Dolly Pearl: Texas soul with New York style
Vi Hoang didn't take the normal path to become a fashion designer. Raised in Houston, Texas, the southern gal didn't feel creativity flowed in her hometown. An art major at the University of Houston, with a background in architecture, Hoang worked in interior design, and later in graphic design until she stumbled upon her true talent. “I was just playing around with fabric in the middle of the night and I made a top,” said Hoang. “My fiancée was like ‘Wow, that looks really professional. You should start your own line'. That’s kind of what kicked Dolly Pearl into business.” From that point on, Hoang swung into action. She moved to New York, her dream destination, and attended the Fashion Institute of Technology for one semester, where she got all the bearings she needed to get the business going. However, there was one more thing on the agenda: a name.
“I wanted to pick a person that inspired me,” said Hoang. “My name is difficult for people to pronounce. They’re like ‘Is it Vee, is it Vi?’ And my last name… forget about it”, she joked. The 28-year-old, with an impeccably feminine and mature approach to dressmaking, had only one lady in mind. “You’re going to think this is crazy, but I love Dolly Parton.” Hoang wanted to find a way to incorporate her southern roots and thought the name “Dolly” gave her brand some old-fashioned charm. “She’s such a positive, genuine person,” she said. “She inspires me. I’ve always loved the name Dolly.”
A glance at Dolly Pearl's lookbook and flowy, silky dresses catch the eye. Ruffles are a key component, incorporated into almost every piece, and femininity is never lost, even in the simplest designs. One wonders if Hoang herself is walking around her studio all day, a Grecian goddess in muted pink silk. However, Hoang offers an interesting answer. “It’s not actually my style.”
Hoang loves bold colors and lots of prints… let's just simplicity isn't a word she uses to describe herself. She admits when she started the line, it incorporated her own aesthetic, but as time went on, she realized her customers wanted something else. “I realized they wanted more solids and more neutral tones,” she said. “They liked having something that would last and could mix with other things.” Not one for feminine and frills, where did she get the ruffles? Hoang contends that the gathered fabric was an easy choice. “Ever since the Victorian age”, Hoang said, “women have associated ruffles with being very feminine.” Plus, it doesn't hurt to have some creative inspiration.
The Texas native starting reading Vogue at the age of nine and believes that, although Dolly Pearl is not her style, it is where she wants to be. “It’s always been a dream of mine to dress that way,” she said. It's an easy task to come up with names that served to guide her. “Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera are some of my favorites,” Hoang said. However, there's one favorite that seems to stand out. Stella McCartney did a collection a couple years ago, when Hoang was first starting out, and the collection had one of her key components: ruffles. “It was my favorite collection that I’ve ever seen in runway…period,” she said. “That was a huge inspiration to me.”
Now the jack-of-all trades (she shoots the lookbook, creates the web site and designs the line!) is about to use her creative juices for one big day. Well, actually THE big day. “I’m getting married at the end of the year,” she said. “I have to create everything… from the invitations to the bridesmaid dresses AND my wedding gown.”
Once the wedding madness dies down, Hoang will go full-speed-ahead with her brand. She expects to debut new designs in the next months and make her way into department stores. However, you won't see her on the runway anytime soon. A part of her would like to stay small, so she can maintain the strong connection she has with her clients. “Runway… I think it’s too cutthroat,” said Hoang. “The fashion industry is exactly like Heidi Klum says, ‘One day you’re in and the next day, you’re out.’ I’m more focused on gaining clients and having a personal relationship with customers.”
Hoang, who is a big fan of jewelry, would also like to expand Dolly Pearl into accessories sometime in 2011.
To keep updated on all that's going on in the Dolly Pearl world, check out her web site at DollyPearl.com and her Twitter @DollyPearlWorld. For a sneak peek at Dolly Pearl's newest designs, check out our gallery, which features her most recent creations. Her blog, Dolly Pearl World, keeps her fans updated on her designs and inspiration.