SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — It’s pandemic protection — with a fashionable twist.
Savannah native and fashion designer Danietté Thomas is one of the latest to step up and help out with the nationwide mask shortage.
The facial coverings are more crucial than ever, since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began advising that people should wear them in public places where it’s hard to keep a safe distance from others.
The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) alumna, whose stunning work has been showcased at New York Fashion Week, says her innovative designs put her at the forefront of a trend unlike any that has come before it.
“I think about trends that I’ve seen in the past that I’ve studied through art history and fashion history, and this is something that we have never seen before,” Thomas told WSAV.com NOW. “I’ve never really seen a pandemic like this before, and fashion as such a relevant part of it.”
Her mother, who works as a nurse, inspired her to start making her own masks.
Thomas added her own unique flair to her designs, which are part of her Danietté Protective Equipment Collection.
“I didn’t want the typical hospital design, and I didn’t want the typical cotton fabric,” she said, “I wanted to use sequins, stretched florals, knits, pontes and scuba fabrics that were a little more cool and breathable.”
Thomas debuted her creations via a fashion photo shoot featuring models rocking her one-of-a-kind designs.
She posted the images online to her social media followers a little over a week ago, and already, she’s gaining a lot of interest.
“Some people are inquiring about matching masks for their babies, their infants, and some people are inquiring about masks for their pets and their animals,” Thomas said.
“I’ve had big businesses want me to make 500, a thousand, 300, and those will be done within the month,” she added.
It sounds like quite an undertaking, but it’s no problem for Thomas, who says she can sew an average of 20 to 30 masks per hour.
“I think it’s my uniqueness that kind of helps me stand out a little bit, but it’s also my lack of fear to say, ‘hey, you need 300 masks? I’ll do it.’ ‘Yeah, you need 20 masks? Stop by tomorrow,’” she said.
For every mask Thomas sells, she says she will donate one to someone who needs it.
“I have quite a few people that have essential jobs, but may not necessarily be doctors or nurses or required to be in the medical field, but people that have to leave the house,” she said. “They want masks to protect themselves from COVID-19.”
Even after the worst of the pandemic passes, the designer says she’s anxious to see how her creations will impact the future of fashion.
“It’s cool to me, it’s artistic, it’s inspirational, it’s fun, it’s taking the lemons that we’ve been given and making lemonade,” Thomas said, adding that she sees herself down the line designing matching face masks for prom and even bridal gowns.
“It sounds insane, but somebody’s going to do it, and I’m not afraid to be one of those people,” Thomas said.
“My career is really showing how it can survive in a dark day,” she said.
You can view Thomas’s face mask designs and purchase your own by visiting her website at Daniette.com.