Dylan Thomas was one of the great rascals of 20th Century literature, a drunk and a brawler and a philanderer who tested the loyalties and the sanity of everyone in his substantial orbit. He was, however, the century’s most beloved and flamboyant poet, and to this day I can’t read Fern Hill without getting choked up by its propulsive energy and stunning insight.
Thomas also had an appreciation for the absurdities of life and he would, I imagine, be absolutely gobsmacked to learn that one of his poems had inspired a very pretty new lingerie collection from a young UK designer. No one probably deserved such an honour less, and he’d be the first to admit it.
Stephanie Woolven, the founder of StephieAnn Design, was inspired by Thomas’s Eng Lit staple “And Death Shall Have No Dominion”, though not for the reason you might think.
It wasn’t the poem’s spirited denial of death that moved her but the line “Heads of characters hammer through daisies” — a potent symbol of the irrepressible force of nature even in its most delicate manifestations.
You can see what Stephanie’s 23-year-old imagination does with that idea when StephieAnn makes its North American debut later this week as one of the “Ones 2 Watch” on display at Lingerie Fashion Week in New York.
Stylistically, StephieAnn is probably more akin to Wordsworth than any other literary reference, which makes sense since Stephanie grew up in the British countryside with a love of nature and gardens and exotic foreign holidays.
Those influences reveal themselves in a romantic lingerie and sleepwear collection that is distinguished by original English-garden prints and adorable hand-painted appliquéd silk florets. More than a few spring brides will fall for this line.
Stephanie’s debut collection grew out her graduate project while studying textile design at Chelsea College at the University of London.
“We were encouraged to think about where we draw our inspiration from,” she told Lingerie Talk. “I wanted to do something on poetry, so I bought a poetry book from a charity shop. That’s when ‘And Death Shall Have No Dominion’ caught my eye.”
To create her distinctive floral prints, Stephanie collected flowers from her own garden, froze them, and then photographed them as the ice melted. If you look closely, you’ll be able to see foxgloves, pansies and Canterbury bells in Stephanie’s digital prints, frozen in time in a way that echoes Thomas’s eternal themes.
“Our representation reflects Dylan Thomas’ idea that no matter how much you attempt to defeat love, its beauty remains,” she writes on her label’s website.
StephieAnn — the brand name conflates Stephanie’s first and middle names, and is her mom’s nickname for her — is being positioned at the low end of the luxury market, offering handcrafted quality in silk and cotton blends. Garments are shipped in a lavender bag.
Her debut at Lingerie Fashion Week will be a bit of a homecoming for Stephanie, who spent a semester learning technical design at New York’s FIT before graduating last May from her UK college.
The showpiece in StephieAnn‘s first collection is the all-silk Appliqué Pansy Nighty with a neckline trimmed with florets.
“Though lovers be lost love shall not,” Dylan Thomas insisted. And who can argue, as long as there are gushingly romantic pieces like this to capture the moment and preserve the memory?
Below are more images from the StephieAnn debut campaign.
[NOTE: Dylan Thomas’s legendary shenanigans are the subject of an upcoming movie starring Elijah Wood that chronicles the poet’s chaotic final speaking tour in the U.S. Can’t wait!]