The Psychology of Fashion with the Creative Director of Dnwllngr

Fashion Design

Dnwllngr is the digital expression of Diane Wallinger’s exploration of fashion’s impact on human and environmental well-being. After graduating from the London College of Fashion, Diane was drawn to the digital realm for its playfulness, ease of interaction, and visualization. Diane is a fashion theorist, and through Dnwllngr, she experiments with the feelings and emotions that digital garments carry and how design elements affect the senses. The label is a study in color, print, and material, and translating emotional resonance, even through the screen. Dnwllngr NFTs for Special Items see a lean into Diane’s growing interest in the clubbing and techno scene; shiny, iridescent, and translucent. Diane’s designs naturally attract what she describes as “explorators”, curious individuals who are always up for the new and the experiential, much like herself.
How did you start in digital fashion?

I studied traditional fashion design and communication, and I developed a strong interest in sustainable fashion throughout my course. This led me to take the MA Fashion Futures at The London College of Fashion. The course has a great curriculum and notably included a module on future technologies for fashion, and I had the opportunity to have a go at Clo3D. I enjoyed it so much that I developed a nearly entirely digital master’s project!

And why did you decide it was the right industry to put your creative energy into?

I saw - and still see - digital fashion as a way to be extra creative. It’s doubly gratifying to have crazy designs come to life without being so burdened by the ecological cost.

You identify as a multitasker. It feels like being in digital fashion is almost synonymous with this moniker.

I identify as a fashion multitasker because aside from my main role as a designer at The Fabricant, I do other bits that are fashion-related but not necessarily design. As this is still quite a niche industry, where a lot of people work as independent freelancers, it is necessary to know more than one thing and be a bit of a generalist. You quickly need to know more than one software to upgrade your designs, and you need to develop other skills to promote and market your work.
— Diane Wallinger —
“Now every time I work with colors and prints, I consider their potential impact, and I check what emotion they could generate and how they are interpreted.”
You wrote a research paper called Care of Self, Care of World, based on the notion that fashion designers can enhance an individual’s well-being. Tell me a little about that.

I wanted to investigate fashion designers’ potential to impact people and the planet positively. Honestly, this comes from a bit of a selfish place. I want to see if I can positively impact human and environmental well-being by doing what I like! The findings were consistent with the hypothesis that fashion designers can enhance individual well-being and encourage people to act kindly towards the planet. But the research topic was quite broad. The results encouraged me to pursue my investigation of fashion’s relationship with well-being. I am now exploring different aspects of this relationship with each of my projects - let’s see what I discover!
How does this translate to digital fashion?

I see digital fashion as one of the potential mediums of the fashion-well-being relationship. I know this can sound weird at first sight, to pair well-being with something that isn’t physical, but I really think that the experience of digital fashion can induce some form of well-being. For my master’s project, I created fashion-meditation videos that enabled viewers to experience the digital looks while enjoying a moment of care. I also would love to create physical happenings where digital fashion is experienced as a group.

You have a big focus on color in your designs. Is the psychology of color, or color theory, and its ability to affect our moods, a focus of your research and design process?

Indeed, I looked into color psychology and theory for my bachelor’s project about joy. I researched the capacity of garments’ colors and prints to generate joy for their wearers, and it led me to investigate which color influences which emotion. I was introduced to color theory in art school, and since then, I have always been interested in colors, their combinations, and their powers. Now every time I work with colors and prints, I consider their potential impact, and I check what emotion they could generate and how they are interpreted.
— Diane Wallinger —
“This outfit is for all the clubbers who go out to escape reality, close their eyes when the beat is about to drop, and recharge their hope and positivism battery by dancing on the weekend.”
You created an NFT inspired by Detroit’s early techno music scene. Where was the concept born from?

My interest in the techno scene and research into its origin came from a need to understand why I craved techno nights so much during Covid. I realized that experiencing the music in the club, moving to the beats, the other bodies’ heat and the lights were all so much more important to my well-being than I thought. So, I looked into its origin to know why this was the case and also because I’m a total noob! I have enjoyed the music for years but didn’t know where it came from, how old it was and how many amazing genres there are.

Oh yeah. That’s always going to be a deep dive! And the result was “New Rêveur.”

Yes, it’s a play on the words “raver” and “rêveur,” which means “dreamer” in French (my mother tongue). This outfit is for all the clubbers who go out to escape reality, close their eyes when the beat is about to drop, and recharge their hope and positivism battery by dancing on the weekend. I want the NFT to be a reminder of these feelings, a way to carry the energy outside the club, and an invitation to keep dancing!

I think a lot of people want to identify themselves with positive movements. In physical fashion, wearers are wearing brands like Telfar and Pangaia with as much pride as they would a Birkin or Chanel tee. How do you think we can better create a movement of like-minded users focused on sustainability to adopt digital fashion?

Whether they’re into sustainability or not, the first step into the digital fashion world is the hardest to make for traditional fashion users. It seems so out there, and it’s still niche. I understand that it can be a little frightening. But once you step in, you quickly realize that you can get the best out of both worlds, the fun, and the creativity, without the impact. I see phygitality as a tool to facilitate that entry into the unlimited digital fashion world. I think having a few physical items as part of a digital collection can be a smooth introduction to this world.
Images: Diane Wallinger @dnwllngr
Words: Sally Paton @ohsallycinnamon_