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Desmond & Dempsey co-founder Molly Goddard tells us what prompted the collaboration – and how the Museum’s focus on sustainability left a lasting impression on the firm.
Known for their striking luxury pyjamas, Desmond & Dempsey is dedicated to celebrating life at home.
Last year, the brand teamed up with the Natural History Museum on a collection of pyjamas and eye masks featuring a range of different dinosaur prints.
We caught up Desmond & Dempsey co-founder Molly Goddard to find out what prompted the collaboration – and learn more about the design of the range.
Hi Molly, it’s great to connect. To kick us off, how did Desmond & Dempsey come to be?
Oh, it’s a corny old love story. Joely and I did long distance for far too long. Then, when I moved to London, I brought with me a collection of really flimsy nighties but quickly switched to wearing Joely’s shirts for the sake of modesty – and his flatmates!
“When I first met with the Natural History Museum’s Maxine Lister, I promised that I wasn’t pitching her dinosaur pyjamas!”
In my head this was all very ‘Richard Curtis heroine’, but unfortunately my personality is less “cute girl wearing Hugh Grant’s shirt” and more “Hugh Grant spilling orange juice on everyone else’s shirt,” so Joely revoked my access to his wardrobe pretty quickly.
We went in search of pyjamas for me and five years on, we’re still working on getting the perfect set!
Brilliant – I’d like more of these chats to start with a corny love story! So, for anyone new to your stuff, how would you describe Desmond & Dempsey’s approach to design?
Everything at D&D is centred on a ‘Celebration of Life at Home’. How do we make those moments of nothing the something? Watching telly, having leftovers for breakfast, dancing, doing the dishes… The greatest moments of intimacy happen at home, and usually in our pyjamas and that is what our brand is all about celebrating.
“An annual collaboration is a really important part of our business; it’s a place for us to explore our curiosities and collaborate with different communities and sectors.”
Right, from doing the dishes to dinosaurs; you recently teamed up with the Natural History Museum on a collection. What brought you together?
Well, the easy answer is that it’s Joel – my husband and D&D CEO – and Christian’s – Joel’s brother and D&D’s Head of Design – most beloved place in London.
An annual collaboration is a really important part of our business; it’s a place for us to explore our curiosities and collaborate with different communities and sectors. When we were brainstorming our 2021 collab, we started with the ‘dream list’. The Natural History Museum was at the top. We believed in their mission to ‘create planet advocates’ and wanted to be a part of that vision.
The Museum’s archives are vast, and I imagine you could’ve gone in a number of different directions with this range. Talk us through those first few creative steps in designing the collection?
Funnily enough, when I first met with the Natural History Museum’s Maxine Lister, I promised that I wasn’t pitching her dinosaur pyjamas!
The museum and the archives are unbelievable. It was the hardest kick-off meeting we have ever had. At the very end of the meeting though, after exploring every element under the sun and stars, we looked at each other and said she would talk about addressing the elephant – or should that be Diplodocus – in the room. We had to do dinosaurs!
Ha! And why was that? Why embrace dinosaurs having initially tried to resist?
They’re epic, they’re nostalgic, they’re fun and they’re educational. We’re facing a climate emergency and dinosaurs are a pretty good reminder of where we’re headed if we don’t all do something about it.
Alongside the dinosaur prints, the Card Collector print took me back! Are they taken from real old-school textbook illustrations or just inspired by?
Yes ha! They’re inspired by exactly that. It was a throwback to those card-collecting, when-we-were-young years. The coolest thing about that print is that it was checked over by the palaeontologist at the Museum. We wanted to be so specific with the details; so even the leaves that the dinos are eating are accurate. Ana – our Print Designer – drew each of the cards in colour pencils!
Amazing. Great work Ana! Now, sustainability is at the heart of the Natural History Museum brand. Did this impact how this range was put together at all?
Yes, their sustainable ethos made us change our buttons from Mother of Pearl to Corozo. The collection is printed on GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard – certified organic cotton, all stamped with a dino footprint on recycled cotton swing tags.
That’s great to hear. Now, I’m sure there’ll be plenty brands interested in exploring collaborations with you, but is this an area you’re looking to do more in?
Yes, absolutely. These collaborations are my favourite part of the business. We try not to put boundaries on what sort of brands we want to collaborate with. We have done them with hotels, bakeries, museums, fashion labels and so on!
I’m excited to see what comes next. Now, one final question: How do you fuel your creativity?
Travelling! I have found it particularly hard during lockdown to keep the creative spirit alive, so I’ve been trying to explore England like a tourist!
Molly, a huge thanks for taking time out for this, and a big congrats again on the success of your Natural History Museum collection. Let’s tie in again soon!
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