Q & A with Simply Christene




Elle testemonial

One of A Plus Market’s strong points is the lovely community atmosphere that is created by the stallholders and shoppers alike.

We are both very lucky and very proud to have a group of wonderful regular stallholders, one of which is Christene of Simply Christene.

Christene is a designer dressmaker who heralds from country Victoria and frequents A Plus Market always bringing her gorgeous quality bespoke pieces. We though we’d take the opportunity to find a little more about her as an individual and what’s behind her deigns…

Thanks for spending some time with us Christene. Firstly where do you draw your inspiration from?

Inspiration is a fluid concept. You mind never stops collecting ideas even though your are not aware of it all the time. I keep lots of scrap books full of ideas, drawings, pictures that I  borrow from magazines, books, films and  people on the street.

Ideas don’t always present themselves as a whole. It may be a neckline here a sleeve
there, colour combinations from a bunch of flowers. Or the way a fabric and the feels and falls may suggest a style. Even from memories growing up. I was always a child who had a strong case of wardrobe envy and that hasn’t stopped now.

I like bouncy colours. Colours that contrast rather than harmonise.

What is your favourite part of designing/dressmaking; the creative
process, practical sewing or the end of the cycle where you see women loving and using your products?

If I am truly honest, I love sewing. Its that moment when it all comes together, the good, the bad and the ugly. The challenge of making a piece work when it doesn’t quiet come out as intended is incredibly satisfying. I actually enjoy problem solving.

Very close second is shared between the creative process, especially through the consultation stage of designing a garment for someone or a special event. It takes a great deal of trust to allow someone/me to design and make a piece for them, especially when there is nothing physical for them to see or try on. You need to work through ideas, insecurities, feelings of anxiety and self doubt (on both sides) budget plus the editing through often confused and conflicting ideas. In that building process it’s sometimes easier to recognise what you don’t like. Designs are never concrete until you form them on the body or mannequin. It’s a shared process.

And then there’s the moment a client puts on a garment and its everything they want it to be, comfortable, classic and truly theirs.

You use great quality fabrics. They are always diverse in pattern in texture, you must have a lot to choose from – how big is your fabric stash – really?

I have lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of fabric. 

Its funny though, I never seem to have the right piece of fabric for what I have in mind (a good excuse to look for more). Sometimes though I find fabric that tells me exactly what it should be. Its becomes part of that inspirational process. Other times,  all of a sudden I have an idea for a piece I may have had for many years just waiting for that one light globe moment.

And your fixings and finishing’s are always so beautiful. I personally love
piping! – How important is this detail to your deigns?

I like simple elegant details. Piping and binding would be a favourite of mine too. Its a great way to finish a garment and add colour, pattern or texture. Big, bright buttons, covered buttons, braids the occasional handmade flower or motif and or pockets, all adds to the uniqueness of a garment especially if I hand make these details.


It’s my understanding you have come a wedding couture background?

My background is quiet convoluted I studied fine arts at college majoring in painting followed by another three years studying set and costume design. I designed a couple of stage shows but found the process of freelance design too challenging; designing one project whilst working on another and looking for the next job. Too hard.

That’s when I found myself in Bridal Couture. I worked for 10 years designing and making gowns of all descriptions. I also handcrafted gorgeous headpieces and veils. It was full on. Bridal season in Australia really is concentrated into a few months of the year. Starting in September and slowing towards the end of April, so it was often long hours but very rewarding. Getting married is one of the most stressful times in your life. Lots of emotion so it can be tricky. I loved doing the hand work and detailing on a gown. Beading, piping, moulding the lace and yes the hand made flowers. This is where the gowns grew their personality.

My move away from bridal is one of life’s journeys I started to have babies. I worked from home making some clothing, bridal charms and headpieces but not wedding dresses. I wasn’t set up for that. Little, grubby, curious fingers and white dresses don’t mix. I still do the occasional , non-traditional wedding dress and mother of
the bride. I’m currently working on some now.

What’s your favourite season to dress for? And why?

Winter. I like the concept of layering, contrasting colours, textures
and different hem lines/Asymmetry. And boots.

And finally have you had a memorable fashion disaster you’d like to share with us?

Personal – Purple Harem pants worn with way to high heels, vintage white maternity bra and bolero jacket back in college in the 80’s.

Dare I mention the shoulder pads of the 90’s,  I remember a bright yellow corduroy suit I used to wear. I loved it but on reflection????

And in Business – I only remember two. One a hot pink ballroom gown with white lace motifs beaded with sequins. Not my design but I had the pleasure of sewing it. The other also pink, lollipop pink Wedding gown with a huge train, lots of lace and beading. Not to forget the rainbow bridesmaids. Nothing personal just not my style.

Christene will be yet again joining us at our next market – SUNDAY 28th August, 2016 at Shed C – Queen Victoria Market. Come along say Hi and see her stunning bespoke range.

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