Our latest blog entry comes courtesy of a collaboration, between ourselves and flirty, fun and highly fashionable blogger/stylist Sophie Hannah Richardson. Sophie’s hijacked our blog to conduct an interview style account on the latest and greatest at the dolls house. She also delves deeper and asks questions about the overtly sexy nature of our latest collection, that got our designer, Paulinah sweating as she defended the line, the collection and its possible implications on the over sexualisation of women in today society.
For me, it all about attitude and behaviour- Nicki Minaj posting topless selfies on her Instagram account, has nothing to do with clothing. Neither has Rihanna feeling Shakira’s butt, in their recent duet or Miley Cyrus publicly getting her grind on a married man, old enough to be her father, while he sings: ‘I know, you wan’ it!’
What is the connection between you, dance and fashion; when did you decide you wanted to be a fashion designer and how did you start Dolls of Decadence?
I think everything, I have done career wise has merely been some sort of accident. Growing up, I was interested in drama, but looking back, I hadn’t set out to do that either. I wasn’t like a lot of the kids who did drama; who had started doing ballet or acting classes, when they were like 3; were adamant they were gonna make it doing so and had a plan of action of how to get there.
I was inner city kid, growing up on a council estate and we didn’t have the finances for fancy drama or dance lessons. But, after securing a place at a reputable drama group, through school. I caught the acting bug and I thought that’s what I wanted to do. From 11-18, I studied acting, which gave me the opportunity to do musical theatre. The buzz from performing was undeniable. And the costumes wear captivating- there was always costumes designers and seamstresses around. I had always been ok at Art, so I started approaching the seamstresses for them to produce designs for me, which they would in turn go on to produce for others; much to my dismay. It prompted me to learn to sew, create my own designs and get the credit for my work.
It was also in the performing environment, I first found my natural ability for styling my peers- although at the time, I didn’t know that an occupation in styling could exist- These all formed my first encounters with both the fashion and dance industry.
It should have been an obvious decision to merge the two, but actually it wasn’t. I wanted to set up a stand alone fashion brand: my first customers were dancers and performers, and I was already making commissioned pieces for that customer base. I set up Dolls of Decadence, initially for that target audience, to make separating that client base from the fashion line- that was never to start- easy.
How did you come up with the name for your company?
I had the name way before, Dolls of Decadence became the brand it is today. It seemed fitting for the brand I was trying to launch, at the time. The path DDUK was on, was a very different one, from the one it has taken. Had Dolls of Decadence become the line it had initially started off as; a dance wear company- the title was easy and is completely fitting.
Up until recently, I had been agonizing about changing the name of the brand, to something a little more neutral; that left no room for people to create perceptions of the line or categorize it, by the obvious. I didn’t change the brand name then, as I felt I was still trying to establish it, create brand awareness and I deemed it too confusing to start changing its title, part way through the progress of building it. It does mean, I am constantly fighting peoples ignorance about what I do. I just don’t take it personally anymore.
What was the first item of clothing you ever designed?
Early working drawing of FRANCESSA dress
One of the first items of clothing, I designed after leaving college was the FRANCESSA mullet dress, in 2009- I fell in love with the fabric- although it was a bold pattern, which can sometimes determine the age and era of a garment. It felt and looked so timeless. I guess, I was right, as I didn’t actually create the design, until 2012. And it was only last year, when it was actually put into production.
What is your philosophy and main inspiration for Dolls of Decadence and who is your target market?
The core of what I do, is based on where I started with the line- the notion of using dance silhouettes in a fashion forward way. This element led way to establishing and more importantly understanding my target market of women: aged 18 -35 with a cohort attitude towards glamorous sexy, bold colours and slightly risqué cuts. Dolls of Decadence is for women confident with their body and don’t mind showing it.
What inspired you for your designs for this collection?
I wanted to pay homage to my first collection for Dolls of Decadence; created back in 2010- it was a collection that set precedent of what the brand was about. Since, then I have always tried to push the envelope of what the brand does, whilst conforming to the brands aesthetic; working with the same silhouettes inspired by dance genres to produce creations, that worked on the fashion front.
I regularly, look back at my past works as a reflection of direction to understand, where I want to go with the line. For this particular collection, I wanted to look way back. So, I worked completely with stretch based fabrics, as I had for my first collection and almost recreated each of the looks from that collection in some way.
The sports luxe trend has been really big on the fashion scene; I wanted to present my interpretation of this, and merging it with dominatrix inspired cuts, gave the collection a bitt of an unusual perspective. It also gave me something to focus on, unlike collections prior, where I largely focused on carving out and compounding the brands character.
I notice, with this collection, you seem to have injected, even more so than usual; revealing designs with a lot of cut out sections, mesh, thigh high slits and the dominatrix inspired silhouettes. There has been a lot of stick about celebrities dressing too “sexually” ie Rihanna, Miley Cyrus.
Why did you choose to create a collection so raunchy at this current time with all the negativity surrounding the over sexualisation of women in general and popular culture?
I agree the collection, does loan itself to the sexual side, more than per, but its always been that way with Dolls of Decadence; about pushing boundaries- playing on the borders of what’s sexy and what’s trashy. So, I didn’t consciously choose to release a risque collection now. In fact, I too don’t agree with the over-sexual behaviour of many of the stars of the now. I guess, this could be seen as a contradiction, judging by some of my own work, but I’m not going to apologise or change what I do, because a few public figures don’t know how to conduct themselves. It doesn’t mean, I don’t care.
I remember, saying to the style team when shooting the look book, things like: “We can’t team the crop top with that short skirt, it’ll give the wrong impression!”
However, I genuinely don’t believe women should be given any label, for the way they dress.
For me, it all about attitude and behaviour- Nicki Minaj posting topless selfies on her Instagram account, has nothing to do with clothing. Neither has Rihannafeeling Shakira’s butt, in their recent duet or Miley Cyrus publicly getting her grind on a married man, old enough to be her father, while he sings: ‘I know, you wan’ it!’
Ok, so- I did have the model pose topless in the EVOQUE leggings, for this collection and yes- I guess that was to provoke a reaction. Every once, in a while, you gotta do a little something that makes people look/talk… even then, I think its tasteful. I did think about it. I mean, come on, there wasn’t any oversize silicone on show.
Do you think you are channelling this view of “sexualisation of women”? Do you think you can change people’s minds?
No- not at all. I think the economic society is what is influencing the sexualisation of women. What was, once not acceptable in terms of music and what is shown on television has now almost become the norm; where the most talked about and celebrated public figure of now, is a promiscuous reality star, who talents include uploading ass shots on to the internet.
Where as Fashion is a cycle; everything that is being done now has already been done in some way, shape or form. Sexy women’s wear has always existed- the majority of women will always want sexy clothes.
So, although you might look at this collection, as collective and think ‘raunchy’, when you dissect it, then not so much.
For example: the FROLICKS Suspender bikini set- is this too sexy, if so how? If you’re on the beach in a bikini, then your on a beach in a bikini. The fact it plays on the kinky suspender look. Doesn’t mean you are showing any more or any less skin, that you are in a regular two piece bathing suit.
I can’t necessarily change peoples mind, about this issue. I can, do and will continue to educate my child about my feelings on it, and if other parents do the same, we can ensure the next generation, don’t conform to the idea that overtly sexual explicitly is standard.
The sports luxe trend has been really big on the fashion scene; I wanted to present my interpretation of this, and merging it with dominatrix inspired cuts, gave the collection a bitt of an unusual perspective.
Do you think there is a line that some people cross in dressing “sexy”? Can there be a tasteful way of dressing “sexy”?
Yeah- definitely, I believe there is a tasteful way of dressing sexy. I coined the phrase; “Where the back is the new cleavage” for my line, as my own interpretation of sexy.
I think, showing your back is equally as sexy as showing your cleavage, but just more tasteful.
But, if you are gonna show cleavage, you don’t need two melons on your chest to do so.
At, DDUK we’re always hearing customers say, things like: “I love that low cut top, but I can’t wear it- I have no boobs.” I’m like, are you kidding me, then this top was made for you! A lot of women, think you need ample assets to show off a low cut top, but in actual fact. Its the exact opposite.
When making the collection, it was a conscious decision to make individual pieces, so if, for example: you don’t want to flash your back, as well as your legs in the VICE Suspender skirt with the BODY CONTACT bodysuit, you don’t have to. A plain black vest top is an excellent alternative, to wear with this type of skirt.
Do you wear your designs yourself? If no, why not? And if yes, why do you wear them?
Absolutely- I’m forever championing the brand and wearing stuff by Dolls of Decadence. I think, if I don’t believe in my product enough to wear it, then why should I expect anyone else to do so. When I first started, the line I used myself as the muse, so designed largely for myself- it was a bonus to have other people like and want to wear it. I have since stopped; once I had established ‘who’ the Dancing Doll customer is.
If you could pick any celebrity to wear your designs right now whom would you choose?
Without a doubt Little Mix and Kimberley Wyatt (former Pussycat doll)- I think, they would a great representation of the DDUK brand.
Sophie Hannah Richardson is a Freelance Fashion Stylist, Blogger and Shopcade Fashion Correspondent whom graduated from Southampton Solent University with a First Class Honors in BA (Hons) Fashion with Photography.