Where did your interest in fashion start?
One of my earliest memories was when my cousin went into the next room and came back with an outfit she had just sewn for Barbie. I was hooked! My first ‘real’ sewing machine at age 4 started a life long love affair with being able to create my own clothes.
What is your design background?
I knew I was going to be a ‘fashion designer’ from a very early age. My first design job was when I was 19, half way through college. I designed a lot of skiwear and outerwear for many years then started working for a company called Fashionmark, which I eventually purchased in 2003. Before I started designing my first brand, Diane Kennedy in 2007, I did a lot of work for many other companies, most notable was Lululemon.
What led to the creation of Cherry Velvet?
I was at a vintage car show and admired all the gorgeous pin-up girls in retro dresses and fluffy petticoats. When I went to buy myself a dress, I discovered a real need for well-fitted plus size dresses in beautiful prints and retro style.
What has your experience been creating clothes for such a broad range of sizes?
As a designer, patternmaker and a plus size woman, creating clothes that really fit and flatter the curvy body has always been my main focus. As the owner of Fashionmark, I have extensive experience in patternmaking, fitting and grading (sizing) for every size range and type of clothing.
How would you describe your personal style?
During the day I wear my signature brand Diane Kennedy, organic bamboo knits designed especially for the curvy figure. I live in these clothes, they are as soft and comfortable as pajamas. But of course I love to dress up in Cherry Velvet.
What styling tips do you have for your dresses?
My favourite accessories for a Cherry Velvet dress are false eyelashes, bright (red) lips, a pretty hair flower and a great pair of either black or nude fishnet stockings. A frothy crinoline and some sparkle really dials up the glamour!
What/who influences your designs?
Like most retro designers I look to the ‘golden’ era of fashion for ideas. The styles of the fourties, fifties and sixties influence my designs. But I also spend a lot of time considering what styles will flatter the curvy body. For example, my ‘Marilyn’ dress came from my desire for a halter style. But I know from personal experience, having to find and buy a special bra for one dress is a pain. Hence I came up with an idea that would allow for both excellent bra coverage and the details I really wanted.
Tell us a little bit about your thoughts on Gwynnie Bee!
What a great idea! how exciting to be able to sample clothes from a wide range of designers at an affordable price!
Cherry Velvet launches in the Gwynnie Bee collection tomorrow with another installment of our New Arrivals!