September 29, 2011-
Pop Quiz: What do sexy dresses, Economics and Maxim magazine have in common, aside from being your man’s favorite things to ignore you for? Answer: Former Miss Great Britain, owner of celeb favorite clothing line Leiluna Collection and star of VH1’s upcoming ‘Tough Love Miami‘, Leilani Dowding, of course. She’s that gorgeous, charming, intelligent girl you envy, but want to be besties with immediately after meeting. Read on to get the scoop on why this vixen turned to ‘Tough Love’ to cure her romance woes and how she’s manage to live the life you’ve always dreamed of.
BBHB: Leilani. You’ve got quite the resume; Miss Great Britain, model, one of FHM’s Sexiest Women in the World, television personality, clothing line founder, a spot in the November 2011 issue of Maxim Magazine, a starring role on VH1’s upcoming ‘Tough Love Miami’ – And the list goes on. How did you step into the limelight and start on the path you’ve taken?
Leilani: I actually got spotted for the Miss Great Britain competition while I was studying Economics at Royal Holloway University. I wanted to be a banker. I was literally outside as the first auditions were going on and asked if I wanted to take part. I got called back to the finals (and won). It started with that and then I got an agent and started modeling. I thought I would just take a year off and go back to University, but things just took off.
I eventually moved to LA because I was bored with modeling and fed up with being pigeon-holed as a Page 3 girl. And because the weather is so amazing in LA. After being self-employed for so long working for someone would be really difficult so I decided to set up my clothing line, Leiluna Collection.
BBHB: So how did you transition from modeling and your other ventures to owning your own clothing line?
Leilani: It was crazy because I actually used to design some dresses I would wear. Coming to LA there weren’t many things that I really liked. It seemed like everything (in LA) was super expensive designer stuff or really cheap, tacky stuff. It was really hard to find things in between. So I just made some dresses myself. I did mainly backless dresses before they really came into fashion and every time I went out people would be like “Oh my god, where did you get that?” So I decided to start really small, and I made 5 dresses in just one size. If someone said “Where did you get your dress from?” I would say “Oh I make them!” and I would give them the little business cards I had made.
It started like that and then I developed more of a line and put them on the internet to sell. Originally it was just going to be a very small, fun little venture for me and just be my own little online business. But then stores like Reve Boutique found me and they were like “We love your line, can we stock it in our shop and sell it online?” So I said “Yeah of course” and it kind of went from there. It’s not just a licensing deal to use my name, I put up my own money and started my own business, it’s my baby!
BBHB: Brains and beauty? Lethal combo…
Leilani: Yes, I studied Business, but I didn’t finish at University so there are things I had to go back and pick up while starting my own business. The designing and working out the finances are easy, but the little things like getting a business license and permit are complicated. My dad was a businessman and ran his own business so I watched him growing up. In the big picture it (starting my business) was pretty easy. And I got an A in Business Studies, that definitely helped.
BBHB: And celebs love your line! Recently we’ve seen your 3 Way Dress on former Girl Next Door and Playboy Bunny Bridget Marquardt and most recently LeAnn Rimes placed an order. What do you think attracts celebs to your line?
Leliani: The dresses are really glamorous, sexy and easy to wear. You can wear them on the red carpet and dress them down as well to wear during the day. For example, the 3 Way Dress that Bridget (Marquardt) wore can be really conservative if you put up the straps or buy a bigger size. And the fabric is great, you can just put it in a suitcase, and it doesn’t crease. They’re just really easy to wear.
BBHB: Sounds like the perfect combo to me. Speaking of suitcases, you still spend time in England as well as in Los Angeles. What do you think defines style in each place and what are the differences?
Leilani: The biggest difference between style in LA and England is that England is so much colder people just have to cover up more. In the scenes I hang out in when I’m in England the people I go out with like to dress up. But Los Angeles can be different. Everyone either pulls off the “I can’t be bothered look” or they’re over the top. They’ve got the tight dress with their boobs out and it’s short. In England a dress is never short, low-cut and really tight. It’s always one or two of those. That’s really the main difference.
BBHB: Moving on to the juicy stuff…You’ve had some very high profile relationships and you’re newest venture, VH1’s”Tough Love Miami” focuses on finding love through Matchmaker Steve Ward’s “Tough Love” approach to dating (think Patti Stanger with a crew cut). What made you decide to do the show?
Leilani: I decided to do the show because I had been single for awhile. I always had boyfriends and had been in relationships, but I found the LA dating scene almost impossible. I don’t know if it’s an American thing or an LA thing but I found it really hard to transition from just dating someone to being in a serious relationship. I had 2 failed engagements, a failed marriage and I hadn’t been in a serious relationship in a while so it was like “I’m doing something wrong here I need to get to the bottom of this”. I was in the “Tough Love” house for 10-11 weeks, it was like “Dating Rehab” for me!
BBHB: And as always, we come back to the clothes. Can we get a little scoop on what styles we will see you wearing on the show?
Leilani: I wear Leiluna Collection all the time. I make pieces that I love wearing. I’ll be wearing a lot of backless stuff, a lot of sparkly stuff. I’m really, really into sparkly clothes right now
BBHB: After chatting with you, I’m convinced it must be something with the guys because you’re totally charming…But I’m not the expert I suppose. Do you feel like you walked away from the show feeling good about your experience and what you learned?
Leilani: I definitely do. I can’t say too much about it but it was a great experience.
BBHB: And last but not least – A friend calls you and says she wants you to come with her to a fab party, but you have to be ready to go in a half hour. What do you pull out of your closet?
Lelani: My favorite is the long-sleeve, classic, backless dress. There’s nothing worse than when you’ve been sitting on the sofa, pigging out and a friend calls you up and wants to go out. But my dresses are dresses you can have a meal in! It’s like okay, cool I’m going to put on one of my dresses because they hide every little tiny sin!
And you’ve gotta love a hot chick who admits to that. Catch Leilani on VH1’s Tough Love Miami primiering this Sunday, Oct 2 at 8PM EST and in the November Issue of Maxim. Also, keep up to date with Lelani’s life by following @LeilaniDowding on Twitter.
You can buy Leiluna Collection at ReveBoutique.com