After forging an impressive career at Bill Blass, Ralph Lauren, Armani, and Banana Republic, designer Thomasine Dolan's own debut collection is splashy and casual, focusing on eye-catching beachwear and easy summer dresses. The collection has its first preview tomorrow night at Saturdays Surf, where she’s launching five bikinis from spring 2011.
After studying graphic design in her native Maryland, Dolan moved to L.A. to work in advertising. “After a few years there, my brain was turning to mush,” she says. “Everyone looks great, but it’s a homogeneous greatness. I needed something snappier.” She picked up and moved to New York, where she met a designer for Bill Blass at a party. After showing him a slew of sketches, he hired her as an assistant, where she applied her graphic-design skills to pattern-making. She landed at Ralph Lauren next, after a series of interviews. “I think they kept calling me back to see what I was going to wear,” she laughs. “I played off the preppy-country thing: a chintz flower blazer, some shorts, a sarong, something plaid, and wing tips.” Four years later, she moved to Armani, then Banana Republic, where she headed up the women’s division and launched the women’s jewelry department.
She left the corporate world in 2008, looking to nurture something independent and small scale. The idea of cotton bikinis stuck with her. “For years, I thought there was a drought of interesting bathing suits, the sort of thing that existed in the early sixties,” she says. “I wanted to revamp that style in modern silhouettes.” The dresses, tops, and bikinis incorporate elements of men’s haberdashery adapted from Dolan’s Ralph Lauren days, as well as patchwork and madras prints inspired by vintage American sportswear. The spring collection will arrive at Steven Alan in April, and this summer Dolan will collaborate with Cynthia Rowley for her annual Montauk pop-up. Click ahead for a tantalizing look to warmer days.