By Shelley Hill Young
Danielle Mason Hosker used to wake up in the middle of the night designing dresses in her head using the gorgeous fabrics she discovered while shopping for her bedding line Antage Bleu.
Though she had a successful bedding company, she says she felt she had to take a shot at designing dresses.
“I’ve always had a love of dresses,” she says. “It’s the perfect piece of clothing.”
Danielle designed a demo line, worked with a pattern and sample maker to have the dresses made, and shot a lookbook. The line was so well-received by the owner of one boutique that it gave Danielle enough confidence to walk into D.C. boutique Saks Jandel — legendary for outfitting Washington women for inaugural balls — and ask if she could see buyer LaShae Green.
“It was very intimidating,” Danielle says. “It was like ‘Pretty Woman.’”
LaShae told Danielle she could show her three pieces.
“The three pieces turned into the full collection,” Danielle says.
The first Mason Hosker collection of evening and cocktail dresses made from the luxe fabrics she had dreamed about debuted in spring 2016. She opened her flagship store on State Street in Charleston in January, produced her first full fashion show at Charleston Fashion Week in March and launched her first bridal line in April.
Danielle says her biggest accomplishment is not giving up and refusing to take no for an answer.
“It is a rough and tough industry, but you have to be courageous every single day,” she says.
Danielle, a dancer and choreographer, had plenty of experience building a business from the ground up. While she was a student at the University of Georgia, she started the nonprofit dance education and performance company DanceFX, which has studios in Athens, Atlanta and Charleston. She later founded the bedding lines Antage Bleu and Baby Bleu, using designer details often found in fashion.
Danielle says designing a garment is similar to choreographing and designing for a stage.
“My whole life has been about the female body and form,” she says.
Danielle describes her aesthetic as strong and feminine. She counts as her style icons Kate Middleton and Amal Clooney. She notes that women are often called to be so many things to so many people.
“You can have a strong voice and still be elegant,” she says.