Story by Wendy Liberatore
Photography by Thomas Williams
When a woman enters Daniel Mozzes’ studio, she usually leaves feeling like a princess—beautiful, chic and sophisticated.
That’s because Mozzes, a haute couturier, knows how to dress a woman. Billowing folds of chiffons, taffetas and silks overlaid with rosettes, tulle or feathers is his signature. His designs are for her—to complement her coloring, her style. And then he stitches a dress by hand, until it hugs and complements every curve of her frame.
And both Mozzes and his clientele couldn’t be more delighted.
“Just to see a woman’s smile when she puts on one of my dresses—that’s everything,” says Mozzes. “It makes me feel so happy.”
Certainly, every woman can find satisfaction when pursuing couture bliss with Mozzes. Both his Albany studio and Broadway’s Saratoga Trunk, where his original designs are sold, are packed with his one-of-a-kind gowns and dresses.
“No one wants to be seen wearing the same dress at a party,” says Mozzes. “I never repeat.”
And within those racks of dresses, one can easily find a design to shape a woman’s size or style. But in order to step into a Mozzes dress, one has to love bold patterns and colors, and also embellishment. His gowns are bedecked with little bits of fabric, jewels, sequins or pleats, which transform the frocks into moving, living works of art. But it is the fabric, the very heart of the dress, that inspires Mozzes.
“I like to play with material,” says Mozzes, standing among the racks in his studio. “The material tells me what it will be.”
As he caresses the sleek fabric of one of his gowns, he talks about going to New York where he buys his material, often bolts that no one else wants. But his suppliers will concede, “Daniel will do something with it.”
If there is not enough yardage, Mozzes will cut it into little bits of fabric that he attaches to a skirt or bodice. Or if the color or texture is garish, he’ll transform it into a smart looking jacket.
“I like unique, crazy,” he says. “Fashion is about being different.”
Looking outside of his Albany window, seeing everyone in black, like a drab winter uniform, makes Mozzes feel dismal. He resists conformity and then turns to shows off a short, stylish, yellow fur coat he is currently sewing.
“People should be wearing color, even men. Why not?”
He has a persuasive charm that can entice the skeptical to his side of the fashion argument. He has convinced conservative women to don backless gowns in bright or wild prints, and a redhead to wear and love pink.
“When she comes out of the dressing room, she looked in the mirror and makes a big smile,” says Mozzes. “I know what looks good.”
Natalie Sillery, owner of Saratoga Trunk, agrees: “Daniel has a great eye.”
Sillery—whom Mozzes calls his “godmother”— became interested in him a little more than two years ago after attending one of his runway shows. She has been carrying his designs, priced from $200 to $500, ever since.
“I was interested in Daniel the moment I saw his work,” says Sillery, who frequents Paris and compares him with Dior and Givenchy.
Her interest was piqued by his plucky use of fabric, which she calls “genius.”
“Daniel has an eye for fabric,” she says. “That is his forte. But what I love about Daniel the most is his creativity. If you have a bit of whimsy or daring, Daniel’s designs are for you. He doesn’t create fashion, he creates style.”
His presence in Saratoga Springs is most notable during the summer high season of galas and balls. But last spring, one of Mozzes’ dresses ended up in Hollywood, grazing the red carpet at the Academy Awards.
Sandy Curley of Clifton Park wore a Mozzes gown to the Oscar ceremony with her son Tom, one of the nominees.
“The dress he designed for me was very elegant, exquisite,” says Curley, whose son ended up winning Best Sound Mixing for Whiplash. “It had a scalloped neck that hooked around the back. You couldn’t see the zipper. It was full-length, black, with green and silver leaves running through the material. It was so comfortable. Daniel helped me pick out a vintage pocketbook to go with it. He was so easy to work with. I could tell that making the dress was a passion for him, a real love.”
That love was always there. It was inspired by Mozzes’ mother and grandmother, both of whom were devoted to looking their best.
“My grandmother always wore heels, even when she was 80 years old,” he says. “She didn’t own a pair of flats. In her purse, she always carried lipstick, mascara and perfume. I remember, too, my mother used to draw a line up the back of her leg before she went out—to make it look like she has was wearing silk stockings.”
Mozzes was fascinated by these female beauty rituals and honors them when he meets with his clients.
“I don’t care how old a woman is, she wants to look good. She wants to look sexy,” says Mozzes. “I want to dress them so that they feel special.”
He began his career in the fashion ateliers of Paris. When he came to New York, he started to experiment with his own designs. Four years ago, he introduced his label.
“If you love something so much, you have to make it happen,” he says.
This spring, he will unveil his newest creations in an April runway show at the Renaissance Hotel in Albany. There, he will reveal his latest interest—styles for men.
“Men are always in black, gray or dark blue,” says Mozzes. “I want to see them in red, pink, yellow and orange. People need to put on color because when you dress, you should dress for yourself. You should dress so people notice you.”
In a Mozzes design, that’s inevitable. For more information, check out Mozzes online at DanielMozzesDesign.com.
Models at the Daniel Mozzes show to benefit the Albany Damien Center at the NYS Museum.
Photography by Thomas Williams
Sandy Curley of Clifton Park wore a Mozzes gown to the Oscar ceremony with her son Tom, one of the nominees. “The dress he designed for me was very elegant, exquisite,” says Curley, whose son ended up winning Best Sound Mixing for Whiplash.