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Mary MacKay
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The designing sister duo of Louanna and Hilary Murphy from Prince Edward Island watched for the first time as models strutted their Dreamboat Lucy stuff on the runway during Toronto Fashion Week recently


The Murphy sisters, Hilary and Louanna, got to showcase their 2013 spring/summer line for Dreamboat Lucy at the recent Mercedes-Benz Start-Up Show at Toronto Fashion Week.

They may not be twins, but sisters Louanna and Hilary Murphy are practically joined at the hip with their clothing and accessories company, Dreamboat Lucy.

And this dynamic duo did some major forward design thinking for its 2013 spring/summer collection, which had a big debut on the runway at the recent Mercedes-Benz Start-Up Show at Toronto Fashion Week.

The reality of this surreal moment didn’t really hit until they saw their line going down the runway on a huge backstage monitor.

“Usually, we’re backstage and we don’t even get to see our stuff going down the runway because we’re dressing all the girls. So we’ve never actually watched one of our shows (before),” says Hilary, who is the jewelry designer of this tag team.

“That was pretty awesome,” adds Louanna, who is the clothes designer in the designing duo.

Growing up in Kensington where fashion choices at the time were few and far between, the Murphy sisters learned how to make due with what they had.

“We did a lot of thrifting — we still do,” Louanna says.

“Especially in junior high and high school,” Hilary adds.

“We were so sick of everybody having the same stuff at school and we just wanted to be a bit more unique.”

Their unique fashion sense would serve them well later, but first they had to learn the skills of the trade.

Louanna, who was enthralled by the clothing aspect of the fashion industry, enrolled in the Costume Design Program at Dalhousie University in 2004.

“I started it and realized, ‘Wow, this is a really intense sewing program.’ But it worked out in my favour because I got to know those basics in order to understand how to come across with your line. You have to know those basic skills in order to execute it,” she says.

She continued her studies in fashion at La Salle College in Montreal in 2006 where she obtained diplomas in both fashion illustration and computerized patterning.

Meanwhile, Hilary had started at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax, majoring in jewelry in 2006.

“I really like fashion as well, but I like working small and I like working with the metal, soldering stuff. I feel like Louanna is more like the girly one of us, with the clothing features, and I’m about getting my hands dirty, so the jewelry fits me more,” Hilary says.

Her sister joined her in 2007 to study fashion.

“Louanna was starting to make a collection while I was still at NSCAD. I was working on my own jewelry, but they always seemed to go really well together. And so whenever I graduated we thought, ‘Well why not? Of course we’re going to have something together.’”

They started their joint business venture when they returned home to P.E.I. in 2010.

“We spent so much time (prior to that in our living room in our Halifax apartment) — that’s where I had my studio at the time — bouncing ideas off of each other. That’s also where the company started. It’s not that she was intentionally picking out fabrics that would go in my collection, it just ended up that they went perfectly together,” Louanna says.

“And I think also because we have different mediums we bring something different to each of our crafts. Hilary might think of something to add to a design that I’ve been struggling with that someone with a sewing background maybe wouldn’t have thought of.”

Not one to sit on their Dreamboat Lucy laurels, they applied to show their designs at Toronto Fashion Week.

Their first task was to think of a catchy name for their fledgling company.

“We just started writing down words that we liked and dreamboat was a phrase that we used a lot to describe anything that was cute or attractive,” Louanna says.

“We just thought that it really suited our personality and something that was a bit more original . . . ,” Hilary adds.

“And Lucy was just a name that we both agreed on that would be a good representation of a girl that would fit our brand and wear our stuff.”

“It’s kind of unusual, so I feel it sticks in people’s minds,” Louanna says.

To their delight, they were accepted, which was confidence-boosting to say the least.

However, after some soul-searching they decided to put off Dreamboat Lucy’s debut at that venue until they had fine-tuned their company to perfection.

In the meantime, they were selling their designs at a Halifax boutique called Biscuits General Store and online at a crafter’s website, Etsy.

They slowly built their brand and clientele and worked at making Dreamboat Lucy more established as a brand name.

“We always say that our (trademark style) is feminine with an edge and a retro feel, so (we’re) trying to really incorporate that into every collection so that our (creations are) recognizable,” Hilary says.

Dreamboat Lucy then won the regional Mercedes-Benz Start-Up competition in Halifax, which meant they had earned the chance to show at Toronto Fashion Week in October 2012.

“We were so ready. I think I didn’t sleep for two months, just thinking this is so cool. We’ve gotten our chance and we just wanted to put everything out there,” Hilary says.

“We went to Toronto Fashion Week having no regrets in our collection, we were so happy with it.”

They had 10 looks prepared for the runway show, but were told when they got there that they had to pare it down to eight, which forced them to really focus on their strongest creations.

Being behind the scenes at Toronto Fashion Week was a dream come true for the two of them.

“It was really busy. Backstage was crazy. There were a lot of volunteers and there were six or seven shows the same day we had ours so those designers were all coming in with their racks of clothes at the same time we were,” Hilary says.

“Right before we had our show we basically had 10 minutes to dress these girls. There are a lot of people helping, but they don’t want people in their clothes too early . . . . So really you can’t start dressing the girls until crunch time.”

Their spring/summer 2013 collection was inspired by sea glass that Hilary has recently collected.

“We wanted to do something that connected us to P.E.I.  . . . and we wanted to represent that at Toronto Fashion Week in a really modern, not-so-obvious way,” she says.

“So we used a lot of shells and sea glass in the jewelry and in the clothing we used airy light breezy fabrics to reflect on the beaches in the summertime here and also the colours — the rusty reds of the beaches and the purples of the sunset.”

The aim was to also have a line that was versatile.

“I like to make pieces that you can mix and match, not necessarily just the one look that went down the runway but that you can play around with different pieces in the collection,” Louanna says.

Buyers are in the mix of people who attend, so that can open doors to new markets.

“Just the exposure. There is so much press surrounding the whole fashion week and that is really what’s going to build your career,” Louanna says.

“You have to be seen. You have to see, you have to be in people’s blogs and magazines. You want to be all over the Internet basically. And I think showing at Toronto Fashion Week is a really good way to get into that.”

Their spring/summer line will be avaiable at Biscuits in Halifax again, as well as at a location in Ottawa and possibly some Toronto locations. Their jewelry is available at locations in Summerside.

Their story has also appeared in various fashion blogs and magazines.

“I think we got a really good reaction. I think people appreciated the fact that we used bolder colours and patterns in our collection because right now a lot of people are doing super minimalist designs . . . and so we are bringing something a bit different to the table. I think that caught people’s eye and attention,” Hilary says.

“I think another thing that people noticed is that it’s all very wearable, which is something that we strive for,” Louanna adds.

“I think it’s extremely very important. You want your clothes to translate from the runway into everyday life . . . .”

Fast facts

- Dreamboat Lucy is a clothing and accessories company created by sisters Louanna and Hilary Murphy of Prince Edward Island.

- In the spring of 2006 Louanna completed the Costume Studies program at Dalhousie University. She then continued her studies in fashion at La Salle College in Montreal in 2007 where she obtained diplomas in both Fashion Illustration and Computerized Patterning. In 2008 the girls were reunited while both attending the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design — Louanna in fashion and Hilary in jewelry. While at NSCAD the girls began to collaborate their designs which led to the creation of Dreamboat Lucy in 2010.

- Dreamboat Lucy is a line of finely constructed pieces with the aesthetics of a figure flattering silhouette, a rock ‘n’ roll edge and a retro feel. Their use of bold, bright colours and prints is a design staple seen consistently from season to season.

- For more information, visit their Facebook page or www.dreamboatlucy.com.

Organizations: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, La Salle College, Toronto Fashion Week Dalhousie University Biscuits General Store Costume Studies

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Halifax, Montreal Kensington Ottawa Toronto Summerside

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Recent comments

  • Kay Wall
    December 09, 2012 - 18:35

    I can't believe the Guardian would allow people to post such frivilous comments on such a nice story of two local girls who have done so well for themselves. People should give credit where credit is due and not discredit people they do not even know. These young ladies grew up in Kensington, were educated there, have parents, grandparents and relatives in Kensington whom I am sure are very proud of them. If you have nothing better to do than bad mouth people, I suggest you go for a walk and clear your head. I for one do not like seeing rude, factless comments posted on this site.

  • Piet Hein
    December 09, 2012 - 11:57

    PNP, Joe Blow and Don have the Island disease called loserism. They are part of the pajama crowd who sit in front of their mother's computer all day posting comments and take special delight in mocking any successful person. To do so makes these losers feel good about their own miserable lives while they wait for the welfare cheque so they can get to Tims for a double double and a smoke on the curb. They are not hard to spot - just go to the next free food event put on by the city or some charity and they will be front and centre gobbling up the free stuff. Check their forehead and you will see "I am a loser" tattooed across it. Yes, Don, Joe Blow and PNP, I am talking about you and a lot of others like you.

  • I thought these comments were screened
    December 09, 2012 - 08:37

    It amazes me some of the comments that pass through the screener of this web-site. Some if not most of them are downright libelous. Do you see people willing to put their names next to such horrible statements? Of course not because they know they would never get away with it! Hilary and Luanna are two really nice talented Island girls who are working really hard to make their dreams a reality. The fashion industry is a very hard market to break into. The fact they've gotten this much exposure is a credit to that determination and creativity. I hope they don't give up. I know for a fact they are gonna make it. You go girls! And those of you that can't say something encouraging, please just be quiet.

  • AL
    December 09, 2012 - 00:11

    Seems everyone who commented so far are just jealous and unsuccessful. Most Islanders won't get off their lazy butts to really do anything big and exciting. It's like a pot of lobsters and the phrase "misery loves company" is very true in PEI. However, I'm starting to think it's just the same few people that always leave nasty comments on all the articles published by the Guardian online. C'mon, get a bloody life for crying out loud!

  • Laurie
    December 08, 2012 - 18:40

    These comments are definitely unnecessary! 'Don' - he people that 'get the best' are the people that have dreams and ambitions and use their creativity to pursue something unconventional within the contraints of their own lives. The fact that their last name is Murphy has nothing to do with their success - it is their hard work that has made their name. Also, Murphy is just about as common as most other names on the island (which you should know) and does not mean everyone is related. Making a decision not to support someone based solely on a name is prejudicial and very small minded. Your comment only shows the lack of acceptable nature some people have in this world and the poor judgement that goes along with your character. I'm sure these two girls come across ignorance in their path to succeed in their own lives but I'm also sure they realize these types of people will not hinder them in any way.

  • Jenny
    December 08, 2012 - 17:49

    Don.. Have you ever worked for or started your own fashion label? You have no idea about the amount of time and energy that goes into this line of work. The people at Toronto fashion week have no idea about these "Murphy" realitives you speak of so no special treatment would have been given, if they were not talented they would have never made it to the runway. These ladies are extremely talented and hard working and that is why they are making it as far as they have. So get over it and go buy a nice top. And the label will say Dreamboat Lucy so no worries about their last name being on it.

  • Rob Mac
    December 08, 2012 - 15:15

    What the heck are you sad, angry people talking about? I don't know these two girls or their families, but I read here a story of talent, dedication and hard work. Good for them! The rest of you go back to your perch in front of Tim's on Kent Street.

  • MA FAMILY
    December 08, 2012 - 13:26

    TO MR OR MRS PNP! I DONT KNOW HOW TO TAKE YOUR COMMENT!?! THESE TO LADIES ARE MY FIRST COUSINS AND WORKED VERY HARD TO GET WHERE THEY ARE AND WORK A REGULAR JOBS ON TOP OF IT. PNP PROGRAM YES IT IS F***ED UP BUT IN A STORY LIKE THIS JUST DROP IT! I HEAR OF SO MANY ISLANDERS THAT WORKED HARD TO GET WERE THEY ARE AND I KNOW THEY DIDN'T GET PNP MONEY FOR A FACT BUT ITS THEY WAY THIS ISLAND THINKS SOMEONE IS WORKING HARD THEY GOT STUFF TO SHOW FOR AND GOING SOME WHERE WITH IT. BUT ISLANDERS HAVE ONLY ONE WAY OF THINKING THEY GOT PNP ITS BECOMING B.S. THE PAST IS THE PAST WHAT WAS DONE IS DONE IN STORIES LIKE THIS........ SAY CONGRATS DON'T QUESTION YO! JUST BE PROUD FOR THEM NUFF SAID

  • Joe Blow
    December 08, 2012 - 11:59

    Ohhh....I thought PNP was created to fatten MLA's and their friends and families bank accounts, not help small businesses!! My mistake!!

  • don
    December 08, 2012 - 11:27

    the last name says it all only certain people on PEI gets the best and the rest suffer. i know i will not in anyway buy anything with there name on it nor my family.

  • pnp
    December 08, 2012 - 09:34

    Did they get any pnp units? If they didnt they should have.