Notes from the interview with Donna Taylor - @SulkydollStyling
Live Instagram session with Donna @SulkydollStyling at 5pm on 4th May 2022. Click here to join.
To give you a flavour what’s going to be discussed, have fun reading the interview notes.
Donna: So, tell me what or who inspires you?
Silva: So, so much. Where do I start. Women, normal women from my everyday life, my women Quincy, Talitha, Dulwich boutique owner Dani to name just a few. Paintings, art books (my husband is an artist and the house is full of art books so I often just help myself). We tend to go to art galleries quite a lot (nice way to kill half an hour with kids). The house is covered in nudes and I love paintings of the female form, hence the inspiration for the curves. It’s all about bums 😊
Donna: What’s is a name? Why Under Her Eyes?
Silva: We were painting my daughter’s bedroom back in January 2021, during yet another lockdown. My husband was going through some mental health difficulties and was coming up with hilarious impulsive things. I love bags and wanted to start my own designer handbags label, so he just looked at me and said “bags under her eyes. That’s your brand name Under Her Eyes.” We laughed for about 10 minutes and then I thought yes, why not.
Donna: Your pieces are incredible - who would you most like to see wearing one, your ultimate muse?
Silva: A random woman I don’t know, walking down a road wearing my bag… And Rooney Mara.
Donna: Which is your favourite piece in your collection?
Silva: Well for now I've only got two and you’ve got my favourite piece. Elektra in nude. I love the fact that she is so small, but curvy so you can fit a lot of staff in. And this shade of nude just goes with everything.
Donna: I love that your pieces have retro feel to them, is this a conscious choice?
Silva: You know what, no. However, being surrounded by paintings of renaissance nudes and my personal style being so full of vintage and second hand from every trend and era, I suppose it’s no coincidence I ended up with a retro style. I did want to create something that would stand the test of time, though. I call it the forever bag. It looks cool now but it would have looked cool 20 years ago and, hopefully, will look cool 20 years from now.
Donna: You are a huge advocate for slow fashion, as a Stylist I am acutely aware of the impact of fast fashion on the planet, do you, like me, feel a responsibility to promote slow fashion choices?
Silva: Brace yourself, this is a long one. I worked in fast fashion for nearly 20 years and having witnessed the effect the fashion industry was having on the world and the environment, I wanted to stop, reassess and do better. Fast fashion is not sustainable and never will be. There is nothing sustainable about making so much stuff that people will wear just once and then chuck away. This time more is not better. My passion fizzled and boredom crept in. I needed to get out. The pandemic gave me the final kick in the bum and I got dumped by my last employer. The best dumping I’ve ever had. So after nearly two decades working for big fashion monsters, I started Under Her Eyes. My sustainability journey is just starting and there is so much learning, investigation, testing and research to be done. Through my various connections I became part of Common Objective and Fashion Revolution’s project group called ‘Small but Perfect”, connecting and working with like minded people and brands. Our mission is to create a fashion industry that is kind to our environment, to our workers and to our consumers. It’s not just about creating fashion that lasts forever. It is about quality but it is also about the products looking bloody good and, when you’ve had enough of them, them being circular so there is no waste. What you take from the environment you give back! So I’m starting small but aiming big. Slowing the ‘f’ out of fashion. My mission is to make fashion for women who don't want to feel bad about looking good!!!
Donna: Muted colours dominate your work, again this feels like a nod to sustainable fashion, do you hope to add more colours to your collection?
Silva: I started safe with only 3 colours, but surprisingly black has not received the most interest. My personal style is colour-rich so you guessed right, there is colour coming. My ‘Small but Perfect’ project is developing a grape based leather-like fabric which is 100% plastic free. So my lovely bags can be plastic free and animal friendly. This would be THE first leather-like fabric that is plant based but plastic free. This is major, epic, but it will take years to develop. So now I’m exploring working with other alternative leather manufacturers and investigating whether or not their materials might work on my accessories, while I’m developing my own materials. The colour palettes for their alternative leathers are a little limited but I’m steering towards brights. So watch this space!
Donna: Do you feel post pandemic that people are ready to embrace the glam but invest in slow fashion?
Silva: There is so much glam out there. Every time I open a magazine or go on Instagram, ladies are getting dressed up. I’ve never been good at relaxed, casual style, even casual for me has some glam in it, so this is amazing for me to see. Talking to my students I get the feeling the young generation is sick of fast fashion too, but then again I’m only taking to fashion students who are well aware of the fashion industry’s terrible sustainability credentials. We are only at the beginning of slowing fashion down. It’s not just about brands doing better, making less and making it better; but also educating our customers - teaching the youth, the customers of tomorrow, that the way fashion is consumed now is not sustainable. There is a new way, a kind way, a slow way, full of amazing products created beautifully and sustainably. Women will always want to look good and buy new stuff so it’s our responsibility, as brands, to improve the ways in which they can do this. Our industry needs to be more sustainable, circular and just bloody kinder.
Donna: What does a day in life of Silva look like?
Silva: Mental! Ha ha ha. But seriously, everyday is different, with the only routine being dropping /picking the kids up from school, and running. I love running. It’s me time, it clears my head and I come up with so many ideas while I’m puffing away. Alongside managing my own business and also occasionally lecturing at Instituto Marangoni and the London College of Fashion, I’m Chair of Home Start Lambeth, a charity that offers support, friendship and practical help to families with pre-school aged children. Home Start Lambeth also specialise in domestic abuse training to help and support women in difficult relationships. It’s full on, emotional, but so rewarding. So my typical day: Get up. Get kids ready for school. Go for a run. Do emails. Create content for Instagram. Meetings with the factory / my marketing freelancer / SEO company. Update website. Run through lecture material and head over to Holborn. Give lecture. Get home. Feed kids. Bath kids. Put kids to bed. Collapse. Bridgeton.
Don’t forget, if you want to hear more, Donna (@SulkydollStyling) is doing an Instagram live session with me on Wednesday 4th May at 5pm GMT.
See you there,