On Wednesday, the New York-based lifestyle brand founded by Nell Diamond announced a partnership with Meena Harris' Phenomenal and Netflix, tapping into the "Regencycore" phenomenon by reimagining its viral Nap Dresses with a new custom floral chinoiserie print by London-based artist Diane Hill inspired by the show, which was costume designed by Ellen Mirojnick. There are three styles, each retailing for $125, to be sold exclusively on phenomenalwoman.us: a floral pink Ellie, a floral lavender Ellie and a Whistledown Trellis Nesli. There are also two hair pins ($40 a pop).
"One of the interesting things over the past 18 months with the Nap Dress becoming so popular amongst our customers has been us thinking: 'Who is the right first partner?'" Diamond says. "This is our first collaboration, and if I had to pick out of a hat, it would really be this collaboration. It's pretty surreal and humbling that it's actually happening."
Phenomenal had already been working with Netflix on "Bridgerton" merch. Harris reached out to Diamond via Instagram earlier this year, to discuss a potential "project," which was later disclosed in a Zoom call. This was right after Hill House had released its English Garden collection in February, which got a lot of "Bridgerton"-related feedback, according to Diamond.
"We got so many comments like, 'Oh my God, this is giving me major 'Bridgerton' vibes. This is so timely.' I remember getting a DM from someone, like, 'Wow, you really turned that around fast.' I was like, 'No, no, you can't make a dress like that,'" she says. "We started designing the English Garden collection a year prior, before 'Bridgerton' came out, but we had so many people tagging us, like, 'I'm living all my 'Bridgerton' dreams wearing the English Garden collection.'"
The Hill House team was immediately on board. Next came bringing on Hill, an artist Diamond found and reached out to also on Instagram. "I DM'd her and said, 'Any interest in talking about a project?' That's the funny thing: Meena had said 'a project,' and I said the same thing, begging Diane to get on a Zoom with me so I could tell her what it actually is," Diamond says. "Diane was amazing to work with. She's been super super busy; she has an incredible business herself and is an entrepreneur herself, so I was so pumped that she was able to do it, especially on the timeline that we were working with."
Though its signature Nap Dress was introduced in 2018, the brand has grown its fashion offering significantly over the past year. And this launch represents a whole new chapter for the company.
"I always wanted to have the ability to collaborate with partners," Diamond says. "So much of my joy around the Nap Dress is that it is this versatile piece that, really, in my closet has taken the place of jeans. For me, there's a style that works for me — my style is the Ellie and the Athena, I wear those two all the time — so having lots of fun prints for different seasons and different fabrics is really the foundation of my closet. Early days of the Nap Dress, I was thinking about how it would be cool to have limited-edition collaborations that could add that extra 'oomph' to a Nap Dress collector's closet. I'm a very superstitious, risk-averse person, so I wasn't necessarily dreaming this big, to be honest. I didn't think it would be possible to partner with such incredible partners this quickly in our journey."
Customer data — direct feedback, sell-out rates, buying patterns — is an increasingly important consideration for Hill House as it makes decisions across its business. And it factored in to the "Bridgerton" collection as well: There are two Ellies because the Ellie is the most popular Nap Dress style. "We knew the Ellie was the staple of a lot of our customers' closets," Diamond says. "We're also hoping to meet new customers through Phenomenal, and we think it's a good starter style."
Hill House has also been known to incorporate hidden messages or symbols into its prints. If you look closely, you'll see the word "phenomenal" written into the vine artwork that Hill created for the "Bridgerton" Nap Dresses. "We share this mission with Phenomenal of celebrating phenomenal women, so I think it was such a lovely way to incorporate that message and that mission," Diamond says. The hair accessories, meanwhile, are a direct reference to the Netflix series, based on some of the jeweled pins we see onscreen.
Nap Dresses have become so massively popular in part because of an attention to detail and a cheekiness that touches every single element, from the custom artwork to the marketing. These are qualities they share with "Bridgerton," Diamond argues: "Before I knew we were going to do this, I was pausing the show and zooming in to look at some of the details on the dresses. Nothing was overlooked, and I think that's so fun from a fashion perspective, to see that amount of dedication go into the costume design. That's what we think about all the time. What are the little details we can incorporate to make things fun?"
This capsule opens the door to a new chapter for Hill House — and for the Nap Dress.
"For us, the way we view collaborations is: When there's an incredible opportunity to partner with brands that we have a shared mission with and that we think are doing incredibly creative and cool things, we'll always take that," Diamond says. "This year has been crazy — everything from supply chain and managing Covid to growing the business — and there's never a perfect time to think about when you're going to start collaborations. But we knew we couldn't say no to this. That's what we see for the future, too. We want to continue to partner with people we think can take the Nap Dress to the next level and also put their spin on it."
Hill House Home x Phenomenal x "Bridgerton" launches on August 11 on phenomenalwoman.us.
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