Mimi Holliday Lingerie
The launch of Damaris, in 2001, spawned something of a lingerie revolution. After years of underwear departments saturated in nylon lace and cotton Lycra, the designer seized upon a gap in the lingerie market and created high fashion, avant-garde designs in natural luxurious fabrics, epitomised by a signature Bow Knicker with a cheeky bottom cleavage.
The label is the brainchild of St Martin's fashion print design graduate Damaris Evans who, at the age of 25, started the business from her kitchen table with a £5,000 loan from the Prince's Trust. Aiming straight for Europe's top lingerie departments, Damaris took her creations to Selfridges and Le Bonne Marche, Paris, where, despite a retail price ranging from £125-£3,000 per piece, both stores snapped them-up.
Conquering the fashion press was the next challenge, but the concept was a hit - and featured in ES, Vogue and Elle, who awarded Damaris the title of 'Lingerie Queen'. As a result, a waiting list for the Bow Knicker in Selfridges, spawned an instant celebrity clientele and buyers from Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Liberty and Browns Focus followed. All stores have since featured Damaris in their window displays.
Damaris' designs and entrepreneurial skills were acknowledged when she picked-up an Elle Style Award for 'Young Enterprise of the Year' for the Spring/Summer 2003 collection. In 2005 she received the Royal seal of approval when she was the only lingerie designer to be invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen for a Celebration of British Design.
Unfortunately Damaris' direct competitors and the high street have also given her recognition, 95% of the whole lingerie market is now influenced by Damaris' designs. Those who have blatantly attempted to replicate the Bow knicker have done so to their detriment. The company has successfully settled out of court with many wannabes which include; La Perla, Myla, Dorothy Perkins, Madame V, New Look and River Island.
In 2003, after much heated bidding from huge high street names such as Marks & Spencer, Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Debenhams and New Look, Damaris launched the long-awaited diffusion line Mimi Holliday - mainline-inspired designs at a more affordable price. Rather than run the risk of losing control of the name, designs and profits, Damaris kept Mimi in-house but struck a deal with House of Fraser who exclusively sold the label through 25 stores nationwide. The first season was an immediate success and beat mid-market competitors like; Love Kylie, Gossard and Calvin Klein.