HOME -| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------|- COVER PAGE
Corinne Monique long has been sketching and sewing since she was a
little girl. Corinne attended the University of Alberta, Canada,
graduating in 2009 with a BSc degree in Human Ecology with a Major in
Textiles and Clothing and a Minor in Design and Product Development.
In her graduating year, Corinne organized and produced the Faculty
Fashion Show, in collaboration with Edmonton Fashion Week. During her
studies, Corinne traveled to Paris, France, and attended the Paris
American Academy. There she trained intensively, learning the haute
couture techniques of Nina Ricci, draping methods of Madame Gres,
millinery skills of Jean Paul Gaultier, and the handbag and accessory
craft of Anne Valerie Hash, as well as Japanese Shibori dyeing and
nuno felting techniques. During her stay in Paris, Corinne also
worked as a backstage assistant and dresser for Elie Saab during his
Fall 2008 Haute Couture Collection runway show.
In 2009, Corinne was
chosen from 116 Canada-wide entries as one of 25 Télio Design
Competition finalists and was featured during Montreal Fashion Week,
as well as in the press nation-wide and on television. That same
year, Corinne was honored with the Dr. Elizabeth Feniak Award for
Excellence in Writing for her essay entitled ‘The Little Black Dress,’
published in the Journal of the Home Economics Institute of Australia,
Vol. 17, No. 2, 2010. In 2010, Corinne competed as a finalist in the
Nuit Blanche Art of Fashion Design Competition, and was featured in
various media including The Toronto Globe and Mail. Corinne has
worked as a design and production assistant for many Canadian as well
as American designers, including Greta Constantine, House of Spy, Jade
Kinrade, Mariah Amine Couture, Penicullus Bellum, Sofiss Apparel,
Stefanie Bezaire, and Wildhagen Hats. Corinne has gained an excellent
appreciation of colour, pattern, texture, materials, construction, and
current trends. Corinne currently freelances. Through Rogues Gallery
Presents Emerging Designer Fashion Show during New York Fashion Week,
Corinne debuted the launch of her own eponymous fashion label, Corinne
Monique, an innovative, timeless, luxurious line for the modern woman.
Corinne draws design inspiration from her lifelong passions: art,
music, photography, dance, film, literature, travel, and nature.
Corinne designs for the strong, confident woman, choosing clean,
feminine lines to enhance her form. Her current Fall/Winter 2013
collection, ‘The Year of the Serpent’, focuses on a sense of
wanderlust surrounding the exoticism of the Far East and is a modern
take on the Orientalism of bygone eras for the global warrior-empress
of the future. The decadent and dramatic yet controlled collection
examines the symbolism of the poisonous serpent, a powerful
mythological creature familiar to all cultures, by conjuring up
folkloric images, opulent finishes, seductive colours, and sensual
textures, such as brocades, silks, wools, velvet, and lace in crimson,
persimmon, ruby, fuchsia, ultramarine, midnight, cobalt, emerald,
malachite, onyx, and gold. Cloaked in mystery and majesty and a hint
of danger, each gilded piece combines the techniques of haute couture
methods with ready-to-wear ease. The combined effect is an escape
into a dreamlike, narcotic state of enlightenment.
Q: How long have you been designing clothes?
I have been drawing and sewing since I was a little girl. This past
February saw the launch of my eponymous line, Corinne Monique, but
I've been freelancing and doing commission-based design work since 2007.
Q: Creating a style that will stand out from the rest. Easy or not
so easy to do?
If you listen to your inner creativity and aren't overly swayed by
trends, it isn't too difficult. Having said that, when I come up with
a design, very rarely do I just go with that first idea. Usually it
requires a lot of editing and reworking to make sure you're saying
something worthwhile that hasn't been said before.
Photographers Brian Branch Price, You Studios, Brooks Fotographie, Dana Broeker Photography.
Q: Do you have a designing background or did your talents come
I have a degree in Human Ecology with a Major in Clothing and Textiles
and a Minor in Design and Product Development from the University of
Alberta as well as a diploma in Fashion Design, Haute Couture
Techniques, from the Paris American Academy. But I was always
interested in all aspects of art and design. I don't have any
designers in my family, although I think my mother is very gifted and
would have done well with a career in the arts had she been given the
opportunity and training. She taught herself to sew and in turn
taught me to sew as well as giving me plenty of input into things she
sewed for me as a little girl. She has always believed in me and
encouraged me in my creative pursuits, somehow scrimping and saving so
I grew up having opportunities for artistic development that were
beyond our economic boundaries.
Q: Growing up is this what you dreamed of doing when you grew up?
When I was growing up, many careers crossed my mind. Most of them had
an artistic link to them - artist, dancer, musician. I also had a
stint of thinking I'd make a good doctor, which would have been more
practical but I think wouldn't have fulfilled me as much as fashion
design has. It's a hard life, but I do what I love and what makes me
happy. When I think back to when I was little, I was always thinking
and drawing up some beautiful gown, then when I was a bit older
sometimes draping or sewing it from old sheets, and then creating
hair, makeup, and sets to go with that creation and photographing it.
I'm a creator, I guess.
Q: What is your biggest challenge getting your career off the ground?
Fashion is a difficult market to break in to, especially if you don't
have much money or many connections in the industry already. Also,
where you live and grew up makes a big difference. Networking and
getting your name out there is important, but so is showing that you
know what you're doing so that you have something solid to offer
sponsors and buyers. RIght now, since I'm a one-woman company, I find
it extremely challenging because I have to wear so many hats
simultaneously, all the time. Not only is there the creative side to
attend to, but the business side. There's a lot that needs to get
done every day and also many roles that I need to jump into and
educate myself about very quickly.
Q: What do you look for when picking your material for your designs?
When I'm choosing material for my designs, sometimes I immediately
fall in love with something and other times it takes me many, many
trips to the fabric stores to finally choose something that works with
the rest of the collection, but is still special or fills some hole.
For my Fall/Winter 2013 collection, "The Year of the Serpent," I let
myself run wild and picked out things that I absolutely loved. But I
also had to make some tough decisions, cutting choices that didn't
work as well or were too expensive to produce. I was also lucky
enough to have been given some fabric from one of the studios I
previously worked for as an Assistant Designer and I was able to work
it in to the collection. To add some originality and use some of the
techniques I learned while studying in Paris, France, I created some
fabric for 2 of the 21 looks by hand-felting silk.
Q: What are some of the biggest obstacles you face being a woman in
The biggest obstacle I face being a woman in business is people's
perception. I remember going to a reputable Canadian fashion school
when I was quite young and being immediately dismissed because I
wasn't the right 'type' of person to be a designer, whatever that
means. I suppose I was quiet, taking everything in. I'm not really
what you'd call flamboyant, I guess. The director of that school then
had to eat her words after viewing my portfolio, but by then of course
I wasn't really interested in the school. Also, when you're dealing
with others in the industry, sometimes you really have to fight to be
taken seriously, even though it's a largely female-run industry. The
industry itself is a strange little world that you need to learn how
to navigate without losing yourself. Beyond the fashion industry,
people have a funny conception of what running a fashion design
business is really like. Sometimes people assume I just sit around
all day playing with bits of fabric and feathers, when in reality its
an exhausting race of constant work of varying types that you may or
may not have been trained in, 24/7, 365 days a year, nonstop, whilst
fitting in other odd jobs to pay the bills.
Q: Tell us about your creating process.
I am involved in every step of the creation process. An idea for a
design may come to me from any number of sources of inspiration - a
beautiful flower, a sunset, a painting, a piece of music, a film, a
new culture, a dream, an item I wish I had to go with those new
shoes... Sometimes it has more direction - you need another design
which fits in with your theme and design elements. Sometimes you have
to hurry the creation process up a bit because you need that new
design yesterday to round out your collection. After the initial
idea, it's time for reworking and editing until everything looks just
right. Sometimes I do a lot of this stage in my head, thinking things
out, or I alternatively draw and drape fabric until I like where it's
going. Then it's time to draft a pattern and see how it works out,
altering it as needed to fit just right. After that, I make up the
sample by cutting the pattern out and sewing it up. If I like the
sample, it will get finished properly, be checked for quality control,
and pressed. For orders, I'm still a very small company with small
orders, I simply repeat the process from cutting onwards, unless
another size is needed. I also really love to create runway shows - I
love choosing everything from hair and makeup to music to accessories
so everything is one big fantastic experience. From start to finish,
I work with fabrics and colour like a painter works with his brush and
Q: At what level of success would you like your company to be 5
years from now?
I've always been quite an ambitious person. Someone recently asked me
something similar and I said I didn't want to be successful. I wanted
to be wildly successful! I tend to dream big and I truly think that's
what had gotten me from a little girl growing up in the what's-Vogue-
magazine-middle-of-nowhere Canada to where I am now. So, I would love
to see my company flourishing 5 years from now, making a profit,
perhaps having a boutique or selling to some major department stores.
I'm also in the midst of toying with the idea of moving to another
country, so we'll see where I end up. Most of all, I'd really love to
be in a situation where I could employ talented and trustworthy staff
to take over some of the many positions a design house needs to have
Q: What advice would you give to other aspiring designers?
I always find this a very difficult question because I wish it had a
different answer. I guess I would say, it's only glamorous about 2%
of the time. The rest of the time it's a struggle. So, unless you're
one of the independently wealthy crowd (which I find is very rare),
make sure you love it and you're committed. If you are, then go for
it! Believe in yourself and don't listen to anyone who won't.
Whatever you don't already know, you can learn, so don't let anything
hold you back.
Q: What celebrity would love to design for and explain why?
If I could go back in time, I'd want to design for Grace Kelly, Lauren
Bacall, or Audrey Hepburn. As my circle of friends includes quite a
few up-and-coming Canadian artists, musicians, and models, I feel like
I've already dressed some 'celebrities.' But if I had the chance, I
would love to design for someone I really respected as an artist and a
person, someone who inspires me, someone like Marion Cotillard, Audrey
Tautou, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain,
Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, or Penélope Cruz. Although, I most
likely wouldn't say 'no' to any celebrity if they asked me ;) Dressing
someone for the red carpet...there's a goal!