With Danielle Sherman’s début collection last September as creative director, Edun, the Bono-backed, socially conscious luxury fashion label, has begun crafting a physical aesthetic as clear and engaging as its mission statement. Given that the brand had faced a few recent struggles, including two changes of designer, and that Sherman—former design director of Alexander Wang’s T line and a cofounder of the Olsen’s CFDA award-acclaimed label The Row—came from a strong design background at a handful of young brands, expectations were high for her Spring 2014 collection.

Sherman presented a new Edun look, one that is direct and defined and seems ambitious- ly designed, yet effortless and wearable. It features clean, classic silhouettes in modern proportions and is tailored to Edun’s identity, with bold prints inspired by textiles of Africa and the geometry of its buildings. It is also ethically sourced there, in keeping with the original intent of Bono and wife Ali Hewson, who founded the label in 2005 to promote trade in Africa by sourcing production across the continent. Sherman’s biggest improvement may be putting straightforward design at the forefront of the cause.

Growing up, Sherman was influenced by her grandparents, who owned the London brand Dollyrocker in the late Sixties, dressing the likes of Pattie Boyd. They hiked up the hemline on the shift dress, which was quite controversial for the time, Sherman says. “I like that they took risks, had conviction in their designs, and relied heavily on intuition.” She also watched their close approach to advertising, apparel design, and the look of the showroom and their own store. “I learned how important it is see your vision to its completion.”

She began practicing with patterns and draping at a young age, taking classes at Jo-Ann Fabric in Los Angeles, learning to sew on a commercial machine “with all the old ladies.” She soon received a Singer sewing machine one birthday and took nearly everything apart in her closet to rework. Sherman then attended NYU, where she graduated with a BFA with a concentration in art history. She also took courses at Tisch in the costume department and made clothes for herself. And while her own creative vision continues to grow and evolve, there are certain aesthetic threads that link the brands Sherman has been part of. “I strive to always make clothes that have a sense of ease and comfort and tend to avoid things that may seem overly complicated, fussy, or excessive,“ she notes. “I tend to have a very simple approach to design and prefer to focus heavily on the fabric, texture, and small details to make something feel unique and special.”

After starting at Edun, Sherman traveled to Africa with the team for inspiration, where they took graphic elements to be interpreted into classic silhouettes. She created both 2-D and 3-D patterns, one of which, for example, was created with leather strips woven into a honeycomb pattern and bonded onto a lightweight neoprene for form. This 3-D pattern is seen throughout the collection, in leather wrap skirts, woven leather jackets, and leather crop shells. Sherman says the graphic elements were important for her first collection with Edun. “From the diamond runway pattern to the graphic clothing, it was important to give Edun a voice,” she explains. And beyond the graphic element, she needed to define the brand’s new vision, Sherman says, by creating its core shapes. These include collarless, tailored blazers, elongated tanks, and pants in sheer, flowing creams contrasted by sharp crewnecks and unexpected slits from shin to thigh, topped off by the crisp white t-shirt. With this foundation established, Sherman’s refined, coherent æsthetic can now move forward to continue bringing a refreshing sense of creativity to the brand’s unimpeachable ethics.

For more information, please visit Styling by Tony Irvine. Makeup by Karan Franjola at Marek & Associates. Hair by Diego Da Silva at Tim Howard Management. Model: Zlata at IMG. Manicure by Ami Vega at Marek & Associates. Photographer’s assistants: Henry Lopez and Darren Hall. Stylist’s assistant: Susan Walsh. Hairstylist’s assistant: Ayae Yamamoto. Digital technician: Zach Ramey. Retouching by Norkin Digital Art.

Mallory Passuite is a freelance writer living in New York City, currently working in fashion.

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