Interview: ALYCIA MARIE DEAN JOHNS

Rhiannon D’Averc sat down with one half of the team behind Holidolls, to discuss the brand, how it came about, and how it’s empowering women to add a little sparkle to their lives.

Tell me about the history of the brand.

It started about four years ago, with me and my best friend – my business partner. We had an idea… I had just recently moved to London. I’d studied fashion design, I’d worked for top labels, and she loves swimwear. She travels, and I travel, that’s how we’re really good friends. I thought, why don’t we make a swimwear brand that’s different to everything else that’s on the market? A lot of times, me and her, we’d create our own wear for holidays, or adjust things or change things a little bit to make it more to ourselves. There was nothing really on the market that fit what we wanted. To be different, to be unique – especially on holiday, where you don’t want to match or wear something that everyone else is wearing. It was the whole idea about being different, being unique, and then we came up with Holidolls – which is the combination of holiday and dolls.

How long ago was that?

That was four years ago, in 2014, when we launched our brand.

Tell me more about the two of you.

We’ve been friends for a decade now. We met in Italy, where I used to live, and I worked as a fashion designer for some top brands. We hit it off, two crazy personalities. We just travel the world and do so many things together. Which is what our brand embodies – travelling, enjoying life, living your best life.

What’s your current collection like?

We just came out with the new collection of resort wear. It kind of embodies our brand, because they’re not your typical pieces. They’re tie-ups and all the things you probably wouldn’t see as resort wear. Then we’ve also come out with a more affordable line that is a bit for everyone, but still at top level. We came up with matching skin tone swimsuits, because we wanted to address the subject that’s been on everyone’s mouth: that nude is no longer just one colour. Or, it’s never actually been one colour, but it’s always been described as one colour by the fashion industry! So, it was addressing this in swimwear, which quite a few brands have now, but doing it in a more glamorous, fashionable, unique, way.

Do you have any plans for a new collection coming up?

Yes, we are coming up with our next swimwear line that we haven’t launched. It’s a mix of nice materials that just feel good on the skin, but always incorporating details of beaded, bejewelled, encrusted pieces.

Everything’s made in Italy, right?

Yes, it is – 100% made in Italy.

What made you go for that choice?

When I studied fashion design, I specialised in handmade products – so embroidery, knitwear, beading, fishnet knitting, all sorts. I saw that there’s a huge demand for it, because in Italy, the majority of the fashion houses that used to do it have either died out because people got too old to do it and don’t have anyone to teach to continue it, or they’ve made it so ridiculously expensive that it’s not reachable. It’s only reachable for the 1% of the population. They’ll buy one, two, three, and that’s it. We wanted to create something that is in reachable means for everyone, but still incorporates this old long-time tradition from Italy of handmade things, which are better quality and last longer.

I saw a couple of your pieces at Pure London, how was that for you?

Pure London was good. It’s a very new scene, we did make quite a few contacts and we saw our brand take another level.

What’s it like to have your items walking down the runway?

It’s great. I mean, we’ve done Miami Fashion Week the year before, we’ve done Pure London, and next year we plan to do Miami and France. It’s great to see what you can imagine come to life and be worn by people, and be appreciated and understood. People liking it and having interest in it.

What have your biggest challenges been so far?

As a small company, our challenges are always getting your name out there, having people recognise you. Nowadays it’s very much connected to who do you know, who have you worked with. That’s probably the biggest challenge as a small brand because people want to know, who are you, especially when they don’t know you because you’re new on the scene. Even though your product could be good, if people don’t know your name or who you are, it’s really about that. The most challenging bit is probably getting your name out there, getting seen by the right customers, people that will buy your product.

So, who is that right customer?

I would say a very independent woman. Hardworking, has her own business even, or is in a position of development. That takes care of herself. Her wardrobe is important to her – what she looks like on holiday, at home, going out, in the office, her every detail matters.

Is there a celebrity or social influencer who you would love to see wearing them?

Rihanna! Because I just love her – she’s crazy and she just doesn’t care what people think. Our brand embodies that quite a bit, because it’s a woman that doesn’t care what people think. She’s confident in herself, she feels good about herself, with curves or without curves, with boobs or without boobs, with ass, without ass. Just does herself. I think [Rihanna] really loves herself and could care less what people think. She does herself, and people love her for doing her.

How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is everywhere and all over the place! My personal style matches my mood and personality, and there’s several shades of Alycia. It can be from metropolitan city chic to eclectic and eccentric to over the top. Really, I have so many sides of my personality and I match what I wear to that.

Do you have a favourite piece out of the lines you’ve created so far?

My absolute favourite piece… ooh, that’s tough, because there’s a couple! I guess out of my newest line, Mystique. The cut, the shape, it’s our one-piece that’s a thong Brazilian kind of thing, and it really sits nicely on the body. That’s probably my favourite at the moment.

Do you wear them yourself?

Yes! All the time. I don’t even wear them just as swimsuits, I throw them on with a pair of pants or skirt and I’m rocking it as an outfit.

Do you get people asking you, “Where’d you get that from?”

Yes, ALL THE TIME! Even friends that buy our line, they get stopped. They always get stopped.

That’s a sign of something exciting!

Yes, it is. It’s a good sign.

Do you have anything exciting coming up?

Like I said, this next summer we’re planning on participating in Miami Fashion Week. Hopefully our own solo show. Possibly also with other designers, we don’t mind sharing. Then participating in Splash Paris, which is a very big trade show for high-end swimwear in Europe.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

I guess it’s related to social media, but it’s more to do with what’s happening now in the world with social media. Things have happened to people, and the first thing that people think about is not helping that person, but posting it on social media. Most of us know the famous rapper that was murdered in Miami and then another kid that was murdered in New York, and people, instead of helping, videotaped it and posted it on social media. That is one thing I want to change about the world. Our indifference to wrongs going on around us.

Why do you think we have that right now?

I think we’re kind of brainwashed by social media. I’m a little older – I come from a generation where social media was just starting, so… I am hooked liked everyone, I can’t say I don’t check my phone and stuff, but I do realise that sometimes I do put my phone down. It just becomes an obsession, people are trolling and they’re just horrible, because it’s easy to be horrible to someone online. It’s hard to look someone in the face and say the same thing.

What’s your inspiration as a designer?

I take from my experiences of life, I don’t just copy. I think a lot – not everyone, but quite a few brands copy what they already see, which it’s hard not to. You look at something, you like it, and then it’s in your brain. But I try and pick more from my experiences, from where I’ve been, especially in colours, shapes, and styles. Things that I think would suit someone’s body.

Anything you’d like to add?

One thing I want to say, Holidolls is not your typical brand, even in the sense of what the woman looks like – it’s a woman who embraces her curves, her defects, her flaws and everything. All of our models that we pick are curvy, have hips, have ass, have boobs, or even skinny ones that maybe don’t have boobs, but we embrace and we photoshoot and promote being powerful and feeling good within yourself.

Shop Holidolls and follow their collections at holidolls.com


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