Photograph by Ninh Chau
Above: Danielle models the Elsie top and Fitzgerald silk taffeta skirt
During her promotional tour for Soiree: Entertaining in Style, Danielle Rollins received as many questions about what she was wearing as she did about the hosting tips in the pages of her book. An entertaining expert with an interior design firm, Danielle is accustomed to creating beautiful spaces, and she presents herself with the same easy elegance that defines her brand. As more and more friends encouraged her to start a clothing line, she began to consider her frustration when it came to shopping and her inability to find the layering basics she often sought out.
When a publicist scheduled a pop up for her, there was no choice but to take the leap and try her hand at designing. The result was her trademark Dorothy hostess dress; a chic, belted one-piece wonder with pockets and infinite possibilities to dress up or down depending on the occasion. The dresses sold immediately and Danielle added separates to the mix, focusing on couture construction and a rainbow of colors and prints from Brunschwig & Fils and Liberty London.
We caught up with Danielle during her trunk show at Oomph in Greenwich to talk about her new venture and get some party-planning advice from the expert herself.
Who are you designing for?
The pieces are ageless. My daughter and goddaughter would always be stealing my clothes, so I knew that they were going to be interested; but I would also listen to my mom talk all the time about there not being any good clothing for women her age. I considered them both. We had a pop up on Nantucket last summer, and I loved that it was a mix of older and younger women, all sizes.
Why do you think they’ve been such a hit?
There seems to be a hole in the market. These are the pieces you put on and just feel good. You know that they’ll go with anything, all seasons. I thought about making the pieces transitional. Wide skirts have pockets, you can move in them. There’s an old world glamour, no low waists. As an interior designer, I have an eye for scale and I know what’s flattering. I’ve thought a lot about color, and how you build upon it just like you’d consider it for a room. And these are background pieces that they can personalize themselves.
Who are your modern style icons?
Marina Rust is always very classic and elegant, and there’s always a sense of graciousness about her. I look to Tory Burch for her style but also as an entrepreneur who gives back to other women. Lauren Santo Domingo has incredible taste.
What are the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to hosting?
I hate to tell people what not to do. My best advice would just be to do it. In doing it, then you figure out what you need. You don’t need a complete set of everything, but look for pieces in a similar color tone to mix and match. It’s also intimidating to think you have to do everything. You don’t have to do anything. You can get takeout and serve it on your china. Flowers don’t have to be expensive. Entertaining should be about connecting with other people, turning the cell phones off, having dinner. It should be easier, relaxing, more personal. Do something pretty, but it doesn’t have to be grand or expensive. You’re giving people the gift of your time.
How do you politely kick people out?
When I have big parties, I love when people stay. But if you need to set a hard stop, people respect that. People like to be told what to do. And usually when you close the bar, people will leave.
What do you love to wear when you’re hosting?
I tend to be a pants girl. I like that sense of easiness, especially with a pajama style pant; but I do love the hostess dress.