A Glimpse of Paradise - Damsel In This Dress' Melina Hollway

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I've always been a huge fan of the amazing Damsel In This Dress. Recently, I've had the amazing opportunity to interview Melina Hollway from Damsel In This Dress. Before reading the interview, check out DITD on the website, and on Facebook
Melina Hollway, 32, from Damsel In This Dress, her favourite colour is pink. Growing up Melina was raised in a family that didn't have much but despite that she managed to find the beauty in everything which lead to a big imagination and from an early age Melina had a creative side, she would often make things out of the oddest things and somehow make them beautiful. Her mum was a sewer and would make garments for friends and family and along the way Melina watched her skills and picked them up as her own and finally took on design.

  • How did you get started in making clothing? One of my main passions was and still is op shopping, in my early 20's  i would go shopping at local second hand stores in search of old bits of jewellery, fabric and treasures that I could pull apart and remake into some new piece of clothing, bag or accessory, that is how I began my journey of making clothing.
  • When did you realise you wanted to create clothing? from the age of 12 I started to hand make things and sell them at school from there I knew I wanted to end up in fashion.
  • What do you enjoy most about creating things? I enjoy the very beginning of an idea that I have in my head  and the excitement it creates to the after the idea has come to life and I get to see pictures of my design on its new owner.
  • Do you consider yourself an artist? Yes 
  • Do you prefer sketching designs or actually constructing them? I don't sketch as there isn't often enough time for me to do that as I construct all the garments myself which is time consuming enough. I really enjoy constructing something though.
  • What are your favourite fabrics to work with and why? I LOVE vintage floral cottons because they are so pretty and have a lot of character and are easy to work with. I also love working with textured lace as the finished garment has so much lustre and appeal when used to create a vintage inspired garment.
  • What are your favourite prints to work with and why? I love our latest novelty prints we have been working with, batman, star wars, little mermaid, marvel comic prints etc, they are so fun and we love seeing our customers send in there pics of them wearing them on fun nights out.
  • What are your favourite colours to work with and why? I love working with pinky, apricot and flesh colours because they reflect my vintage style and work well with that soft girly look that I try to achieve.
  • How would your define your personal style? My personal style is very bohemian, lots of feather, natural stones, bones jewellery, I love wearing rose browns and chain headpieces, and I love my kaftans their so easy to wear and are perfect with tights and heels or a day at the beach.
  • How would you define the fashion of the city/town you live? Well being from the Gold Coast and situated by the beach there really isn't any fashion culture, Its more like what can we wear to the beach today. But in saying that I sell a lot of playsuits, vintage inspired mini dresses, crops and shorts.
  • What does Fashion mean to you? Fashion is the greatest source of self expression there is, it can define you as a person and I love the fact that I can contribute to a persons unique signature in the way they dress themselves.
  • What was the first article of clothing you ever designed? The first note worthy article of clothing would have had to be my wedding dress which I made in 2007, I had no pattern and I would just sew bits here and then hold it up and pin bits there and it turned out just beautiful.
  • Describe the general process you go through to design and construct? I get an idea in my head and then I run with it, I then choose the fabrics and embellishments I want to use. Once its clear to me what i want to make I begin to cut and sew.
  • What is the difference between designing jewellery and designing clothing? Both designing jewellery and clothes is my greatest passion so when clothing took over and I found it more business savvy to make garments over jewellery I was a little disappointed, but I did find a way to fulfill my love of making jewellery and that was by incorporating jewellery into my garments, and also making specialty pieces for photoshoots I do. They are overall the same thing as you still have to design something and then make it, I would say the only difference between the two is the market you sell to.
  • What made you decide to create Damsel in this Dress? After a severe car crash in 2009 myself and my young family were left in a tragic situation of being homeless with no money, this in turn saw the birth of Damsel in this Dress, something that i made so I could pull us out of the whole we were in.
  • How did you decide on the name? At the time of the car accident I did feel a little sorry for us and felt like a victim for a while there I felt very much like a Damsel in Distress which I wouldn't often say to people so I took those words and played on them and came up with the name Damsel in this Dress
  • Who or what is your biggest inspiration for Damsel in this Dress? I absolutely adore Alexander McQueen his label is truly inspiring and I love the labels way of embellishing and attention to detail.
  • How would you define the style of Damsel in this Dress? Romantically whimsical, quirky and fun
  • What is the most challenging thing you've had to face since starting Damsel in this Dress? The most challenging thing for the label has been hiring people, no one loves your label as much as you do so its hard to find somebody as equally as passionate about what you stand for as you.
  • What does Damsel in this Dress mean to you? DITD means to me that I have a platform to showcase my talents and designs to other lovers of whimsical and unique fashion.
  • What are you loving right now? I'm loving Highly embellished detailed bodices and stunning laces, we have just completed our latest range of formal/bridal wear and have used lots of textures, unique laces and crystals in our range.
  • How long does it usually take you to construct anything you sell? Depending on what it is but for example it takes roughly an hour to construct a sweetheart novelty dress.
  • Where do you buy your materials? We source all of our fabric's and materials from around the world, local garage sales and sites like Gumtree and eBay.
  • What is the best piece of advice you've been given? Always stay true to yourself and trust your instincts, never try and compete with your competitors let them compete with you.
  • Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to do what you do? Being a self taught designer I have recently written an eBook "Secrets of a Self-Taught Fashion Designer" that can be purchased from my website out lining all of my advice, including my secrets of running a successful business. you can purchase from www.ditd.com.au along with some of our step by step picture tutorials.
  • What do you dislike most, and like most about what you create? I dislike making repetitive things, i need to be creatively stimulated so prefer to make one of a kinds when i can. I like the fact that i get to do what i love every day and make a small impact on the fashion world.
  • What are your goals for Damsel in this Dress? My long term goal is to continue to add to my collections and to create beautiful one of a kinds for all of my wonderful customers.
  • How do you select your models? I generally only work with models that have had experience in modelling before, I like to choose models that i think there look will suit what theme I'm trying to achieve in each photoshoot I do, I mostly do all of the photography myself for the label now, I will loan out my clothing to experienced photographers to.
  • How do you prepare for a fashion shoot or show? For a shoot I create all the garments and accessories for it, I make sure they're all completed and in order, once I have my models, make up and hair team in place I choose a suitable location. For a show all I need to do for most shows is make sure I have all my garments ready.
  • What other experience to you have in the fashion industry? I have had experience in styling and assisting with wardrobe on high end fashion shoots, and experience fashion and conceptual photography.
  • Do you plan to expand your range? I would love to expand further on the label, instead of supplying boutiques we are now only an online store as this allows us to keep our prices at the lowest possible price, I would definitely love to continue to expand on the range though.
  • Can you tell us some interesting facts about Damsel in this Dress? Self taught designer never had a sewing lesson in my life, my husband helps me sew majority of the dresses, Went from rags to riches in 3 years, the label is 50% sustainable made up of recycled and preloved vintage pieces. 
Check out some of the amazing items from DITD! Also keep an eye out for my next blog on DITD, where I'll be doing a 'how to style' with a DITD cute bow crop! 

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