Designer Donald Deal

Good Design Has No Shortcuts

Donald Deal always wanted to be a designer. Having graduated from the Skadron Fashion Institute in California, he began his career at Paramount Studios as a designer and wardrobe stylist. As Donald progressed in his profession, he was mentored by iconic designer, James Galanos, who was impressed by Donald’s tailoring skills. “I learned many things from Galanos. Perhaps the most important thing he taught me was to hone my craft…that there are no shortcuts,” says Donald.

Donald later went on to be the design director of Eva Chun, and in 1991 he opened his business, launching his own collection.

I did everything myself, drafting patterns, sewing, and shipping,” says Donald. “My business started to grow and I hired employees. A lot changed due to the recession of 2008 but we were able to change too.”

His collection of evening gowns, dresses, and separates are defined by impeccable tailoring and uncompromising attention to detail. Using the finest quality fabrics, each piece is intricately hand-sewn and often beaded with glass, crystal, and semi-precious stones. This commitment to quality and design has created one-of-a-kind couture looks that have graced the pages of national fashion magazines and often appear on the red carpet.

Donald has appeared on national television shows such as Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, E! Entertainment Television, and ABC’s The View. His designs have been featured in numerous high fashion and lifestyle magazines such as W, Harper’s Bazaar, Town and Country, Vanity Fair, and Allure. Donald made his Broadway debut as the designer for Kathie Lee Gifford in Stephen Sondheim’s “Putting It Together” and designed her gowns when she hosted the Daytime Emmy Awards. Other clients include Sharon Stone, Geena Davis, Vanessa Williams, Laura Linney, Bette Midler, Lisa Kudrow, and Barbara Walters.

My clients lean toward the intellectual side,” says Donald. “They know it’s not just about spending a substantial amount of money on a gown, and they are usually open to advice and guidance. I’ve been doing this a long time. I know what will look good. Most women only see their issues, I see their assets.”

Clients interested in having Donald design a custom gown must be sure to order as early as possible. Start by making an appointment to visit Donald’s 40th Street showroom in New York City to shop, select a look, and discuss options. Then, return for a canvas fitting which is a muslin mock-up of the style of dress. Lace may need to be ordered from France, and the partially assembled dress may be shipped to India for the hand-beading of thousands of Swarovski crystals. Once the dress is returned to Donald, the client is called for the final fitting and approval. All styles are lined in charmeuse. “All you need is perfume,” says Donald.

Donald Deal’s collections have been presented on the runways of New York Fashion Week since 1994 and are sold to exclusive retailers nationwide. In addition, he offers custom-made couture clothing to a select clientele. This one-on-one collaboration is something he truly enjoys. “When a client puts her trust in me there is a wonderful journey ahead…for both of us. It’s still fun for me 30 years later!”

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