Holly Fowler is an English fashion designer who specialises in unique, hand-painted womenswear. Holly designs for the same muse each season – a modern-day princess named Pamela, born in the imagination of Holly’s younger self whilst growing up in a small town at the heart of ‘The Garden of England’, traditionally known as Kent. Pamela, who wears gold and diamonds every day, is based on Holly’s grandmother as a young woman, and she has new adventures each season in the illustrated books that Holly creates to accompany her collections.
Frustrated by the limitations of printing techniques, she began painting directly onto gowns. Diamond-encrusted snakes wrap around dresses; necklaces and chains fall amongst rose-covered sashes and ruby flowers, and through each composition the idea of a wearable artwork and an enveloping fantasy is presented.
Apart from designing and painting for her own label, Holly has worked for renowned fashion houses including John Galliano, Chloe, Louis Vuitton, Zac Posen and Diane von Furstenberg.
Have you always wanted to be a fashion designer?
I have always loved fashion and fabrics, but when I was younger there was no clear path that I wanted to move in. I loved art in all forms: painting, drawing and making sculptures. As I grew up and worked more with fabrics and creating textiles, it lead into applying them to clothes and creating fashion – it’s the most fun to make a beautiful painting or drawing or surface, and then to wear it!
Describe the materials that you used in this collection.
There are some leather dresses, silk grosgrain, silk duchess satin, morocains and crepes. All very rich, luxurious fabrics that are perfect for making a special dress.
“Every season I write a storybook depicting my muse, Princess Pamela, going on an adventure and wearing the new season dresses.”
Style-wise, who inspires you?
Princess Pamela is named after and based on my grandmother. She always looks wonderful and is a constant inspiration, even if she’s going to the supermarket or the post office her handbag matches her shoes and she never forgets her lipstick and earrings!
What does vintage mean you?
I feel that the meaning of vintage has become quite varied, but to me it means something from the past that is a treasure and has quality because of its history.
What do you do in your free time?
In my free time I love to see my friends and family and to be outdoors, especially in the English countryside! I really love making pancakes in the morning and going dancing in the evenings.
Top places to visit in London?
The Victoria & Albert museum is an incredible place. There are endless rooms of treasure and it is definitely worth a visit. The Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street is amazing because the inside is decorated with Winston Churchill memorabilia and has a wonderful traditional English pub feel, but then when you walk through to the back there’s a yummy Thai restaurant! Browns on South Molton Street because it has a wonderful mixture of brand new designers and established brands (and because my clothes and shoes are stocked there!)
Any future plans as a fashion designer?
For the future, I just hope to be able to keep designing and making clothes. I feel so lucky to be able to do this as a job and I’m really excited about the future. I want to start mixing my hand-painted designs with screen printing and digital printing and keep developing my style.
Photograph of Holly by Zoe Maxwell
Illustrations by Holly Fowler