Interview by Nina Fiorucci
Internationally published pinup model, clothing designer, and entrepreneur Pamela Marie is a bombshell in the fashion industry. Based in Milwaukee, WI, Pamela Marie’s boutique offers retro re-imagined formal and casual wear and accessories for men and women, including her very own clothing line called PMdesigns.
Find her online store at www.hollyville.com.
B Magazine: How did modeling turn into a successful retro fashion clothing line?
Pamela Marie: In recent years, my love for pinup and retro style has grown. I began pinup modeling in 2012 and debuted my clothing line, PMdesigns, as part of the first “A Retro Affair” charitable fashion show that I founded in 2016. As a custom, handmade, niche brand, growth is slow at times, but my store, Hollyville, features other similar retro lines, so the PMdesigns brand is getting more attention and I have high hopes.
BM: The second-annual “A Retro Affair” fashion show happened recently. How did it go and what is your role during the event?
PM: As the founder and organizer, I have just about every role during the show, including event planner, public relations director, silent auction item acquisition specialist, stage designer, show director, clothing designer, and model. You name it, I probably had a hand in it, but I also have a lot of help. We have many good volunteers making sure everyone who comes to see the show has a good time. I really could not be prouder of how successful this year’s event was. We ironed out what few wrinkles there were in the first year and the feedback has been positive.
BM: Why did you start this event?
PM: In the Midwest, there wasn’t a show focused on retro fashion. There are pinup contests here, butI wanted to see those models being supportive of one another rather than competing. I also recognized the show could benefit the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, a charity I’ve volunteered with for years. Stars and Stripes honors veterans with a free, day-long trip Washington, D.C. to visit our national war memorials. It’s incredibly rewarding to give back to the community.
BM: Why is body-positivity important to your brand?
PM: Modern pinup culture in particular has made a point to emphasize acceptance of everyone. Tess Holliday’s success is a great example. Her roots are in pinup and alternative modeling and she’s gone on to be a leading voice for body positivity worldwide. I worked with Holliday on her tour stop in
Milwaukee. She inspired me further to make my brand and the show body-positive and inclusive of all shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities.
BM: What attracts you to the WWII era style and why do you think this style is so popular in pinup today?
PM: The style of the 40s and the post-war “atomic” era of the 50s was classic, simple, and chic. I like how vibrant colors came back into style. In the “golden age” of Hollywood, women like Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Jayne Mansfield, Betty Grable, and Rita Hayworth created the definition of beauty we still use.
BM: How do you find a design balance between whimsical costume and formal dress in your Disney princess line?
PM: Disney holds a semiannual event at its parks, Dapper Days, which has become popular in the pinup community. The right balance comes from a combination of imagination and quality. Design-wise, I envision what a character would wear if they “went pinup.” Even with the modern princesses, Disney’s animation, colors, and style still draw influence from the first films, so it’s not difficult to translate their outfit to the style of the 40’s and 50’s. From there, I find the right colors, materials, and tailoring to make the dress meet the high standards I think pinup beauty deserves. I never want my dresses to look “costume-y.” They’re best when they fit the wearer well, which is why they’re handmade from quality materials. I believe the line allows wearers to truly feel and be as beautiful as their favorite princess. Who doesn’t want that?
BM: What is your creative process for designing?
PM: My creative process varies with each piece, but I’ve collected enough vintage clothing that I’m running out of space in my condo! TV can be an influence. I did a Mad Men-themed line for Milwaukee Fashion Week 2017 using the first few seasons of the show and early 60’s jet-age style for inspiration. Sometimes, I just happen to find a fabulous fabric that I can imagine falling a certain way and my ideas grow from there.
BM: Who is your favorite vintage style icon and why?
PM: Old Hollywood starlets, like Monroe and Veronica Lake, have made the biggest impact on me. In today’s world, Dita Von Teese is the most relevant and influential woman for the style I’m trying to achieve.
BM: What are you working on now?
PM: The line I’m working on now is inspired by worldwide influences and uses deep, rich colors. It will debut at The SOCIETY Fashion Week show in Chicago this October.
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