Yet more than invoking his own memories of growing up, Gayle also provides a thoughtful and heartfelt depiction of British schooling that mainstream fashion hasn’t paid a whole lot of attention to; we’re all too familiar with the kind of halcyon images of privilege à la Eton et al, and often from designers who aren’t from the UK, but we rarely if ever see the kind of inner city public high schools that Gayle (not to mention many of us) actually attended.
“We know that story and it’s a lovely story,” he says of the famed British upper class schools, “and I suddenly thought, why don’t I lean into my own experience?” That also means his life away from education, like going out to the legendary London club G-A-Y that summer of 1999—and the kind of things he wore out at night, such as the high street approximation of Prada Sport with a techno fabric top in a shade of pink that made its way into this collection, a color dubbed ‘rhubarb.’ “A guy on his phone said: ‘I’ve just seen a pink trash bag walk by’,” recalls Gayle of his late ’90s look, laughing. “But I felt amazing, and to this day I still remember that feeling. It’s hard to find those feelings again.”
One way to do it is to locate them in your own work: Your own intention about the kind of designer you want to be, and at the same time, the person you want your designs to reflect. (Gayle has continued to work as sustainably as he can, with regenerated cashmere, and using embroiderers in Delhi for some particularly nifty shorts covered in sequins made of recycled soda cans.) That designers have been tuning into their own perspectives on the world, and their own very personal and individual paths, has been nothing but good for fashion; more honesty, more soul, more emotion, all of which Gayle tick, tick, ticks with Denzil Patrick.
When he started to work on his spring 2023 with his husband (who designs the graphics) and a couple of assistants, the idea was to have fun—and throw out all the preconceived notions of how things need to be done. The brief was to embrace being small, hold on to who you are, express your own values. “With this third collection, that’s what we’ve come to,” Gayle says. “It’s why I feel emancipation both for me as 16-year old Daniel, but also the emancipation of my job today. We made the collection we wanted to make. I’ve thrown the rule book away, because I don’t want to feel confined to anything because I’m just exploring, and what makes it legitimate is that I’m doing it.”