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Under The Loupe with Olivia Annabelle
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Under The Loupe with Olivia Annabelle

Under The Loupe with Olivia Annabelle

To all of our Love Lillicoco readers, happy Friday, and happy bank holiday for our UK customers too!

Here is our April "Under the Loupe" blog, and we are so honoured to be speaking to Olivia from Olivia Annabelle. Olivia Annabelle is a British sustainable fashion brand that is steeped in history. Olivia Annabelle's collections have enchanted us all in the office, with her current collection inspired by the 1820s. So, if you have a penchant for Pride and Prejudice, then it is a truth universally acknowledged that her clothing brand will set your heart on fire!

Hi Olivia, thank you so much for taking part in Lillicoco Under The Loupe, please explain your brand in 3 words:

"Whimsical, Meaningful, Heritage"


Source - Olivia Annabelle

You have such beautiful and distinctive pieces of clothing, what sort of inspirations do you have when designing and creating a collection? 

"Nearly all of my designs are inspired by vintage, historical clothing or costume. Olivia Annabelle has an inherently British feel, and takes inspiration from the nostalgia of the past, local traditions and superstitions, with hours spent researching the history, novels, art and culture of each theme. Each collection is themed and designed with exclusive playful one-off prints and accessories all designed in-house by our small but dedicated team of talented creatives.
With an emphasis on whimsical, feminine and classic silhouettes taken from different time periods combined with distinctive prints and traditional fabrics, the result is a unique but carefully curated collection that encapsulates the romantic spirit of dressing up in a contemporary world."

Source - Olivia Annabelle

It’s clear that history is continually referenced throughout your collections, from the Bloomsbury writers of the early 20th century to Queen Elizabeth. Where did this love of literature and history come from? 

"Yes, it’s deeply embedded in the DNA of the brand, it’s something I’ve wanted to continue throughout my collections which started at Uni when I created collections inspired by the Bronte Sisters and Tudor portraits. I’d say the love for history and literature started when I was a teenager. I’d become really interested in Design Technology and Art at school, alongside spending lots of time with my Nana who was a dressmaker. I watched Period Dramas growing up so I’d always had an interest in period costume so it was a tough decision between Costume and Fashion. I also used to visit lots of exhibitions in museums like the V&A which really sparked my interest and I used to collect all the memorabilia and leaflets from each exhibition in a scrapbook.  I love vintage clothing mainly because there’s a story and a history behind old clothes so I wanted to create the same feel to my designs. There’s a story behind every detail, print, colour and shape in all OA collections."

Source - Olivia Annabelle

What is the process of you designing your collections? 

"Usually the hardest part is picking a theme that’s got enough depth to it to create a meaningful collection from. When looking for themes and inspiration I usually start by looking at my extensive Pinterest board collection. Every time I find something that inspires me I try and create a board on Pinterest that I can then build a concept around. I currently have 120 boards on there at the moment! Then we get to work on creating print ideas, the story behind the theme, what story we want the collection to tell, look at historical shapes of the time etc, and we curate these ideas into a more modern way of wearing historical themes!"

Source - Olivia Annabelle

Your prints are certainly romantic, whimsical, magical and eye-catching, and we obviously couldn’t help but notice that you have referenced the Lover’s Eye motif throughout, is there a reason as to why you are drawn towards this 18th century motif? 

"The love affair with the Lover’s Eye motif started at University. I created a collection inspired by the Bronte sisters, their world, the culture at the time, including Victorian Mourning. When I was researching this the Lover’s Eye came up as some Victorians used them as mourning brooches too. I also then used eyes in my Tudor Collection at Uni, and in another collection too, and so my eye logo was born. It’s something I’ve included in each collection!"

Source - Olivia Annabelle

What is your personal style? 

"Well I always look for clothes that are either vintage, or have that kind of flair to them. Also I like to find clothes that have a timeless style with a bit of an edge. If I wear jeans I’ll wear them with a Victorian style blouse, or long floaty dresses and skirts with trainers or tapestry cowboy boots. I’d say my style is similar to my designs because I love to wear feminine and romantic clothes. I’ve started to think about where I buy my clothes from and I’m trying to buy more second-hand or vintage/antique clothing. I’m also in love with antique jewellery - my favourite is a Victorian Mourning Brooch I bought a few years back from a vintage market, it has a swivel feature so you can turn it with either the plaited hair design or the ivory and jet design at the front."

Source - Olivia Annabelle 

How do you style your jewellery?

"I love old jewellery, as you’ve probably already guessed! I don’t have my ears pierced so that comes in quite useful with old jewellery as I can find lots of clip earrings! I also love a good brooch, not many people seem to wear them as much nowadays but I’m always on the lookout for them to style up an outfit." 

Source - Olivia Annabelle

Do you have a favourite collection to date?

"The current collection ‘In Possession of a Good Fortune’ as for me it’s the most wearable and I love Jane Austen!"

It’s clear that sustainability and ethical fashion is central to your brand, where did your interest in sustainable fashion come about?

"It definitely started at University as it was a big talking point in our lectures and discussions! Before this I hadn’t really realised how harmful the fashion industry is, and I think it’s really important for this to now be taught in schools to educate people before it’s too late."

Source - Olivia Annabelle

What are your top tips for shopping for sustainable fashion?

"Research! Lots of small brands have sections on their websites talking all about their sustainability, ethics and why they are a good option, I have found loads on instagram and also through ethical and sustainable fashion bloggers. A lot of the bigger brands send out ‘greenwashing’ statements and it can be very easy to be drawn in by them, but if they’re a fast fashion company, they’re not sustainable."

How has Covid-19 affected you as a business?

"As a small independent business owner this past year has been a worry but luckily we have had loyal customers who have still put in pre-orders which has been incredibly helpful and supportive. We also made the move to pre-order which helped massively and we decided to keep that in palace as it means we can be even more careful about how many of each piece to make as we don’t want to overproduce things as it’s not in our ethos. We’ve actually had more orders than the whole of 2019 just during lockdown and it’s been our most successful period yet, which has been a big surprise!"

Source - Olivia Annabelle

What are your brand’s goals for 2021 and beyond?

"It would be lovely to have some independent boutiques stock Olivia Annabelle and we have an exciting feature launching in May which is already one thing checked off our dream list!"

And lastly, what is your favourite piece in the Lillicoco collection?

"Victorian 15ct Gold Pearl Starburst Pendant Brooch, with Original Box it is beautiful!!"

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