Fashion Talk
Najla  & Cynthia Burt

Najla & Cynthia Burt

Founder & Co-Founder
Label - Dur Doux

Orange is the new Black

Renowned Washington DC based mother-daughter designer duo Najla and Cynthia Burt is acclaimed for their house blends wearable pieces with edgier, vibrant, and more avant-garde elements. In an interview with Kiran Sahija, the duo talk about their experience at NYFW, and their upcoming spring summer collection.

Fibre2Fashion: What does the name Dur Doux suggest?

Najla & Cynthia Burt:

Najla Burt: These are French words which can be translated as ‘hard soft’. I came up with the name during my last semester at Parsons School of Design.

Cynthia Burt: She is the ‘hard’ part, and I am ‘soft’.

Fibre2Fashion: How do you strike a balance between work and personal life as a mother-daughter duo and brand founders? What were the challenges faced?

Najla & Cynthia Burt:

Najla Burt: I think we each individually do activities that make us happy and joyful. I go to the art museums; I go out to have brunch. I do different things that bring me joy. We go on vacations together, but sometimes we go on vacations separately.

Cynthia Burt: I am a mother, grandmother, and aunt. So, I try to carry on with those roles and it is a lot of giving and troubleshooting. That’s what the family is all about. We have our other life, and it is equally important to us, and we value it the same as we value our design.

Najla Burt: I think as mother-daughter, there will be challenges. We do not agree on everything. I have my specific thoughts about each collection that we create and the things I really want. She has her own thoughts and sometimes we just do not necessarily meet in the middle, but we figure out how to compromise and we do what is best for the brand.

Cynthia Burt: We have our unique creativity. She is a much more contemporary or ‘edgy’—a risk taker. And I am more classic and elegant; my aesthetic is very European. So, it makes a difference, but when you experiment the same, it gives you something even greater, even better and even more unique. So, that’s maybe what people see in our brand as we are really creative.

Fibre2Fashion: How would you express your aesthetics for your recent collection Le Nouvelle Mosaique?

Najla & Cynthia Burt:

Najla Burt: We came up with the name Le Nouvelle Mosaique for our collection after doing some research on different forms of art. We saw mosaic art and thought, wow, this is really beautiful, cool, and artistic. They use tiny pieces of coloured glass and other materials to create beautiful portraits. And I thought that it would be really unusual and different to do that in a modern way. So, what you see throughout the collection is different sort of prints that are reflective of mosaic art, but in a modern way. Talking about the overall collection of Dur Duox, I think it's very fun and modern and vibrant.

Fibre2Fashion: How was the experience displaying your collection at NYFW?

Najla & Cynthia Burt:

Cynthia Burt: It was intense and felt like we had done a much bigger production than we did back in September. We had more staff in our team, more sponsors, and people from many different locations. Flowers that were in the set design actually came all the way from Holland as there was a company, with which we got connected and they donated all of their flowers. We had a huge production this time around, but it was worth all the effort of the dozens and dozens of people. Everybody celebrated because they had done something incredibly unique.

Najla Burt: There were some challenges faced with the location that we had for our show which had an extremely limited amount of backyard space for makeup and hair setting. So, we had to do a lot of transitions just to make sure models get comfortably dressed in perfect hair and make-up.

Fibre2Fashion: How has the expression of avant-garde fashion and aesthetics evolved?

Najla & Cynthia Burt:

Najla Burt: In terms of our expression for avant-garde clothing, it was very pronounced as you can clearly see. We use a lot of voluminous designs for our collection, but it has softened a bit, so we are doing things in an architectural way, but in a softer sense.

Cynthia Burt: I believe, as every woman would like their clothes to be useful in all facets of their life, not just for work or going to brunch or going to a family dinner. They want to utilise all of the pieces in their wardrobe. Instead of having a little section of the closet with avant-garde pieces, they would prefer to have pieces that are usable, flexible, and comfortable on a daily basis.

Fibre2Fashion: While designing couture pieces, what sustainable practices are taken care of?

Najla & Cynthia Burt:

Cynthia Burt: A couple of collections back, we started having a close look at the fibres and fabrics that are environmentally friendly for our collection. We have just been very, very diligent with how we examine fabrics, and I must add we buy from all over the world.

Najla Burt: We also try to incorporate with left over fabrics by designing some sort of headpiece or small bags. We did that last season and, people loved it. It was like a coordinating headpiece with each look. Sometimes we also handover leftovers to college interns we work with. So, each season we do our best to avoid wastage of fabrics.

Fibre2Fashion: Which celebrities or well-known figures have appeared in your collection?

Najla & Cynthia Burt:

Cynthia Burt: All of them are American. And, of course, we had Mimi Tao for many of our projects. She has partnership with us. Her look and our clothes make for a perfect combination. She just pulls them off in a way that nobody else can. This year we also had Saje Nicole. She is Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. This was her first time with us, and she did a fantastic job. She loved the piece that we designed for her.

Fibre2Fashion: What Pantone colours and prints will have the most impact in the near future?

Najla & Cynthia Burt:

Cynthia Burt: The Berry Purple Pantone is going to remain on trend for a couple of more cycles. It is a colour that most women look really great in. Also, I believe orange is the new black as many designers including us are trying to inject Orange Pantone into our collection as it looks too vibrant and fun.

Fibre2Fashion: What are you experimenting with in terms of clothing at the moment?

Najla & Cynthia Burt:

Najla Burt: Because we are coming up in the spring summer, there will be some elements of flora and fauna that you will probably see in the upcoming collection. It will be full of colour, but you will see more of an injection of some neutrals this time, which a lot of people can appreciate. Yes, so that is currently what we are experimenting with.

What are you experimenting with in terms of clothing at the moment?

Published on: 10/03/2022

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