On reading the Dancing Dolls UK bio and viewing its creations, it’s easy to understand the concept of the brand. A fashion brand for the sassy- its tag line identifies it as” Urban, sexy chic”- with its signature embellished, hooded ensembles, dashes of chic-ness and sexy dresses in all styles, we can see the running theme.
British Fashion designer Paulinah Eboh-Sampson, the creative director of the UK fashion brand- the 2 eldest of 5, mother of 1- has been carving her name in the Fashion scene through her fashion line, Dancing Dolls UK since 2010. Now voted among the top 3 Independent designers at this year’s Midlands Fashion Award; the longest running Midlands based fashion event, that recognizes, supports and awards UK based artists from the Midlands. We caught up with her to talk about the pressures within the Fashion Industry, getting Industry recognition for the line and what’s next on her fashion journey.
What does it mean for you to have been selected amongst the top 3 Midlands Independent designers 2015?
In the UK, outside of the capital- London there are few ‘good’ platforms for designers to showcase their work. The Midlands Fashion Awards is based in my home town, so it definitely feels special to be recognized there. I have been working tirelessly on directing and coordinating the brand, admittedly sometimes even questioning and second guessing my work. Although, I have grown more confident in my creations and the asethic of the brand, to hear a panel of Industry judges, feel that work is something that needs accolade is a big deal for me as a designer. I may have not won the title of Midlands Independent designer for 2015, but close is good for now and to do so with my very own VIPs (my family and friends) there to witness it, makes me even more proud!
What is the Midland s Fashion Awards about?
The Midlands fashion awards is an annual event on the Midlands Fashion Calendar; which was created in Birmingham- UK. It’s currently in its 7th year and presents a platform for emerging and Independent fashions to showcase their work; where the best innovative and cutting edge designers in the Midlands are selected to showcase their talent to hundreds of visitors. It’s one of the 1st fashion events, that I got involved in, that really cared about giving the designers a good platform/opportunities to share their work to their peers, Industry professionals and potential customers. As well, as rewarding their efforts, instead of many so called ‘fashion events’ that seemed more intent on making as much money as possible, from small upcoming brands.
Your background is primarily in performing arts and dance. Is this the main reason behind the direction of the line and how do you feel, it is helping you now to run your business?
It wasn’t exactly the main reason behind the direction of line; as Dancing Dolls UK was never supposed to transition into a fashion brand. But, once the line started to take that fashion shape, it made sense to make the two work together in some way. Though, this wasn’t based on my past experience in the dance field. I just think having a brand name such as Dancing Dolls UK wouldn’t make sense, if there was no element or influence of dance anywhere through the line. Where, my performing arts background comes massively into play is usually in the narrative of a collection, the art direction/concept for a promo video/ad campaign and on set on a shoot- I am massively hands on; physically getting into poses to show the models what I am looking for. Therefore, I’m always amazed when I work with models who can pose, but have not fluidity in movement for transitional poses. Dancers have the ability to push their bodies beyond the boundaries of comfort. I tend to have this expectation that all models should be the same.
Can you describe the inspiration for your winning collection; what/whom were your muses?
EMINENCE is my 10th ready to wear collection for my line; It represents the explosive, evolution and celebration of the line for which I took inspirations from the behaviour of a volcano. It takes a small side step, from what you can usually expect from the brand; presenting its first collection with a high fashion attitude. Structured shapes, textured fabrics, bold prints, voluminous silhouettes and runway ready pieces, all lone its self to creating, what I think is possibly the most unique collection for the line. Fabrications in greys, oranges, pinks, purple compliment and mould the collection around its volcanic inspiration.
Looking through, all your previous collections we notice a difference in the make up of your collection ‘EMINENCE’. Was this a conscious decision, and if so why?
Yes- everything, about this collection was completely orchestrated. I knew I wanted to do something a little more extravagant with my A/W15 collection- it was to be my 10th ready-to-wear collection and also celebrated 5 years in this industry! Which in itself, I guess was a little achievement. I also knew I wanted to go a little high fashion with it, as well as ensuring it would work well editorially and on the runway. All of the emotions, the things I wanted to do/achieve with the collection and along with the pressure of just running a fashion business were immensely frustrating. Once it clicked on how to describe these emotions- the rumble of a volcano prior to eruption- it was easier to visual how to portray these feelings; with EMINENCE being the result of the erupted volcano.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced to date and how do you/have you overcome them?
Raising capital, as a small business is always the biggest ongoing struggle, especially, as I am trying to grow the line organically without overwhelming myself with debt. It is a continuous struggle that, I have learnt to manage. The other thing, I struggle with is the whole social media, aspect. I think I have underestimated the power in this beast! Every entrepreneur knows it’s great for showcasing their work. However, what I am learning to get to grips with is how much you have to appeal to the voyeurism in people; who want to know more than just your work, but also a lot about the person behind the work on show.
What does the future for Dancing Dolls UK hold?
I’m hoping to work on a few more capsule creations and smaller conceptual projects, instead of larger scale full collections; allowing me to take my time with my next collection. Which, I am hoping to launch under the re-visited brand name for the line.