Darcey Sergison interviews Boston’s empowering new designer, Julia Bailey, about her first collection focused on embracing and redefining the meaning behind ‘intimidating’.
Hi Julia, it is great to talk to you about your new brand Julia Bailey Designs. For those new and current, in three words, who is Julia Bailey Designs?
Hi everyone! My name is Julia Bailey, and I am an apparel designer from Boston, Massachusetts. If I had to describe Julia Bailey Designs in three words it would be bold, feminine, and fearless.
Congratulations on your launch of Julia Bailey Designs! Tell us, what are the origins of this new label? What sparked the idea to create your own label?
Thank you! Julia Bailey Designs was created for all women, and those who want to feel feminine and edgy, in mind. The main goal of my work has always been to promote confidence and inspire everyone to fully embrace who they are. My very first collection, Future of Femme, really emphasises that, and is the foundation of my brand and design aesthetic. This collection is based on the idea of owning your own power and femininity and I aim to carry these morals with me throughout my next collections and years to come.
What does fashion mean to you?
I could probably talk about what fashion means to me for hours! I started sewing when I was seven years old and never really stopped. It sounds so cheesy, but fashion is literally my whole life. I have never pictured myself doing anything else. It is such a powerful art form and there is so much emotion and passion put into it that is so inspiring. I love the feeling of sketching out a new design and seeing it come to life. When you finish the final stitches and see what it looks like on a person for the first time it is like an adrenaline rush! It is so cool to know that you put your heart and soul into something and no one else has the piece that you created. It can be extremely stressful and frustrating at times, but it is all worth it once you see the final product.
Julia Bailey Designs aims to empower women. What drew you to creating womenswear specifically? And where do you draw inspiration for your signature styles?
I love this question! The sole purpose of Julia Bailey Designs, and in life in general, is to show women how capable they are. There have been so many times in my life when I have been told that I can’t do something or that I won’t be successful, and I have heard so many more stories of women relating to this and that makes me so mad. I also have so many powerful female figures in my life, like my mom, my sister and all of my aunts, who inspire me daily to be the best version of myself and be bold and unapologetic.
I get inspired by a lot of things but mostly by other females and their stories and personalities. If I can make just one other female feel powerful and confident then I know I have achieved my goal.
Tell us about the Future of Femme Collection: Where did you find inspiration for the colours, silhouettes, and textures you used in your designs?
The Future of Femme Collection means everything to me and my brand. It really is the foundation of who I am as a designer. It was initially inspired by the idea of “femininity vs. intimidation” and the negative connotations that come along with a female being called intimidating. When a man is called intimidating, he is praised, but when a woman is called intimidating, she is told to change herself or tone down who she is. Personally, I have been told I am intimidating, and I can bet a lot of the London Runway readers have too. It made me feel horrible and like I was doing something wrong. The Future of Femme Collection aims to change those ideas and connotations attached to the word “intimidating” and turn it into a positive and powerful thing. When I started designing, I knew I wanted to use the classic femme colour pink and mix it with lots of blacks and metallics to make it more edgy and bold. I also took lots of inspiration from a snake shedding its skin but turned that into a woman shedding the negative skin that intimidation has trapped her in.
All of the looks from the collection have parts that are extending from the body or look like they are falling or “shedding” off just like the snake. I love playing with texture and most of the looks all have either a leather mixed with a power mesh to play with transparency or a cool textured double woven to mimic the texture of snakeskin.
Tell us more about your research behind the word intimidating and how this inspired your work?
The research aspect of Future of Femme and the word “intimidating” were so eye-opening and fun! This collection originally started with my personal experiences, but I knew there had to be women out there who have also had similar experiences with the word. So, with that, I took to Instagram and created a poll for my followers to interact with. The first question asked if any of my female identifying followers have been told they are intimidating.
About 372 people viewed it and of those who answered 76% said they have been told they were intimidating. The second question asked if this was a good or bad experience. 44% said it was a good experience and 56% said it was a negative experience. For the last part I put a response box and asked if anyone would feel comfortable sharing how they reacted and how it made them feel. The responses were truly remarkable. Some females said that it made them feel strong and like they were doing something right but most of the responses were of females saying they felt like they had to change who they were. Some said they felt isolated, confused, hurt, unapproachable and so much more. That is when Future of Femme became so much more than a collection of garments and really a place and a platform for all females to fully embrace their personal power and feel free to express who they truly are.
What is the biggest takeaway you want women to feel while wearing your apparel collections?
The biggest takeaway that I want women to feel while wearing my clothes is that they are capable of anything they put their mind to and no matter what someone is always there to support them, even if it’s just me. I believe that we are all capable of so much and hold so much power within ourselves and I want my clothes to mimic that power and strength. It’s like that feeling when you put on your most favourite outfit and feel like you can take over the world, I want all of the garments in my collection to hold that power.
What can we expect from future projects?
I have so many ideas for future projects! One thing that I would really love to do is take a stab at sportswear and create a tennis collection. I have always been an athlete and exercise is a huge part of my life so I would love to combine my two passions of design and sport. Tennis is my favourite sport and can also be very fashionable so I would love to design a collection for on and off the court. No matter the concept of my future collections they will all centre around the theme of female empowerment and helping females to realise and embrace their inner strengths and power.
Final words! Anything you’d like to say to our readers?
First, I would just like to say thank you so much for letting me speak with you and get to know the London Runway family a bit more. It is such an honour to be able to share my story and my first collection with you all. It is crazy to think that Future of Femme started as an idea in my head and has now made it all the way from Boston to London. While reading this and exploring the collection I hope you find something to relate to, whether it be the experiences with the word “intimidation”, or ever feeling like you are too “feminine”, or that you have to tone yourself down just because someone else said to. You are not alone, and you have so much power inside you. I hope this collection and my future collections help you to realise your inner power and inspire you to own it for all that it is. This is only the beginning, welcome to the Future of Femme and Julia Bailey Designs.