Oceanus founder, Hannah Attalah discusses how the iconic Playboy bunny found its way onto her 80s-glamour driven swimwear, in the two brands’ collaborative SS23 collection.
Oceanus founder Hannah Attalah received an email one day with the subject line: “Playboy x Oceanus”. “They had been following us since the beginning,” Attalah explains. “They loved the brand and wanted to reach out at the right time for a collaboration.” Launched only in 2018, London-based Oceanus has rapidly become a head-turning name in British fashion and beyond, with their 80s glamour drenched swimwear, adorned in hand embroidery. It’s a status now cemented by their collaboration with a legacy brand like Playboy, in their 31-piece SS23 collection, as well as a limited capsule line of gold and pink enamel jewellery.
The campaign, shot by award-winning Dutch photographer Lois Cohen, draws from the classic glamour of yesteryear’s Playboy covers, with an American suburbia as its setting. With inclusivity and the multi-faceted glamour of womanhood on full show, Attalah herself appears in the shoot, after Cohen insisted she was featured when she appeared on set, radiant and heavily pregnant. The playful, decadent garments are revealed in all their resplendency in the final result, enough to make you want to leave the office and pitch up at a lido before the evening’s out.
However, if you can’t do that, you can peruse it in all its glory and get the lowdown on its origins from Attalah right now, below…
Hi Hannah, how are you? Where are we speaking to you from right now?
I’m good thanks! Two weeks away from my due date now eeeeek! I’m nesting in South West London now, my home is in Battersea by the Thames and the studio is nearby too.
Talk to us about your journey into the creative industry! Where did your creative journey start?
I started working at Jenny Packham around 10 years ago and then Donna Karen in NYC after that I started an embroidery agency specialising in hand embroidery, mostly working with artisans in Mumbai and overseeing sampling and production at design houses. I was travelling around South East Asia and decided to start working on launching Oceanus in 2017 when I had the idea to create a vintage-inspired swim line focusing on hand embroidery. We launched in the summer of 2018.
And, congratulations on the collaboration with Playboy! How did this collaboration come about? What similarities do the two brands have?
Thank you. Yeah, I didn’t expect it at all. One day I found an email with the subject line ‘ Playboy x Oceanus’. They had been following us since the beginning, loved the brand, and wanted to reach out at the right time for a collaboration. A fun surprise between the two brands, we teamed up to create a vibrant and playful collection representing Playboy’s deep history in freedom of expression, inclusivity, and of course… the pursuit of pleasure. The collaboration came to fruition out of our shared values of body positivity, female empowerment, and playfulness.
Could you describe the collection in three words?
Playful. Nostalgic. Malibu Barbie.
What draws you to 80s glamour?
It’s super fun. They worked a lot with hand embroidery and textures in the 80s. I love how much they experimented with fashion. The culture was super maximalist and statement-[based] and I think this can really help to tell a story through the clothes. Referencing the 80s gives you a sense of nostalgia for the past and i like fusing this with a modern spin to create something fresh.
Do you have a favourite piece in the collection?
Yes, the Giselle Co-Ord in pink velvet is my favourite as it’s one of our signature embroideries but we developed the artwork to add the iconic Playboy rabbit head in gold beading, contrasting against the pink velvet-base fabric.
How did it feel being a part of the campaign shoot? How was it working with Lois Cohen?
I loved working with Lois and we’ve become good friends. She’s so talented and I have been following her work for years. I didn’t know until the day of the shoot that I would be part of the campaign as we planned to use Lois’ mum as the extra, but once Lois saw my bump at the shoot, she immediately said to get into hair and make-up. It felt so liberating. There’s a real shift where women are embracing their bumps instead of feeling the need to cover up. We wanted to celebrate and represent all stages of womanhood, especially pregnancy.
When you first designed the collection did you have an idea of what the campaign would look like? Did that influence your design process or was it separate?
We do have a slight synergy in all of our campaigns that really goes hand in hand with the brand DNA so I’m always thinking of the shoot, the designs, fabrications and so on when designing a collection.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to celebrate their body and embrace their sexuality?
It’s a beautiful thing to be confident and share our vulnerabilities openly. We always doubt ourselves and can never be fully satisfied with our bodies but I can see there is so much to be gained from having the strength to share our vulnerability. I didn’t think I would be shooting in a campaign with Playboy whilst heavily pregnant but I am so glad I did and that I can show my daughter these photos and that she was with me in these times.
And you showed off your baby bump in the shoot! What are you most looking forward to about motherhood? Could there be a kid’s line on the horizon?
Yes, I’m so looking forward to starting this new chapter of life with my daughter and best friend. We have a mini-me range which will launch on the new kids site, oceanusland.com in September. I have used some of our signature motifs like the much-loved orcas from our Marina dress and turned them into cartoon versions on organic t-shirts. We have organic cotton baby onesies too!