I love fashion
For as long as I can remember and in fact before that, my mother made our clothes. She knitted and sewed and threaded her way through our lives. I vividly recall with graphic detail key garments my mother created, dresses and jerseys, my brothers shorts and shirts. She continued with passion attending sewing classes uninterrupted until the day before she died. I can see her clearly down the years pinning pattern on folded fabric and cutting cloth with precision from the latest creation from the German Burda magazine. No translator required. The original ‘material girl!’ It came as no surprise to discover myself hooked into the fashion industry from the moment I had my own children though not behind the machine, in front of it.
I was born in Cape Town, the last of five children to an Irish father and a British mother. Creativity and entrepreneurship is in our blood. From construction to constructing, each of my siblings has this capacity and attribute in one form or another.
I graduated from school and college before proceeding to nursing, food, family and fashion. A circuitous route. My first design studio was at home.
But wait, not so fast! I mentioned I was hooked! Well I learnt how to crochet and way before that designed dolls clothes, from start to finish with the tracing paper and scraps from my mom’s stash, stitching to sample size the best-dressed miniature models and mannequins.
Becoming a mother rekindled my fondness for this. I wanted to clothe my kids in garments I had put together. They were accommodating and good-natured. The rest as they say, is history.
Starting with a ‘Party Plan’ concept in homes of family and friends and my first studio with freelance pattern makers and seamstresses. I shopped for cloth and trims and put the ranges together, always my favourite part.
Moving on I sold my Collections to Departmental and Chain Stores and had both Collections (Ondine & Exit) in YDE for 15 years. This is when I started to embellish the garments with embroidery, appliqué , printing, tailoring, beading and hand painted buttons and buckles.
Being a Cape Town based studio, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to artisans. Visiting International Trade Fairs and fashion shows keeps me on track.
Working with cotton yarns in Mauritius developing ranges for my knitwear collections was arguably some of my best primary work.
Recently, my daughter, Ondine, joined me, bringing with her a smartness and savvy that is refreshing. Once upon a time my son Rory let me dress him up, my very own Lord Fauntleroy. Today, his advice on business and finance is taken seriously.