Holly Dunlap, began her career in fashion at the young age of 17 as an intern for New York socialite designer Carolyne Roehm. Although Holly was not paid a salary during her time with Carolyne, she was paid in the next best thing: Manolo Blahnik Shoes. From her first pair of Manolos, Holly realized that there were shoes and there were shoes.
From New York, Holly attended design school in Paris and landed her dream job working for Christian Lacroix upon graduation. Next, Holly moved to London to work for her long-time fashion idol, Vivienne Westwood. Although Holly loved working for Vivienne, she missed the beaches of sunny Los Angeles and headed back to the states to work as a celebrity stylist.
After a year in LA, Holly was ready to move back to the design side of fashion and took the position of Head Designer at Lilly Pulitzer. Having grown up in head-to-toe Lilly, Holly jumped at the chance to revitalize the line, which had been defunct for almost 15 years. She revamped the entire line of Lilly silhouettes and the classic Lilly prints. Her modern, preppy designs made Lilly Pulitzer a household name once again and, after a few years at Lilly, Holly felt she was ready to start her own line.
Though Holly’s experience was in print and apparel design, her love for shoes made them the obvious choice for her own label. She named her brand “HOLLYWOULD” because she knew her main source of inspiration would come from the glamorous lifestyle of Hollywood, CA. Holly’s first collection of all-American, sexy HOLLYWOULD shoes hit Bergdorf Goodman in Spring of 2000, and is now sold in over 60 better boutiques and department stores worldwide, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Harrods and Le Bon Marche.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Palm Beach meets South Beach – it’s a sexed up version of classic preppy, always with loads of print and color. I tend to gather my wardrobe from vintage stores and markets all over the globe, and I don’t like to wear any identifiable branded items. You will never see me with the season’s “it” bag, shoes or dress as I think it’s more interesting to make people wonder about what you’re wearing.
What are your wardrobe staples?
In summer, long printed halter dresses with jeweled flats, big earrings, and a gold arm band. In winter, mini dresses with boots, tights, and a fur vest & hat.
Who are your style icons?
Talitha Getty, Sharon Tate, Bianca Jagger, Bond Girls, and my mother.
What or who inspires your designs?
I live in Italy and am inspired by Italian style, quality and manufacturing, as well as all of my travel. I’m also constantly inspired by interiors, and am fascinated by architectural details, furniture design, wallpaper, and interior textiles. This summer while in Capri I designed a print based on the pattern of an old terrazzo floor.
What are the must haves for this fall?
Riding boots are a must-have classic that last a lifetime, and I like them in a flat version or heeled with tights and a knit mini dress. I’ve stopped buying things that won’t be in fashion next season, and I think real must-have items should be classic or interesting enough to stand the test of time.
What are the greatest challenges or rewards to being an entrepreneur?
It’s very challenging being a small independent fashion brand amongst the larger fashion groups. However, there is a great reward in being able to create something totally new without having to stick to someone else’s set formula.
What is the one thing in life you can’t live without?
My family, 8 hours of sleep, lemonade, and chocolate chip cookies. I know that is four but all are necessary for survival.
profile by Ronda Carman