Guest Post: Anna Paola – Behind the Brand
From graduating with a degree in Psychology, to studying at theIstituto Marangoni, an Italian institute who’s alumni ranges from the likes of Franco Moschino to Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Anna Paola has truly gone above and beyond anyone’s prior expectation. With a coveted Nomination for ‘New Designer of the Year’ at this years UK Lingerie Awards after a mere year of trading and gaining some invaluable experience with legendary fashion designer Hussein Chalayan, this incredible designer is taking the fashion industry by storm. After seeing her refreshingly creative designs for ourselves and realizing the ever-growing popularity of her swimwear brand Paolita, BSF couldn’t resist getting to get to know a little more about the woman behind the brand.
How much would you say your cultural background influences and inspires your designs?
Born to a Greek father and a Mexican/American mother, I have always had an almost innate appreciation of the different cultures, influences and styles that define and colour my life.
Amongst my many sources of inspiration, I fondly recall my journeys around the world with my family, where we enjoyed wonderful sights of diverse landscapes, cultures and people. At the same time, however, I did not have to travel to the other side of the world to fuel my creativity. Growing up in a multicultural household where art and creativity were continuously emphasized provided me with the elements that continue to serve as inspirations for my work.
With all the potential areas of design, what inspired you to start up a swimwear brand?
I wanted to use my passion and design experience to focus on an area that is totally about the female form. Nothing encompasses this more than swimwear and as such, I have spent a lot of time discussing and understanding what makes women feel comfortable and sexy at the beach. I fully understand that this is when a woman is the most exposed. I have designed the swimwear in line with shapes that complement the figure so that each woman can feel confident and beautiful. Another important aspect of the Paolita collection is that we sell the tops and bottoms separately, as consistency in the sizes of the upper and lower body is usually reserved for a few lucky women!
Was the brand name an obvious choice? Did you go through any other names?
I wanted the brand to be a part of me, to show my passion and dedication to it. Paolita is what my family and close friends call me. They added the ‘ita’ at the end as a term of endearment. Amusingly, this is both a Greek and a Mexican custom. It just seemed like the perfect choice.
You graduated with a degree in Psychology, that’s a pretty huge jump to make to fashion. What inspired this decision?
I think it was a jump that I was always going to take at some point in my life. From a very young age, clothing fascinated and absorbed me. So, after earning a degree in psychology, I chose to study fashion design at the Istituto Marangoni, where my studies were divided between London and Milan.
Do you ever feel that your Psychology degree plays a part in your career as a designer?
In my eyes, the world is vibrant and animated by ‘characters’ and ‘fantasy’, people and their life. There is a beautiful quality there that I try to capture and honour in my work. Clothing is the costume with which we choose to act-out our part, to define our character. I like the idea of enabling or embellishing someone’s ‘fantasy’ and so my passion lies in dressing the ‘character’.
How would you describe your experience working with the late Alexander McQueen?
An honour. No one will ever be able to fill the void that Alexander McQueen has left behind and I will always cherish the time I spent at the centre of his creative genius.
What has been the most pivotal moment of your career so far and why?
Reaching the finals of the inaugural UK Lingerie Awards 2011 which take place this September. It is every designer’s dream to be recognised for their work, but to be acknowledged in our first year of trading is beyond my wildest dreams. I wanted to create something that set itself apart from the rest, making women feel proud of how they look and having the confidence to put themselves out there. Getting to the finals of the UK Lingerie Awards means that we are doing something right and all I can hope is that from this, more and more women realise how beautiful they can be.
To see more of Anna’s beautiful collection visit her website, http://www.paolita.co.uk/collections/beachwear/ and follow her on twitter @PaolitaBeach