This weekend I got the opportunity to interview my good friend Kelsey, designer, production team, &general mastermind behind American lolita brand I Do Declare (also, she is officially custom-making my party dress for my birthday extravaganza - if that doesn't prove my trust in her skills what does?!)
Lumpy: Tell me a little about yourself. What's your name? Where are your from? What styles of lolita do you prefer to wear?
Kelsey: My name is Kelsey and i grew up in Florida... perhaps no the best state for lolita because of the climate. My favorite style is classic lolita... though for this coming spring I'm starting to want classic lolita cuts and styles in sweet colors!
Lumpy: How did you get into fashion design, &what made you want to start designing lolita clothing?
Kelsey: Well, I started sewing costumes for myself and friends in my freshman year of highschool and discovered that I had a talent for it! Ever since then I've been designing and sewing. I started making lolita clothes for a few reasons but the most prominent was that I couldn't afford to buy any! haha and now I still love to make lolita clothes because it's hard to find a flattering fit for westerners in japanese lolita clothing... and I think that above all else your clothes should flatter you!
Lumpy: What inspired the name and the initial behind your brand?
Kelsey: My roomate actually came up with the name I Do Declare. I wanted something that evoked royalty without being pretty pretty princess about it. And I think that applies to the clothes also. I prefer simple lines and flattering cuts in my designs but in higher quality fabric.
Lumpy: What are some themes that you like to draw upon in your designs? Are there any recurring motifs that crop up in your lines?
Kelsey: Like I said, I like simple lines in my clothing but I also adore the Rococo period. I like to incorperate some of that wonderful 18th century style. Also I like to incorporate some prints... Recently I've been obsessed with heraldic imagery so I've been incorporating that into my clothing with things like the Heraldry print and the Antique Unicorn print! I'm working on something with a Lion next. I've used a few prints in the past like the Welcome to Wonderland print and the Dinosaur Mode Girl. . . both of them are a little more humorous than what I'm working on now but that doesn't mean I'm abandoning that quirkiness.
Lumpy: If you could use three words to I Do Declare, what would they be?
Kelsey: Haha This kind of question is always so hard! Classical, quirky and historically inspired. Although I suppose the last one is two words...
Lumpy: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Kelsey: I have to say first and foremost from history. I'm a giant nerd for the 18th century! Also my friends... I get a lot of great feedback from them.
Lumpy: What are you working on right now?
Kelsey: Right now I'm working on a line of showpieces for the upcoming Dances of Vice in March. The theme for the event is Spring in Wonderland so I'm doing rococo interpretations of some of the characters. I'm really excited about the whole thing.
Lumpy: What can you tell me about your current line?
Kelsey: The line for winter is the Antique Unicorn line. It's a print in silver or gold available on skirts, bags and shirts. Every item is hand printed so each one is a little different!
Lumpy: I know you've been participating in some alternative fashion shows in and around New York City. Tell me about that – how did you get involved? What's it like planning your own fashion show?
Kelsey: For the past year I've been doing shows at conventions along the east coast, I'd like to think I got started doing shows because my reputation as a designer got out though really it seems to have been a series of fortunate accidents! Planning a show is really a lot of fun! I like to recruit all my models first then dress them in something that I think will flatter then specifically. I think the audience will enjoy it more if they can tell the models like the clothes they are wearing!
Lumpy: I've heard that your going to be participating in a Dances of Vice Etsy store. What are you going to be doing with them?
Kelsey: I am! I was really flattered to be asked to participate. I've done a custom print for them and right now it's available on tote bags. I think I may do a few custom outfits for them as well.
Lumpy: What are your future plans for expansion?
Kelsey: I'm hoping to get some items started in production. As it is right now I make ever item by hand. . and I'd like to have some items produced like my favorite skirt pattern (pleated at the waist with pockets). Then I'll be able to add whatever print I like by hand. I'm hoping to be able to get that started by the end of this year.
Thank you so much for talking to me, Kelsey, and best of luck on your plans for the future!
For more from Kelsey: