If you drive past the corner of Victory Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., you’ll see a big blue house with “4 twenty two” on the outside gate. The building has been empty for some time, but if you look closely today, you can tell there’s something going on. There are paint cans, ladders, and tools going in and out. The lights are on, and there’s a car parked out front.
What you can’t see from the street is a room full of gorgeous gowns, all created by Danietté Thomas. Thomas is a local fashion designer, and soon 422 W. 43rd Street will be transformed into her new hub, House of DANIETTÉ.
With over 3,000 square feet, the space is made up of two floors, a fully functioning kitchen, an outdoor bar and an outdoor courtyard. Thomas said the House of DANIETTÉ is equipped to serve the Savannah community in lots of different ways.
The front room will be a consultation room for Thomas’ styling and custom creations clients. The next room will be an interactive dressing room with a stage, mirrors and seating for family and friends. The outside space will be a wedding and events venue.
“Having a venue space will be very useful, especially during COVID,” Thomas said. “A lot of people’s events got postponed. Brides will be able to be fully serviced here. They can get their dress made, get fitted and measured, and even get alterations here. They can also have their reception here, their wedding here. It’s an all-in-one service area.”
Upstairs will be where Thomas tackles something she’s been itching to do for years. She’ll be teaching design classes to adults and children.
“I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’d like to just take an alterations class so they can learn how to hem their pants, things like that,” Thomas said. “It will be something that is very much needed here.”
Thomas said she began sewing clothes around the age of 11.
“I was sketching stuff that I couldn’t find in the stores,” Thomas said. “I didn’t have to wear a uniform to school anymore, so my brain reached a different level of creativity.”
She was later connected with her mom’s coworker, who was getting a masters degree at the Savannah College of Art and Design for Fashion Design (SCAD).
“I worked with this person for a couple of years, doing one-on-one sewing classes after school,” Thomas said. “He taught me the basics that were taught at SCAD. We did the whole binder, we learned how to make a skirt, shirt and jacket.”
Thomas went on to graduate from SCAD as well. She said she credits much of her success in college and post-grad to working hard and starting at an early age.
However, Thomas said that many Savannah children aren’t exposed to fashion design while they’re in elementary, middle or even high school. She said she feels fortunate that she discovered her passion before going to college.
“You don’t want to spend two years at a university thinking you want to do something, then you find yourself at year three, four and you want to swap it and realize you aren’t at the right institution for what you want to do,” Thomas said.
She said she hopes to help her students find their passion and fuel it so they succeed.
“The more we can help our children find who they are and what they love, the better off they will be,” Thomas said.
Whether they’re learning to sew, getting advice on shopping for work, or ordering a custom gown for an event; Thomas said she hopes every person who comes into House of DANIETTÉ leaves feeling “elevated.”
“It’s important that my clients feel good in what they’re wearing,” Thomas said. “It’s important that they understand why what they’re wearing looks good. It’s not just giving a man a fish, it’s teaching a man to fish.”
Thomas still has some furniture to refurbish and some walls to paint, but said she’s more and more eager to open her doors every day.
“I’m excited,” she said. “I’ve been holding this secret for a while and I’m ready to let the world know.”
Danietté Thomas writes a weekly fashion/advice column for Connect Savannah. House of DANIETTÉ will host a grand opening event on Oct. 21. All services will be by appointment only. Follow Thomas on social media @designerdaniette to stay up to date, and email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about event booking.