Coco takes over

Coco takes over
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As part of her major final uni project, Fashion student Coco had embarked on creating independent magazine INFLUENCE based on influential people and trends within the fashion industry and we were honored to be approached as a featured influential designer for the edit.

"....I'm making a magazine for my final major project. The magazine is about influential people and trends in the fashion industry. Think you are a great influential designer x"
Check out our interview with Coco below
How did you first know you wanted to be in the fashion industry?
I didn't actually know, I wanted to be in the fashion industry- growing up, working in the fashion industry was not something that seemed attainable to an inner city kid in Birmingham. There was no internet or social media - a vital tool for how small businesses operate or how we live in general.
My natural creativity eventually led me to the fashion industry with an initial pit stop at the entertainment and performing arts industry. From the age of 11 to about 17, I was heavily involved in performing arts, I did bits on children's programmes, a fair amount of musical theatre and studied performing arts and AS level dance at college. I retrained in dressmaking and fashion; following a spell of casually styling my peers and getting local seamstresses to create my designs, which they would later sell on, much to my dismay at the time. But, looking back, I guess it was through seeing others making money from my designs that helped me begin to believe, in some degree in my ability.
 Finale walk, for Paulinah with her line Dolls of Decadence
What is the story behind your brand and being based in Birmingham?

Dolls of Decadence is about affordable extravagance -its powerful, uncompromisingly sexy, yet embodies a chic-ness with its use of classic silhouettes. We live in a time now of too much of every thing; to an extent morality has waned- dissoluteness is rampant.

In the early stages of my creations, I would spend countless hours hand applying 100s of jewels, rivets and rhinestone to individual garments, I constructed skirts that required 4 metres, hoods were extra large, almost crotch high dress slits and the sleeves always seemed better to me when they were bigger....I guess, I still do these things, to be fair and it is can be deemed as kind of excessive; giving them an over indulgent feel.

So, when, I rebranded in 2016, I kept the word 'Dolls' which I had previously used and added 'decadence' which means: "moral or cultural decline as characterized by excessive indulgence in pleasure or luxury"-  to reflect on the times we live in and also because the tone I had set for the brand. When you buy Dolls of Decadence, its like a little bit of self indulgence.

Dolls of Decadence in motion. Image by Stephen Murphy
Keeping the line in Birmingham was a no brainer for me, right from the jump- my son was very young at the time and it would have been incredibly selfish of me to up sticks and swan off too London. London is also mad expensive- I did my internship there- I would have been probably been forced to live on bread and water, whilst living in a shoe box in an attempt to launch the line.
As well, a part of me, wanted to 'rep my endz' so to speak and show that it is not just London where fashion survives. Of course, the internet made all of this easy and possible, because it was actually difficult in the beginning for people from Birmingham to latch onto something different, that crossed over the levels of conventional commerce. The local fashion community was not as saturated as it is now, so although people talked about wanting to wear something different and unique, the line was dubbed too sexy and too out there for Birmingham- Leeds, Manchester and the States, however, lapped it up. Making it possible for me to keep going.
But, I am glad, I kept the line in Birmingham - the fashion scene in Birmingham is getting bigger by the minute and it is nice to be a part of it.
In her zone, Paulinah working on a bespoke creation at her studio
What is your greatest achievement with the brand?
I would like to say taking my line over to Miami for the Miami Metropolitan fashion week was the greatest achievement, I've had with the brand- it was certainly the most stressful and loneliest venture I embarked on fashion wise. But, if I was to really think, I think actually surviving the last 8 years as small fashion business and sustaining the brand through the ever changing pace of the fashion world; from the take over of fast fashion- how it has massively impacted the not only the whole fashion industry, but also to the economy- to the influx of independent designers/brands.
Paulinah chatting with Miami TV following herbrands appearence Miami Metropolitan International fashion wk
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My main source of inspiration usually starts when I see a fabric that grabs my attention- whether it is the colour, texture or pattern of it that I am drawn to. It doesn't always mean, its the easiest source of inspiration as I am drawn to lots of different fabric all the time and can't always think or sew fast enough to utilise. It is not instantaneous that I think of a design for the fabric, no matter how much I like it.
But, I am a inspired by a lot of other things too- architecture, events, scenery - even conversations. For me inspiration isn't just about the actual design, it is also bout the direction, the emotion, the mood or tone of a collection. 
A behind the scenes look at Paulinah on set shooting some of her looks for the line
What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career in the fashion industry?
Abort mission!
 Ha- OK- I'm joking.
 I think, my best advice for any one trying to pursue a career in the fashion industry; firstly take your time. A lot of students leave uni and immediately embark on setting up a business and not all are equipped mentally, financially or emotionally for what it takes to run a business, Fundamentally its a business you are running- the fashion and creative aspect, unfortunately is a small fraction of that business. And once, you start on this fashion treadmill; its hard to slow it down....or get off.
Secondly, grasp every opportunity you get, when you get it, because there is a mass of students under and post graduated who are willing to take the opportunities which you may feel you are too big for. It doesn't mean, get involved in projects that are not going to be worth your time and money, but make sure you utilise the ones that will connect or expose you to the right people or allow you to work with them.
Thirdly, remember, you are your brand- people will buy from you when they buy into you. Get in front of your brand and sell your brand through yourself and your personality.
Finally, be sustainable!
What is your future vision for the development of the brand?
For the future, my focus is not really so much on the development of the brand, as in the further growth of Dolls of Decadence as a fashion line, but more about focusing on the development and progress of my fashion journey as a whole; really combining and expanding on my other creative/fashion skills with a focus on presenting and directing a multi faceted fashion agency, covering multiple aspects of the fashion industry.
Who is Coco?
My name is Chloe aka Coco- I'm a creative with a curious mind. Originally from Torquay, in the south west of England. But, for the last 3 years or so whilst studying I've been living in Birmingham.
I've just completed a textile design degree at Birmingham city university, where I specialized in retail management. I'm aspiring to have a career within the fashion industry; I am keen to explore the marketing and editorial side of the industry.
I first met Paulinah when I helped out with the launch of the 'FASHION FOR A CAUSE' fashion show to launch their community initiative- The Do-Nation UK project- a collaboration between Dolls of Decadence and Lotus event management which uses Fashion as a medium to effect change.

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