Celine Rita's Parisian Winter

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fancy a trip to France this winter?  As the cooler weather closes in local label Celine Rita is drawing on a European influence to present a collection that also harks back to F. Scott Fitzgerald's romantic Paris of the 1920s.  Designer Celine Chapman has titled the collection 'The beginning of everything' which is a quote of Fitzgerald's that references falling in love with his wife Zelda and was the starting point for the collection.

It's certainly not hard to fall in love with this pretty new range either, Celine ably mixes modern fabrics with silhouettes that hint at nostalgia while still being easily wearable.  I'm a big fan of hers and so I was curious to know more about her winter collection, and since I'm currently residing in the northern hemisphere I put a few questions to Celine via email.  Here's what she has to say about her beautiful collection:  

1. You've stated the collection is influenced by F. Scott Fitzgerald and his 1920's Parisian world, but interestingly again you've been drawn back to Paris this winter like last winter. What is it about Paris that keeps you coming back design wise? 
Last winter, I had just been to Paris, and I adored everything about it.  Paris in winter was like a dream.  The history, the architecture, the people; I was in love! This winter, it has re-surfaced naturally, it wasn’t a direct inspiration.  The Parisian influence came second to the writings of F.Scott.Fitzgerald.  It just so happened that he himself has been inspired by the 1920’s Parisian world.  In terms of design, I love the typical French mentality of less is more. The way they can put together an outfit that is so effortless, yet elegant at the same time - very nonchalant. 

2. What's your favourite part about conceptualising a design?
Finding the perfect fabric, and letting the fabric help tell me how the design should go.  Patterning up the designs, sewing them up and playing around until I have the right look and fit I am wanting.  When it works out, it’s a very satisfying feeling!  My second favourite part, is after the photoshoot when I am putting it all together and seeing the story fall together as I imagined it.

3. What are your favourite fabrics to work with and do you have your designs in mind before you source the fabric?
I love working with lace, silks, chiffons, cottons.  I like when there’s some spandex, it allows for stretch and comfort.  Fabric is such an important part.  Not only how it looks, but how it wears and washes as well. The practical elements are so important too.  I do have designs in mind, the fabric finalises, adapts and improves the designs.  I also love unusual prints to play with, and find my customers feel the same way.

4. I loved the coats from last year and was pleased to see you've brought them back this season, how do you feel they went and what have you changed for this winter?
The coats were super popular last year.  Coats are so elegant, so European, and so practical.  Last year I did a very thick 100% wool coat, for Auckland’s weather, it was almost too hot!  So we have one that is wool blend this year, so it is still snug as a bug, but not as heavy as last year.  The thing I like about wearing a coat is the layering aspect, this allows you to have warm sweaters and shirts underneath without overheating!  We have also done our our own take on a trench, at varied lengths, it is a cotton spandex blend.  The cropped one comes in a more traditional camel colour, and the other is a beautiful pale blue.  I love that these ones, will be a trans-seasonal piece that my CR girls can wear for seasons to come.  We’ve also done a maxi coat in the same fabric and in the pale blue, which we make to order to ensure the length is perfect for each individual. It is very elegant, and another piece I hope my CR girls will wear for years to come.

5. How do you feel the Celine Rita girl's style has changed as you have matured as a designer the past few seasons?
CR Style is definitely evolving as I mature as a designer.  It is all about style over trends and quality over quantity.  CR girls have an appreciation for quality fabrics, fresh takes on classic cuts and finding the perfect fit.  CR girls style is less about the stand out party dress (Although there is still a place for this!) and more about sophisticated design and modern, timeless pieces.

6. What are your must-have pieces for the winter season? 
Definitely the coats.  Also the shirts with the keyhole front - perfect for layering and another trans-seasonal piece.  The Daisy and Zelda dresses are my absolute favourites.  I fell in love with the ‘Daisy Lace’ that I had to get it in the ivory and the black.

7. How is your new boutique going, have you noticed a change in customer at all in its new location?
We love our little spot.  It’s a great way for people to get a real feel for what the CR world is all about.  There’s a whole lot more work for me, with having a retail store - more to think about, and ensuring I keep on top of stock and orders.  Our customers are still the same, we just have more!  CR girls have never been about a certain age restriction, I love seeing each customers own unique style and how they wear their CR pieces.

8. What's next for you this year?
I would love to travel to source really unique fabric for future seasons, and at the same time get some inspiration.  Perhaps I’ll look at having another in-season fashion show for the launch of summer - our customers love it, and its going back to how CR started.

Celine Rita's gorgeous new collection is available at her Newmarket boutique, her stockists and online here.

Images by Anna Allport for Celine Rita

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