more looking at galleries and exhibitions. It is wearable art at the end of the day. However saying that, I could wake up tomorrow morning with the mindset of an 80yr old grandma and have a huge urge to dig out all my pattern blocks and have a big old sewing session – then again, don’t watch this space.”

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4. I’m always interested to know what my favourite designers like to wear themselves. Tell me about your personal style… you ever wear your own designs?

“Well this is embarrassing. For a split second, as you can’t see me I thought about lying. But the facade will fall at some point so I might as well tell you now….my dirty little secret….I don’t know anything about fashion. I don’t know Primark from Prada. I’m sat here answering these questions in a boy’s t-shirt from the kids section of H&M (super cheap – no tax. Hollllaa!) and a pair of my brother’s boxers as shorts. To say I don’t really care would be an understatement. But I have reason, honest I do. Before you get out your followers with pitch forks and burning bits of wood let me explain myself!

All I do is work in my studio, which means I have to be comfortable. I can find myself in some bizarre positions, balancing so that hot glue doesn’t drip down onto any one of my limbs (seriously sometimes I surprise myself with my extreme flexibility and dexterity). Comfy is what works for me and that means boys clothes and a battered pair of converse. Oh I’d like to add I wear girls’ pants. I’m not gross or anything.”

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5. I’ve read your blog. You are hilarious. I always expect designers to be very serious (and by serious I mean pretentious) but I just love your dry sense of humour. I take it you don’t take life too seriously then?

“I can’t! If I took it seriously I’d be eaten alive. I work in fashion – everyone is cut throat and critics can leave you crying if you’re not thick skinned. I mean I just spent the last day working on the lust dress for a ‘7 Sins’ collection I’m doing. Which involved thumbing through explicit porn mags, and as a 22 year old, straight female, I can safely say I’ve seen more fanny in the last 8 hours than any teenage boy discovering what puberty is. If I took that seriously I would be a shell of a woman right now!”

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(Above: exclusive images from Daisy’s design studio!)

6. This isn’t a question but more of a request. Please write a sitcom. You could be the fashion version of Stephen Merchant / Ricky Gervais and create something side-splittingly genius.

“Hahaha thank you. My general tone can get me in to trouble sometimes. I curse like a sailor and have the sense of humour equivalent to a dirty old man. But it seems to have worked thus far so I guess it can’t be too detrimental to me and my business? I hope? Haha, I have an exquisite skill in bringing the minds of those around me into the gutter as well. That along with catching and throwing (I used to be captain of my rounders team). But hey, if Dumpster all goes to pot you’ve just given me a solid back up plan!”

7. And finally, back to fashion, what exciting projects are you working on at the moment and which shows will we be able to see you at next?

“Lots of exciting things at the moment. I am currently working on a 7 dress collection based on the 7 deadly sins – this is for the Radical designer Awards in London in October. I am also doing Front Row Fashion Show in November and…save the best ‘til last…..I have just had conformation on a collaboration with Dior, DIOR?! It still surprises me to say it! VERY excited to get stuck into this one!

Thank you for your questions, it was actually a joy to answer them unlike the standard mundane ones I normally get. Hey if something tragic happens and you end up jobless and alone you could come be the Stephen Merchant to my Ricky Gervais? – think about it. We could take over the comedy world one blog post at a time.”

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(Above: exclusive images from Daisy’s design studio!)

In response to your proposal Daisy…..HELL EFFING YEAH. Not to blow my own trumpet but you’re not the only funny one around here. And I would rather be the taller, gangly Merchant than the short and stumpy Gervais (sorry Ricky – on the unlikely offchance that you read my blog).

Hope you’ve enjoyed my totes hilar interview with Daisy from Dumpster Design. See more of her incredible designs on the Dumpster Design website or follow her blog a lot more swearing. If you want your very own Dumpster Design piece, you can get one made starting from £700.