If you have even a passing interest in vintage fashion, you will be aware of Vivien of Holloway. At the forefront of mid-century reproduction clothing, Vivien Wilson (yes, she is a real person) has been blazing a nostalgic-yet-fashion forward trail with her iconic brand for over thirty years. We caught up with Vivien herself to find out how it all started, where it is going and, of course, get some retro eyewear style tips…
Tell our readers about yourself
I am the creator of the Vivien of Holloway vintage reproduction brand. In a throwaway world, we like to think of ourselves as making the vintage of the future - fabulous vintage-inspired garments that will stand the test of time.
We hold the title of Best Vintage Reproduction brand five years running at the London Vintage Awards and we have been nominated for a parliamentary award for positive body image. Our new Pink Label is made from 100% Organic Cotton. We always strive to provide high-quality sustainable garments.
How did you start designing?
I started sewing when I was very young; my mother helped me learn on my grandmother’s sewing machine. By the time I was 10, I was making my own clothes and, by the age of 15, I was selling them.
How did you establish your brand? Once the girls discovered I made my own clothes, it wasn't hard to get customers. There is no better model than yourself.
What outfit that you have designed are you most proud of? Although I no longer make custom designs, I made an exception for Paloma Faith. I have known Paloma for a long time, and she has worn a lot of my clothes, so I couldn't resist making her the ultimate ball gown. She wore it to the South Bank Tower Penthouse launch event and was crowned Best Dressed in the press.
What is your favourite vintage style or era? It is pretty hard to choose a specific era that I like the most. I like clothes that are sexy but, in a chic, glamorous way. I believe garments should suggest, but not show, too much. So mostly I love clothes that drape beautifully. I am quite a busy person, so I like things that are practical too.
What is your favourite vintage piece? I make all my clothes, so, when it comes to my favourite vintage, it comes to jewellery, handbags, and hats. I would say my favourite vintage piece is an art deco diamond ring I treated myself to when the business started to take off. I wear it every day as I think beautiful things should be worn. As they say, life is a party, so dress for it.
What is your favourite glasses style/shape? I bought a pair of Retropeepers' Frida glasses a couple of years ago. I love vintage-style frames, but I like them to be unusual. Life is too short for boring accessories.
Do you have any vintage eyewear styling advice?
I do believe that your eyewear should enhance your face. Quite often people are unhappy at having to wear glasses and, as such, try and buy glasses you can’t see. I think you should have fun with your frames and be bold. After all, we all have fun with sunglasses - why not with your normal glasses? Let’s all make a spectacle of ourselves!
Tell our readers what they can expect by following you?
If you would like to follow my Instagram business page, https://www.instagram.com/vivienofholloway/, you will find our latest offers and giveaways. We use a lot of customer photos on our social accounts, so you can see our designs on real people.
I also have a personal Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/vivienhollowaylife/ where you can see what I get up to day-to-day, but also flashbacks to how I got started and my journey to get where I am today.
If you join our Facebook group 'I have a Vivien of Holloway dress and I love to wear it' https://www.facebook.com/vivienofhollowaygroup (I know it is a mouthful but I thought it was cute), you can buy and sell our clothes in the group and get early notification of sales and discounts, as well as lots of girly chit chat.
What are your plans for 2022?
In 2022, we will be releasing more of our bespoke prints, bringing back more of your favourite designs, and releasing some new ones. Although we are already pretty good, we plan to find ways to be even more sustainable.
Where can our readers find out more about you?
If you would like to know more, just pop over to our website www.vivienofholloway.com or, if you are visiting London, why not pop along to our shop at 294 Holloway Road where you will also find a new selection of fabulous Retropeepers cateye sunglasses on sale!