Interview with Holly Dunlap of Hollywould

Holly Dunlap

If you're a fan of West Coast fashion, Hollywould is a featured name in your closet. This line of ultra-feminine shoes, handbags, clothing and accessories always offers a fresh spin on treasured styles.

The chic genius behind the Hollywould name is none other than fashionista extraordinaire, Holly Dunlap, whose love of Hollywood culture has led her shoes and handbags to be some of the most celebrity-coveted items in the couture world. And her latest leap into clothing design is nothing new for the talented Holly, as she's spent time designing for Carolyne Roehm, Christian Lacroix, and Lilly Pulitzer!

LoveToKnow Shoes recently had a chance to uncover the story behind Holly's spectacular shoes.

A Commitment to the Classics

Over the past seven years, your line has exploded onto the fashion scene! But before we delve into your Spring 2007 collection, I was hoping we could gloss over one of Hollywould's staple shoe items: the ballet flat. Hollywould constantly provides ballet flat fans with updated styles. Could you tell our readers a little bit about your love and loyalty regarding this shoe style?

Ballet Flat

Holly: I grew up with a 5"11 mother who lived in ballet flats, and they were always (and still are) her signature shoe. I always thought they were chic and had a rainbow of Papagallo ballets when I was about 10 years old because I was already 5'7, and I always knew this would be something I wanted in my collection. When I launched them in 2001, Sex & the City was all the rage, and everyone was convinced stilettos were the way of the future.

Our customers and editors were really hesitant towards the ballets and some of them said they were "too old lady", but I was convinced they would become a wardrobe stable for the hip, young set. Within weeks of having them in our shop we were selling them by the dozen to trendsetters like Chloe Sevigny, Sophie Dahl, & Helena Christiansen, who couldn't find them from anyone else. Soon after the trend became a craze, and by 2003 we had companies copying our ballet right & left, but the magazine editors and trendsetting girls still knew HOLLYWOULD was the original, and still love our cut over anyone else.

These days we're seeing celebrities running all over town in cigarette jeans and ballet flats, but do you have any particular wardrobe suggestions of your own as to what ballet flats look best with?

Holly: I like ballet flats with almost anything other than a knee-length skirt. They look great with long or tea length skirts and are adorable with minis, but for some reason a knee-length skirt and ballet doesn't work. I also like them with wide-leg pants as well as skinny jeans, so they really are the most versatile shoe around!

Setting Up For Spring

On to the Spring collection! I love that nearly every shoe design can be perfectly paired with an item in your handbag line; this saves your fans a lot of accessory confusion. Whereas some designers would have us believe that a plaid and polka dots can be a fabulous combination, are you a firm believer in coordinated accessories?

Holly:Coordinated accessories send a very ladylike message, and it's very 1950's to have a matching shoes & bag, which I love. I do think there is a place for mixing & matching because you can't always own a shoe for every bag, but when the shoe & bag matches exactly it gives an extra polish. It's funny but I've found that men love the matching shoe & bag because they automatically get how it coordinates, and think it's the sign of a stylish girl. Men don't always get mixing accessories!

Your 2007 Belaire Sling is a hot LTK favorite. Was it inspired by the glitzy hills and mansions of Bel Aire, California?

Belaire Sandal

Holly: Yes, the Belaire has been a big favorite of all of our customers! Bel Aire is probably my favorite enclave in America, and this shoe is perfect for the shopping/lunching lifestyle of the Bel Aire woman!

The best aspect of your designs is the presentation of bold embellishments on adorably kittenish styles. Whether accentuated by prominent bows, flowers, or crystals, these shoes are definitely distinct. So, in your opinion, what do you think makes for a truly memorable shoe?

The Wilshire

Holly: I vintage shop a lot, and when shopping I'm always drawn to the ornate styles that seem to still say something, 30 or 40 years after they were created. Basic is boring, and basics aren't the shoes you would want to pass down to your children, or that your teenage daughters will someday fight over. I always keep this in mind, trying to create things that are utterly original and intrinsically special.

For me, a memorable shoe is one that will be used as a point of reference in 30 years, like "the night I met your father I was wearing these fabulous metallic gold peeptoe slingbacks with a lace cut-out detail, despite the fact that it was snowing and negative 30 degrees". No one would ever say that about a pair of simple black pumps.

The Wilshire Sandals are nothing short of sensational. They're delicate, wild, and girly! What was the inspiration behind this shoe and who do you see wearing them?

Holly: The Wilshire is definitely one of my black tie favorites, and I was inspired by a curtain shop near my flat in Florence, Italy that sells all sorts of handmade curtain tassels. They are actually the ones making the tassels for our production, so they are real Florentine curtain tassels!

The best part about these is that they are 100% silk satin, which makes them very evening & special, and also that the straps are a mixture of 3 shades of pink or blue, so they are much easier to match with dresses because there are so many shades of each color in them.

The Hollywould Girl

Overall, what type of woman do you envision as a Hollywould fan? In short, who are the women who inspire your designs?

Holly: I spend a lot of time in our store and meet our customers there, so I've been lucky enough to get to know the Hollywould Girl fairly well. I have to say that they are all girls I would want to be friends with, girls who are cute, have a sense of humor, have fabulous jobs, and incredibly chic but not in a trendy sort of way.

Hollywould Girls read fashion magazines and take the advice with a grain of salt, using their own fashion instincts and taste as their guide instead of following instructions from a magazine. These kind of strong, fun, beautiful girls always inspire me when I design, and whenever we have Hollywould parties our male guests always come in throngs because they say that Hollywould parties are always packed with fun, smart, high-quality girls who also happen to be hot babes!

Where to Purchase

Can you tell our readers where (other than your retail stores) they can purchase Hollywould shoes and merchandise?

Holly: We sell to all of the best small boutiques in towns across America, as well as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and websites like Shoes.com.

Further Information

Check out Holly's shoes, handbags, and couture items at her official site, Kellwood Company.

Interview with Holly Dunlap of Hollywould