Dee Izmail, Iconic Designer For The Spice Girls and Destiny's Child
Name two of the most iconic girl bands of all time.
Destiny’s Child and the Spice Girls?
These for sure featured somewhere in your answer, which is why it’s such a privilege that we were able to speak with Dee Izmail, the designer behind some of their most famous looks- such as Mel. B’s famous Leopard print . Since starting out, Dee has had an iconic career and has brought the world Girl Power fashion. This is our interview with her.
How did you get into fashion?
My interest in fashion began very early as my mother was a talented fashion designer and trained me at couture at the early age of 12. I have also been influenced by my love of dance and the glitz and glamour that goes with it. Then, I went to a fashion school in London, developed my skills and enhanced my love for fashion.
How was the experience of being noticed by Virgin records and how did this happen?
It was obviously an incredible experience that helped me gain a lot of confidence. Everything started thanks to my flagship store in Covent garden, when Paula Yates who happened to stumble across the store commissioned me on the spot to create a pair of low-rise baby blue leather trousers. Then, one of the stylist for the spice girls discovered my store and I was asked to propose a set of design to Virgin records. They could either buy off the peg or enquire about bespoke orders. It happened as simply as that, and well, the rest is history… I think in this industry; I can say I have been at the right place at the right time.
You have dressed numerous celebrities from the Spice Girls to Destiny’s child. How was this experience and how were these girls in person?
This was of course an incredible experience and it was also very exciting. The spice girls always showed a lot of enthusiasm when talking about my pieces and alway have been nice to me in a professional way.
Is there a difference in the way you design clothing for performers as opposed to for day wear?
There is a huge difference in the way I design when aiming at the celebrity world.
I usually think about my experience in being on stage and my dream to be famous. I apply freedom of design for one off handmade pieces that I know will offer exclusively as opposed to the stricter disciplines of practical clothing and the strategies of manufacturing within price points for trend-lead commercial purpose.
What has been one of the most memorable moments of your fashion career?
I would say my interview with the Duke of Kent back in 1997 when I presented my Spice girls collection at the British Fashion Fair in Seoul. It was a real achievement and something I am really proud of.
For your recent collections, what has been main source of inspiration?
It is very complicated to explain but my inspiration mostly comes from music and from the things that surround me every day. It also depends on my mood and my feelings when I decide to create.
How would you describe a typical Dee Izmail wearer?
A Dee Izmail wearer is an independent and alluring woman. Someone who likes to be noticed because of her style. However, she is also a woman with flaws but still feels beautiful. For me, feeling beautiful is looking beautiful, and that’s the kind of message I want my band to represent. With my unique style of garments, a vulnerable woman can feel confident, strong, powerful and therefore looking beautiful.
What is one of your favorite pieces?
One of my favorite pieces is the low plunge snow leopard all in one for Mel B. However, I do have other favorites as they were mostly designed with my own style in mind during the 90s; unapologetically Sassy.
Tell me about the Kawasaki fund and why it was founded.
Kawasaki Fund is the charity I created in 1996, 3 years after my daughter Nadia suffered from the Kawasaki disease. She was only 7 months and her condition was escalating at speed, doctors kept repeating it was a common flu virus which could be cleared with antibiotics. I realized something was wrong when we couldn’t see any sign of recovery. We decided to go on our fourth visit to the pediatrician and it was then that a South African nurse recognized the classic symptoms of the Kawasaki disease having seen it in his home country before. Nadia was then treated with immunoglobulin, a blood product containing antibodies, along with aspirin for two years. If she had remained undiagnosed she would have had heart disease in adult life and limitations to the things she does each day. That’s the reason why I created this charity, I want to make a difference and save children’s lives, I want people to know about this disease so that they can identify the symptoms on time and avoid death and heart problems. I also want to help research to find the cause of this disease and I want the UK to have a better knowledge about it.
What is the main goal of the Kawasaki fund?
Our mission is to save lives by raising money for the UK research, promoting awareness of the classic symptoms of an infection that triggers Kawasaki disease, the leading cause of pediatric heart condition, so that we can assist self-diagnosis as Kawasaki disease KILLS children if not promptly diagnosed.
Around how many people suffer from misdiagnosed heart disease?
That’s one of the big problems, we don’t know, the UK struggles to have statistics as many people suffering from misdiagnosed heart disease will never know they’re suffering or have suffered from one during their childhood, they will have heart problems or die without knowing anything. Our charity work hard to try to avoid this and also to help research having more information about Kawasaki disease so that we could have statistics and know how many people are suffering from this killing disease.
What can we expect from Dee Izmail in the next five years?
After 2 decades, I feel the time is right to revisit and relive those exciting moments of creativity in clubwear that was the highlight of my career in fashion and branding. I plan to source like minded stockists to carry my label with a great PR and marketing team to connect my work in a fresh way.