As the fashion director for global brand Escada, Daniel Wingate, 44, rarely gets the chance to revisit his home state of Florida. We caught up with the designer, who currently lives in Munich, Germany, at the brand’s Worth Avenue store to chat about travel, his roots and, of course, fashion.
What was it like growing up in Tallahassee?
My dad taught for 34 years at Florida State University. There were always stories in our house. We were always associated with the university, so there were always strange and interesting people walking through the house. It’s a very conservative, small town. It’s Florida with a Southern accent. I think of the sweet iced tea, the sunshine and the climate.
When you travel, what inspires you?
I love the French girl. She really has the best style. It’s simply chic – effortless chic. It’s horrible to fly in America (in regards to style). [The French] take more pride in looking chic – they’re more sexy.
How would you describe South Florida style?
When I think of Palm Beach, I think of gowns and thousands of charity events a year. And with South Florida in general, I think of color, color, color. We’re not talking about a world of beige here.
How should South Florida women keep their wardrobes fresh when it’s nearly the same temperature year-round?
The easiest thing is to discover a new color, like yellow, and bring that color into your wardrobe. Yellow with brown is super chic. Learn how to pop it into existing clothes – like a little black dress and a yellow blazer, or a yellow handbag.
How is fashion changing?
Through my travels, I’ve tried to streamline and modernize. The woman today doesn’t want to look like her mother – she’s ageless and educated. Normally, she’s not wearing a skirt suit or a matching pencil skirt. Even more high-end businesswomen can have more fun with fashion – it’s how the times are. … The world is getting more casual.