ABOUT DR. ROMANELLI
At Darren Romanelli's studio, the doctor is always in. With myriad identities that evolve as quickly as the trends he shapes, the 34-year-old innovator, a.k.a. Dr. Romanelli, a.k.a. DRx, is already an international household name. In fashion, music and marketing, Romanelli applies his singular aesthetic vision and exacting standards to a unified stylistic philosophy he calls personalization customization.
In the pursuit of revitalizing and revamping, Dr. Romanelli is a true surgeon. Rather than starting from scratch, he approaches each new project as a hybrid, using preexisting cultural elements and brands as a foundation and breathing new life into them with his own unique imprint. The result is neither old nor new, retro nor futuristic, but a one-of-a-kind product that bridges the gap between longtime devotees and the next generation.
Romanelli's found-fashion obsession is long-standing and was born of necessity, dating back to his education at the University of Oregon, where his early thirst for an eclectic style, coupled with a student's budget,inspired him to become a regular at vintage clothing stores in Eugene. He had no idea that what began as a natural extension of his innate design sense and unbridled creativity, putting a fresh spin on the older and established, would soon evolve into a lucrative career.
Now a full-service designer, Romanelli is intimately involved with all levels of a project's development, from inception to display to promotion. Each new series of Romanelli's customized clothing, for example, occasions a complementary art installation to showcase the work. Whether he is creating independently or collaborating with any one of a number of well-known brands, Romanelli believes providing a narrative context for the work through a highly stylized exhibition format is what makes it memorable and marketable. My work is about storytelling, he explains. It's about connecting with consumers through the rich and authentic stories I tell via creating not only my spin on the newly designed product, but the marketing that goes into launching the product.
Naturally, Romanelli also needed a venue that could accommodate his expansive vision and his grandiose concepts for product display. So in 2006, he launched the groundbreaking 181 Martel, a retail space/gallery in Los Angeles that houses all of his highly sought-after goods. Exhibitions at 181 Martel included June 13th, a collaboration between DRx and Jose Parla; Surjury for Hurley; Black Sabbath Resurrection; and DRx/Looney Tunes, for which classic Warner Bros. cartoon characters underwent a bold visual overhaul. But Romanelli's ultimate opportunity to raise the bar for personalizing time-honored brands was the Nike Reconstruction show, in which he had 24 hours to turn a cutting room's worth of Nike's raw materials into a celebrated piece of art , and another successful clothing collection.
Despite these revolutionary successes, Romanelli was not content to limit himself to visual design. Instead, he decided to also apply his talent for forecasting trends and creating fresh perspectives to the music industry, and he signed on to manage L.A.-based rock band Ima Robot. To spread the word about his new clients, he produced guerilla art campaigns, and in this most public of arenas , the streets , Romanelli succeeded in making the band one of the most celebrated groups of its genre.
Romanelli's triumph with Ima Robot inspired him to found StreetVirus, a boutique marketing agency that specializes in creating custom-tailored marketing campaigns to reinvigorate some of the biggest names around, including Disney, FOX, Warner Bros. and Converse. He has also teamed up with Jose Parla on creating the June13th limited collection for Celux, and with Parisian artist Fafi on an exclusive collaboration for Colette. In 2007, Romanelli transformed Jaeger-LeCoultre's Reverso, a line of luxury Swiss watches, into a limited-edition DRx/Reverso watch-jacket combination, worn by numerous celebrities, including Madonna, and shown in installations in the world's top boutiques, such as Isetan, Japan; Maxfields, Los Angeles; and, Colette, Paris. Working with Japan's Sophnet creator, Hirofumi Kiyonaga, Romanelli also turned out seven desirable collections of FCRB jackets, hoodies, bags and blankets. DRx has also collaborated with HUF on a hunting-inspired range and continues to develop product with Levi's. Romanelli designed the highly sought-after band-aid Chuck Taylor for Converse in conjunction with RED and has just released the DRx USA Chuck Taylor program exclusively for the U.K. market.
Romanelli's recent efforts have been centered on creating a DRx Fraggle Rock world and clothing collection, which premiered in Los Angeles at Kitson and in Paris at Colette. Fall Out ToyWorks, a comic book and animation initiative he created with the band Fall Out Boy, and a unique DRx interpretation of Hello Kitty for her 35th anniversary . Romanelli also curated an exhibition with Eric Nakamura of Giant Robot showcasing Japanese artist Masakatsu Sashie celebrating the life of Glam Rock legend TREX through a series of paintings.
In 2010 Romanelli launched a military-inspired collection with Japan's legendary Americana resurrection specialist brand, The Real McCoy's. DRx and Hitoshi Tsujimoto will soon tackle Beetle Bailey launching in early 2011. With the support of legendary cartoonist Mort Walker, Tsujimoto and Romanelli are using the classic comic strip as inspiration for a new kind ofresurrection and repurposing: With the Beetle Bailey collection, DRx is creating a whimsical approach to Americana, and, simultaneously, showcasing tastemaker culture in a very unique format.
Volume and visibility of these achievements notwithstanding, Romanelli insists that personal significance is a prerequisite for any partnership he joins. The only way I will partake in a collaboration, he says, is if there is some level of connectivity and excitement with the brand I'm working with. Integrity, after all, is the primary thread in Romanelli's endeavors. I didn't go into this business because I thought I could make money from it, he declares. I got into it because I had passion for it. In a world where information and technology are forcing us to constantly challenge ourselves to rethink how brands define their identities in an ever-changing marketplace, it's good to know there's a doctor in the house.
SPIRIT OF 76
MOTOR CITY MELTDOWN
SURGICAL STRIKE NIKE
2000 - 2003
2004 - 2005
2006 - 2007
Medically engineered in Los Angeles.
Copyright © 2011 DRx Romanelli