This week I’m handing over my blog to Caroline Bruce. We first met at Women’s Enterprise Kent – a scheme devised to digitally empower entrepreneurial women. Caroline’s post was scheduled a while back and I’ve just updated it to let you know that Caroline is a finalist in the Kent Women in Business Awards 2017 in the arts/creative and entrepreneur categories.
Over to you Caroline …
British designer and dressmaker
Hello, I’m Caroline Bruce, a British designer and dressmaker. My business was born out of a lifelong passion to design, make and sell my own designs. I create bespoke outfits for women who need something unique to wear for a special occasion and can’t find anything off the peg. I also design my own unique range of evening and cocktail dresses. Luxury, glamour and individuality are the essential elements that go into each of my elegant designs.
Valuing creativity and skills
I aim to have my garments hand produced here in the UK - embracing slow, sustainable fashion. My fabric is mainly sourced through local suppliers. This ethos is also behind my belief that we should value the creativity and skills within the fashion industry and provide quality training in order to keep the industry alive for future generations.
I don’t know about you - but I’ve always wanted, not only to wear beautiful clothing, but to design it as well! When you’re wearing something special it totally transforms how you look and feel. I aim to capture this magic for my clients. My dresses all have an element of wow about them - whether it’s the movement of the fabric, the way it drapes or the cut. Every piece creates an individual magic for the wearer.
Hand me downs
I grew wearing hand me downs from my older sisters and watched my mother sew some clothes for me on her hand powered sewing machine. While my friends had wardrobes full of lovely new and fashionable clothes, I really appreciated the few new clothes I had! I realise now, that by playing with the fabric scraps from my own hand made dresses, wrapping them around my dolls and trying to fit the fabric on them, that I was actually figuring out how garments were made.
At secondary school I developed an interest in the arts and decided to follow a creative career path. My interest in fashion, art and design grew into the dream to be a fashion designer. I went to college and learned how to design and make clothes. I completed my diploma and left with plenty of new skills and great hope for the future.
I started my career in London by working as a sample cutter and worked my way up to become a toilist and pattern cutter at Nicole Farhi. During my years as a mother and home maker, I often made garments for myself and my family. I returned to work in the industry several times during those years - assisting the pattern cutting tutor at the college where I’d trained. Eventually I decided to start my own business. And here I am looking back at my first two years in business and building my own future.
Nature is a great teacher
One of the things I love the most about bring in fashion is having the creative freedom to create my own designs. I love being able to make something from just a thought, a feeling or a flash of inspiration. I like finding patterns in nature - a flower or a leaf that gives me the initial idea for the shape of a dress or part of a garment.
Looking at the natural world from a different perspective provides inspiration that can be translated into my designs. I also like to model or drape fabric on myself or on a mannequin so I can visualise the movement of the finished garment, making sure the end product is a wearable. Not all my ideas start in this way but I do find that nature is a great teacher and shows me endless possibilities for colour, texture and design.
The evolution of ideas
A jacket I designed earlier this year was originally inspired by an image I found of some waves breaking on the shore. I thought the wave ripples could be used as the outline on part of a garment. From here I collected similar images and tried various ways to use the wave design.
Next, I sketched out the shapes and working out how I could create the waves in fabric form. From this the waves became pleats - which I wanted to be soft and full of a fabric to hold their shape. However once I started modelling the design on the mannequin, the look of the crisp flat pleat looked better and this is how the initial idea for my jacket design was formed.
This is just one way in which I explore new ways of using nature to inspire my work. I’m looking forward to creating many more unique designs in the future and never fail to find inspiration all around me. This continual evolution of new ideas is what keeps me motivated and passionate about my own design business and the fashion industry as a whole.
5-day FREE mini-course
If you've been inspired by Caroline and are planning on finding your happy with nature this week don’t forget you can amaze your friends with your knowledge about getting your flowers to last longer. Sign up here for access to my FREE five-day mini course and make a start on getting your flowers to last longer.
Until next time, happy flowers!
If your flower arranging skills need a bit of a boost, perhaps you’d like to find out more about my 4-week online flower arranging class - click through to my post on Frequently Asked Questions.
If you’d like to join my 4-week online flower arranging class you can find out more about it here.