Celine Rita's Italian Summer

Friday, December 12, 2014

It's been a big year for local designer Celine Chapman with her label, Celine Rita, celebrating its fifth birthday this year.  In an industry where many new labels come and go within a few seasons, getting to your fifth year is a massive achievement.  It's such a pleasure to watch Celine go from strength to strength as a designer too, her collections continue to delight her many fans and myself each season and this range is another stellar one.  I recently chatted to Celine about all things fashion and her label's special birthday.

Evelyn: You've had such a busy year, opening your Newmarket store, showing at fashion week and doing other runway shows too, what were your favourite moments of this year?

Celine: It has been a busy year! Our little Newmarket store has just turned 1 which is pretty exciting. Runway shows are always fun, but my favourite moments this year have been introducing Celine Rita to new people, seeing them fall in love with our world and come back time and time again.

Evelyn: How did it feel returning to fashion week this year?

Celine: To be honest it just felt very busy! In the past I have been working closer to the season, but taking part in NZFW forced me to get ahead of the season in order to wholesale and expand CR. I’m looking forward to a little holiday over Christmas, but know that come February next year, all the hard work of three ranges in a year will have been worth it!

Evelyn: Celebrating five years is a great achievement in fashion where labels can struggle to make it past the first few seasons, what do you think has helped your success so far?

Celine: My loyal customer base who have really taken on board what CR is all about. My forever supportive partner, friends and family - their help is immeasurable and I only hope that one day I can repay them. Growing organically- not running before I can walk. There have definitely been some risks taken, but all calculated and at the end of the day I believe in my product.  I would never produce a piece that I wouldn’t personally wear.  How am I meant to sell something I don’t believe in?

Evelyn: How has the Celine Rita girl that you're designing for changed from your first season to now?

Celine: Five years ago I literally just did dresses, mainly focusing on dresses that girls were wanting to wear out to the races or to a 21st. The CR girl has definitely grown up and evolved as I personally have grown, but at its heart the values are still the same. She’s a little more polished and elegant, a little less ‘girly' but still has a love for colour & print.  My focus has always been on style over trend, a flattering silhouette, the perfect fit, beautiful fabrics, all in wearable, understated pieces.  I hate CR being described as ‘feminine’ there is so much more to CR than just ‘pretty feminine dresses’!

Evelyn: What was the inspiration for your summer collection?

Celine: For Summer 14/15, CR has taken inspiration from the Italians and their long lunches. Surrounded by friends and family, good conversation, lots of wine and cheese, and food made with love, what more could you want on a summer’s day? An Italian lunch - Il Pranzo - is considered the most important meal.  A tradition where one can enjoy the age-old Italian values of family, friends, food and celebrating life in style. When it comes down to it, isn’t this what is important in life?

Evelyn: What are your must-have pieces for summer this year?

Celine: Positano Skirt and dress. To me they are perfect - minimal jewellery is needed, no fuss hair, the simple, elegant silhouette does it all for you.  I love wearing luxurious pieces like these, in a relaxed way with a hat and brogues.  Also any of the Riviera pieces - off the shoulder is such a flattering look.  I love it teamed as a matching set.  The Verona Jumpsuit too - can’t beat it for a special occasion, but I also love it with flats during the day.

Evelyn: How do you relax over summer, do you have any favourite holiday spots?

Celine: My ideal way to relax is near a beach.  Lots of grass and trees, minimal people and concrete!  Hot, long days drinking rose or pimms.  Playing some tennis with friends, walking Flo on the beach or reading a book (I have a pile for this summer) - I still like to be doing something!

Favourite holiday spot is Matarangi in the Coromandel.  My family have been going there since before I was born, so not only do I have some pretty amazing memories but it is such a beautiful beach and just a little trip over the hills for a day trip to New Chums.

Evelyn: If you could have any it-girl, model or celebrity as your label's muse, who would you choose and why?

Celine: Tough question, I have so many girl crushes - just check out the CR ‘Girl Crush’ board on our Pinterest page.  But my fave is Candela Novembre.  I love how she wears colour, print and texture.  I love that she wears flattering silhouettes in a fashion world that loves the oversized cool girl in her neutral colours.  She has fun yet still looks very nonchalant and elegant.  I would love to see how she would style a CR piece!

Evelyn: What do you love most about being your own boss and deciding the creative direction of your label?

Celine: Getting to live my passion each day and experiencing the creative process from start to finish. Those times of self-doubt quickly get forgotten when a design is finally perfected, or when you see a customer’s confidence transform when they find that perfect piece for them.

Evelyn: Which overseas labels do you admire and are there any shows you always look up on the internet/Style.com each season?

Celine: Filippa K- a Scandinavian fashion company.  I love their ethos around creating ‘long lasting garments in both style and quality’ in this fast-fashion world, it is so refreshing.  I love looking up a variety - Chloe, Stella McCartney, Valentino, J-Crew.  But also the luxury French and Italian brands like Balenciaga, Dior and Prada who started our industry so many years ago and seeing how new head designers take on their role, using the history of the brand, yet looking to the future.  It’s always interesting to see the new interpretations.

Images by Anna Allport for Celine Rita

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