What were you doing before you started House of Ollichon?
I was working in the City selling sponsorship and exhibition space for big conferences. I had done this for eight years and travelled the world; it was a fantastic phase of life but I am far more excited about the new one!
Had you always wanted to design clothes? Was there ever a plan B?
Definitely! As a teenager I’d rip up jeans and turn them into skirts, customising anything I could with a tatty bit of ribbon or old lace from my mum’s button box. I guess plan B was plodding along in a job that I was still very happy in, but I had this overwhelming ‘now or never’ feeling so I embraced it!
What was most difficult about designing the first collection?
It was most definitely opening my mind to consider what an array of women would want, rather than what I liked the most.
How has House of Ollichon evolved since its inception?
I actually started with dress designs plus a few bridal jumpsuits, but quickly realised that the dresses weren’t actually satisfying a gap in the market and this really bothered me. So I researched a little deeper into the jumpsuit idea. I found that there was no ‘middle ground’ between very costly designer pieces and high street options, which just weren’t special enough. The gay community is also a huge demographic for House of Ollichon and once gay marriage was legalised I decided to commit completely to the plan.
Then came the combo range, which I initially designed for bridesmaids to offer a mix and match range. After being a bridesmaid myself seven times, I know it’s very important to feel individual but to still complement each other. However, now this combo range is proving increasingly popular for ancillary occasions such as the cocktail, brunch, registry office do or to change into to dance like crazy! I wore my favourite for my anniversary celebrations last week, and one of my team wants one of the lace combo skirts to team with a leather jacket!
Where did the idea for ‘dress-less’ options first come from?
I was lucky enough to marry my husband Romain twice; we had a very simple registry office ceremony before a big wedding in France, and in typical female style I couldn’t find anything I wanted to wear! I didn’t fancy wearing another dress, didn’t want to spend a fortune and was completely out of inspiration, so this was the start of the House of Ollichon story.
Which piece are you most proud of and what was the inspiration behind it?
It’s the vintage blush jumpsuit called ‘Lockwood’. I wanted to create a jumpsuit that was still as romantic and dreamy as a dress. When you wear this piece you feel like you’re floating and I named it Lockwood after my maiden name, which is the true sign it’s my fave.
Do you have a favourite place in the world?
Ooooh tough one—if I’m allowed a tie it’s between my husband’s home town in France where we got married (a tiny seaside town called Quiberon) and a miniscule island off of the south of Bali called Lembongan, it’s like a forgotten world full of happy people, wave watching, sunshine and peace.
Who will be your typical customer?
This is my favorite aspect of HoO; it can be anyone! The designs were carefully created to (hopefully!) provide something for everyone. It could be the girl who wears a big dress during the day but wants something more comfy for the evening to really let her hair down in, a registry office ceremony for a low key celebration, one option is geared towards the mother of the bride, I’m hoping the gay community will like the idea, plus the combo range is perfect for bridesmaids; we have eight pieces that when mixed and matched provide 16 different outfit options.
Who is your favourite designer?
I love Elie Saab, her dresses are awesome and she’s created a couple of magnificent jumpsuits, but for bridal specifically it’s Inbal Dror.
What are your aspirations for HoO?
Oooooh gosh where to start… I want to see women enjoying the collection; having fun while feeling special and pushing their bridal boundaries! Selfishly, I would love HoO to be your ‘go-to’ for quirky bridal options and a dream would be to be nominated for one of the ‘best new brand’ bridal awards…. That may be a little optimistic at this stage though!
What do you do in your free time?
Well I haven’t had much of a life lately as I have been finishing my city job while launching HoO, so once my feet hit the ground I want to take French lessons again, go dog walking in the countryside and spend more time with my goddaughter.
Will HoO focus solely on bridalwear or might you branch out into casualwear as well?
At the moment I’m proud of the niche I’ve identified so I want to give this 100% and then see what happens next!
What’s your personal style at work and at play?
I love big 70s flares and fun dresses, but my real love is textures; from linen to leather, crochet to fur, I just love anything that adds texture to an outfit.
Would you say your adopted French roots influence your designs?
Not really, but I knew from the outset I wanted to include the beautiful French bridal laces from the infamous dentelle region to truly provide that luxury feel.
Any plans for the future? Will HoO be a household name?
Here’s hoping! The next plan would be to add a couple more playsuit options to the collection and I’ve already had a request to create an ‘elite’ combo option, so we’ll be back in France again soon picking some more stunning lace.