My next interview for Lolitas Who Break The Mold is Kelsey, the girl behind the American brand I Do Declare. I am going to be keeping the intros to the interviews short, hopefully they speak for themselves!
How did you first get into Lolita?
I found the style though what I might consider the normal route, Mana. I was never a big j-rock fan but it's impossible not to be captivated by your first glimpse of the lace, ruffles and petticoats on that man.
Describe your own personal Lolita style.
Well it's a little bit all over the place. I love classical cuts but I also love pops of bright color that don't normally show up in classical lolita, I love high heeled shoes, hats, pockets, and above all I can't stand knee socks. I'm influenced by so many things that have nothing to do with lolita. For example I think a seersucker suit and a boater hat is the best possible outfit it's hard to translate that to frills, though It doesn't mean I don't try!
When it comes to Lolita and fashion, who or what inspires you?
First and foremost it's got to be history. I've been a giant history nerd for most of my life and lolita has only amplified that. So two of my greatest style icons are Marie Antoinette and Georgiana the Duchess of Devonshire. My other greatest inspiration is my friends. I'm lucky enough to live in New York where we have a very diverse lolita community and I'm always in awe of what the other girls come up with!
What is your current favorite piece in your Lolita wardrobe?
It's a tie between two skirts right now, My Antique Unicorn skirt because it's super versatile and it's got pockets and my Met Old Emblem high waist skirt because it's just perfect! The length, the print and the military details, it's great! I think my favorite outfit is my Prince Suit, it's a light blue frock coat and a big fluffy cravat and I love it to death!
What inspired you to start your own brand, I Do Declare?
The biggest motivator for me was that like it or not Lolita is Japanese, and thus the clothes were made for Japanese girls, who are a Japanese height. At 5'8" that means things are way to short for me most of the time. I wanted to make things that were flattering for girls my height and with a western build instead of seeing people pick things that might be adorable but just didn't quite work for them.
Where did you come up with the name for the brand?
I wanted something with a royal flair. I'm in love with heraldic imagery and the history of the UK so i wanted to incorporate that into my brand.
How long have you been sewing?
Since I could figure out how to thread a needle but for the longest time I was afraid of the sewing machine! It seems silly now but I used to make whole dresses by hand.
You've done a lot of fashion shows, what's that like?
Haha, it's exciting! It's a constant freak out until the music starts because I'm so busy doing last minute things, but seeing people wear clothes I've made and seeing people enjoy them is the greatest feeling in the world!
What has been your favorite fashion show moment so far?
I think it's probably in my last show which was at the Wonderland in Spring Dances of Vice. I had made one of a kind Alice in wonderland inspired pieces for the show and the friend who was modeling the outfit came up with this kooky staggering mad walk and it was perfect! She pulled it off so well!
In addition to sewing, you also do a lot of screen printing, how did you get into this?
I was a visual arts major in high school and although I never took printing classes I learned from friends who had. I started applying it to Lolita when I discovered how much fun it can be! The first print I made that I really loved was the Dinosaur Love print, it was kind of a play on AP's old Mode Girl print.
What's your screen printing method? Are you more of a designer? Or do you do all the screen printing yourself?
My roommate makes fun of me for doing everything myself. I design my own prints, make the stencils and print everything by hand. I like doing things this way because it makes sure that everything is up to my standards and that it's all original! So what you see on my Etsy shop, and everything I post on my blog is one of a kind!
What's your next big project for I Do Declare?
Haha, contrary to the last answer I'd like to find a place to produce a few items for me, maybe just two key items (the pleated pocket skirt and my favorite blouse pattern) then I can still do the printing by hand myself. I'm having a tough time finding a place that will make a small enough order for me while keeping the price affordable! Luckily there are a lot of options in the city so it's just a matter of time before I find the right one!
Do you have a Lolita motto?
I think my motto would have to be: TRY EVERYTHING. Try every style once and any hairstyle or makeup trick you can come up with! It's the best way to find out what suits you best!
Thank you to Kelsey of I Do Declare for being my second interview! It's great to see such a historically inspired seamstress in the community. She has not only a blog of her own, but also an Etsy shop selling her creations, including the Alice in Wonderland inspired pieces that were in her recent fashion show. I've personally got my eye on this pink and black velvet dress and this pink and mint striped skirt.