Today we meet Damaris, the founder and designer of her namesake brand, Damaris Bailey. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Damaris about when her interest in fashion first began and about some of her biggest style influences which include my fashion icon, Audrey Hepburn.
I loved hearing how about what inspired her most recent collection, the aesthetic that embodies the Damaris Bailey brand (think feminine florals and romantic silhouettes) and how when designing a new collection she pictures a character out of a movie; what they would wear, where they would be, and what functions they would attend in each of the dresses she creates.
When did your interest in fashion first begin?
It started when I was in junior high. The summer going into high school. My best friend and I used to go vintage shopping all the time. That was when the grunge look was in. We would go to thrift store (before vintage was popular) and we would get grandma blouses and we would tie them and wear corduroys and we would sometimes get a Girl Scout outfit and I would use the dress like a midi 70’s outfit and we would also alter the stuff and that’s when I knew okay, I can make this my own. That’s when it began.
Who are some of the women who you consider to be your biggest style influences?
I love Athena Calderone (EyeSwoon) she has such beautiful style. I love the outfits she puts together. I mostly look at women who have a whole lifestyle.
I also love old movie stars. Audrey Hepburn. She’s one of my favorites. I just love her, she’s an all time style classic. So for the past it would be Audrey and for the present, Athena.
Movies are also my biggest source of inspiration. When I watch movies like The Talented Mr. Ripley I feel inspired.
When did you first come up with the idea for your namesake brand, Damaris Bailey?
It’s funny because I originally wanted to be Flora, but I couldn’t have that name. Flora is all about flowers and anything green, but it was already taken. So I decided to just use my name Damaris Bailey. I thought it was cliche at first because I was really stuck on Flora… but I’m happy I did.
How should you describe the signature aesthetic of Damaris Bailey?
Feminine, romantic, whimsical.
What was it like when you first saw others wearing your dresses?
It was a proud moment. I was happy.
I love the feminine silhouette of your dresses and the beautiful floral fabrics. Where do you source your fabrics?
When you’re a small designer it’s not easy to source your fabric. I either design the print (which is what I’m doing for this upcoming season) but right now I use dead stock. There is a place in LA (Rag Finders) that sells dead stock (when designers who have too much fabric left over, that’s where they send it.) I also just use anywhere that will sell smaller minimums. It’s more of an investment to print your fabrics, but I’m at a point where I can do that now.
Tell me about the inspiration behind the Primavera collection.
That collection was inspired by Italy, by Capri actually. It was designed around the idea of going on vacation to Capri and what would she wear if she was there. I always design around this fantasy figure of a woman. If she was on a movie set, what would she be wearing. Movies are my biggest inspiration. Where would she go to dinner? What sites would she visit? She would have to casual pieces and elevated pieces. Every season I like to see where she would be holidaying at.
What is your favorite dress from the current collection?
The floral Lucero dress.
How far in advance do you create the designs for a new season and what do you look forward to the most when debuting a new collection?
So I usually start 4 months ahead of time and what I look forward to the most is the reception. What people are going to say about it? I like to launch the collection and see what piece they gravitate towards. Thats the scariest and best part of debuting a new collection.
Photographer Sara Weir shoots the beautiful photos for your website. What do you enjoy the most about working with Sara, and where are some of the beautiful locations you’ve featured in the photos?
Sara is a good friend. She was a friend first before she was my photographer. She is super creative (she’s just good, she’s just talented). I don’t have to do much. I usually pick the spot, tell her the vibe I want and she just creates it. She uses film and that makes it prettier and softer and more romantic. She makes it easy and I don’t have to do much thinking when we’re shooting.
How do you balance between being a mom to three beautiful girls (Rose, Luciana, and Valentina) and running your brand?
It’s hard. I always put my kids first. No matter what my kids are always going to win. If it’s a deadline or my kids, my kids are going to win. They have more leverage, that’s why I sell direct to consumer. I can determine how many pieces that I do, how many collections. So, I balance it by always choosing my family first.
What are your words of advice for those who dream of starting their own clothing brands?
Just do it. If you have an idea and a dream, just start doing it. Don’t do too much research just start with actions. Surround yourself with people who are building businesses and that will inspire and motivate you. Surround yourself with entrepreneurs. They will be your biggest cheerleader.
Shop Damaris Bailey here and follow along via Instagram @damarisbaileyshop
All photos via Damaris Bailey.