PaperCity Magazine

July / August 2016 - Dallas

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DAN & JOSEPH TAKE THEIR CRAZY, LEATHER TOP HATS, SWOOPING FASCINATORS, HANDBAGS AND TEDDY BEARS ON THE ROAD WITH A SERIES OF ARTFUL POP-UPS, INSPIRED BY THEIR OWN EYE-POPPING PINK BUNGALOW. B Y R E B E C C A S H E R M A N . P H O T O G R A P H Y C H R I S P L A V I D A L . Dan & Joseph curly lamb police hat, $525; sequined crown, $350; and white pony-hair mask, $295. Untitled artworks by Gina Garza, from left: $3,200 and $1,200. MAD HATTERS J oseph Steffen and Dan Rodriguez are easy to spot across a crowded party. It's hard to miss a couple of nattily dressed dudes with such follies atop their noggins as an orange patent-leather top hat and a black leather fascinator that looks like a piece of modern sculpture. The business partners, who met 10 years ago as fashion stylists at Neiman Marcus NorthPark Center, are an eye-catching duo when they're decked out in their hand-stitched chapeaux and passing out embossed leather calling cards. But it's their Dan & Joseph collection of outrageous leather headgear and swank pony-hair handbags and other accessories that are turning heads of late. Their work is carried by Forty Five Ten and is sold through Their wearable art can take days or weeks to make, depending on the complexity. Everything is designed, hand-cut and hand-stitched by them from fine leathers and fabrics, with premium pieces custom-executed in exotic skins, fur and Swarovski crystals. Offbeat in their architectural construction in fashion colors and Day- Glo hues with contrasting top stitching, their pieces fetch serious prices: $300 to $5,000 for hats and $495 to $8,000 for handbags. For fall, they've introduced a collection of leather-and-fur teddy bears in two sizes, $595 to $5,000 each. (See a selection at the new Forty Five Ten when it opens this fall.) Two years ago, when Steffen and Rodriguez were working as independent stylists, they were asked to create a collection of leather goods for a party at Traffic LA at the Joule hotel. The men's boutique, hotel and Forty Five Ten are all part of billionaire Timothy Headington's vast holdings. "We'd maybe made two headpieces for clients at that point," Steffen says. "We had no idea what we were doing, but we had an ample budget, and they said, 'Go for it,' so we did." They went home and stitched up leather fringed necklaces, key chains, fascinators and masks, all with dyed feathers to fit the party's Feathered Affinities theme. The evening and the collection were a hit. S helle Sills, director of retail and project development at Headington Companies, has since taken Steffen, 32, and Rodriguez, 27, under her wing. "If we have any crazy ideas, we bring them to Shelle to see if it fits into their mix anywhere," Steffen says. "And Tim is trying to create an interesting culture downtown, so he's a big supporter of artists and creative people like us." The high-profile event helped launch Dan & Joseph as a retail and lifestyle creative brand that includes their leather goods and event styling. Clients include longtime customers from their days at Neiman Marcus, along with philanthropist Cindy Rachofsky, who wore one of their Swarovski-encrusted leather fascinators at the Joule for the preview party of the 2016 Art Ball, and Boy George, who took a selfie wearing a Dan & Joseph short top hat. They've curated hundreds of special hats, including 30 custom creations, for real estate broker Don Knobler, known worldwide as the Mavericks super fan, who is seen on the front row of every game wearing a new outrageous outfit and a Dan & Joseph hat. The Dan & Joseph studio is a haven for leather-working tools and hats in progress. Vintage finds mix with a Fornasetti plate and pillows.

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