Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Profile: Casey Jeanne Fashion Designer

Recently I was lucky enough to be granted an exclusive interview with *the* ‘CASEY JEANNE’ one of this country’s leading new designers. After spending a good hour cruising through her photo albums I was amazed to see such detail and maturity in her work. Every bride wants to be a “princess for a day” and Casey-Jeanne makes that a reality. She uses gorgeous vintage style fabrics, layered with lace and finely sewn intricate detail she takes you back in time – to an era long forgotten and often longed for. Her red carpet gowns are going to become highly sought after and I look forward to the day that I see her work walking the red carpet at the Academy Awards… the Oscar’s and perhaps even on the red carpet at our Presidential Speech and the SAMA’s!  
South African Designer Casey Jeanne
I have known Case Jeanne for quite some time and I have to say; I am one proud ex-teacher! Casey Jeanne has always been ‘driven’ to give of her absolute best in everything; this is the recipe for her ultimate success I believe.

To my USA, UK and EUROPEAN readers – pass this article on, Casey Jeanne has that *something special* and deserves every great thing that is coming her way!

Sandy Bigara


"Q and A" With Casey-Jeanne

Skeletons of Romance

1.      So, Casey Jeanne, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see the future of the “Casey Jeanne” brand going very far. I’d like to be working with top celebrities on the red carpet, along with carrying on the wedding gown line...
Hopefully have a few more collections under my name, and an internship overseas for a designer (maybe in Paris). I just want to spread my wings, see where the doors open and see what opportunities arise and where the label takes me!

2.      Who are your main influences?
I am inspired by so many things... people, nature (feel), fabrics (touch), photography, art... anything with a story behind it, with history.

I love things that are nostalgic and feminine. Beautiful hand-made fabrics, detailing, natural, organic luxurious materials...I have always loved being creative and sketching; however, fabrics, textures, [the] drape of different materials and constructing them to form around the body is where my passion is.

In terms of designers and who “influences” my work, it would definitely be Lebanese designer Elie Saab and the late Alexander McQueen. But I’m always on the lookout for new inspirational designers…there are so many out there!

3.      Where did you study?
Bachelors Degree in Technology: specializing in Fashion and Textiles (BTFSH1) continuing into Masters Degree B-tech through the Durban University of Technology (DUT), one of the best courses in South Africa for Fashion.

My main focus in my degree is specializing in Red Carpet gowns for celebrity women, as well as giving wedding gowns “Red Carpet” flair, and challenging the traditional perceptions, creating the childhood fairy-tale for each bride by draping them in luxurious intricate laces and organic fabrics.

4.      When did you realise that you had a passion and desire to follow this career path?
My fascination with fashion design and clothing construction started before I could even talk and more specifically, at the tender age of 3. One fairly normal day in the city of Johannesburg my mother picked me up from the day care, and in the car she had just brought a new work outfit with the small amount of money she had. Of course at that age I had no concept of anything really. When we got home my mum positioned me on the floor and went about her daily business in the kitchen only to discover, when coming back to check up on me, that I had somehow found a pair of scissors and cut up her new pencil skirt of the 80’s and her semi-tailored jacket! That was my introduction to the fascinating world of fashion…

As time passed on I moved on to refashioning Barbie ball gowns, sketching all over the walls and in all the precious books my mum had been collecting for years. I drew on anything that could absorb the marking of my luminous pink plastic crayon.

When I was at the age where I could walk comfortably, I thought I could dress myself as well without the help of anyone. So from that day on my dear mother hasn’t had a say in my wardrobe. I remember those plastic heels that matched my Barbie doll’s shoes… those were the days!

Not getting full satisfaction dressing my dolls, I then started dressing up my little brother and pretty much anything that moved. Even my dog! Lamps had new identities and the hamster cage a haven for purple royalty, draped in plastic diamonds.

I would say that from about grade eight, I knew that the fashion industry particularly as apposed to fine arts was where I was born to be; [or] more specifically designing for the runway and red carpet. I have always loved being creative and sketching; however, fabrics, textures, [the] drape of different materials and constructing to form around the body is where my passion is.

Casey Jeanne Designs

5.      Tell us one of the funniest experiences that you have had… stalkers, drama, clients from hell…?
Stalkers… way too many! But my wonderful knight in shining white armour protects me… lol! He’s not the type of person one wants to mess with.

Clients from hell?... I have been fortunate that most of my clients were wonderful to work with. However, I have had a “client from hell”. Never knew people like that walked this earth!... completely unprofessional and out of line, rude, spoiled and to top it all off…. she put on 10kg’s two weeks before the wedding. Funny thing is… she blamed me for it. Thank goodness for photographic evidence from fittings (it was drastic). So imagine all the drama to get the dress looking gorgeous again… I did learn something from it though, and my T&C’s now state that I cannot be held responsible for extreme changes in size!

6.      What has been your BEST experience?
Aaaaah, which one’s to choose! Working with brides in general is such a wonderful experience. The satisfaction of seeing a bride twirling in her dress with joy and pride (ˆˆ,) I have some comments from two brides I really enjoyed working with:

“The excitement I felt every time I tried on my wedding dress was indescribable. I knew everyone at my wedding was going to have something to say about my beautiful dress. Once I saw the design I could not wait for her to start sewing. Casey was very precise with every detail of my dress, and she worked extremely neatly. My dress came with careful instructions to the bridesmaid, on how the get it on to me. My wedding dress was most definitely the best part of my wedding!”
Lindie de Lange - Bride

My overall experience working with Casey was amazing. She was extremely accommodating and made sure I felt special in every possible way, even up till the moment I walked into the church. Casey has an incredible eye for detail and added touches that she knew I would love. She was very accommodating with the quote and tried her best to work around a budget without compromising on quality. Every step and fitting was a breeze, never any major adjustments and her work is flawless. I met up with Casey about 4 months before my wedding. I had 3 different designs, which I loved but really wanted to combine. This was so easy for Casey and the next meeting we had, the design was done. I never had to change anything and she got going. Setting up appointments was so easy and every step of the process was a pleasure. I loved the experience and especially trying on the dress as the weeks went by. What was the most special for me was having Casey there with me on the day helping me get dressed and she even made sure I looked beautiful just before I stepped into the church. It was an awesome experience,
one that I would gladly go through again :)”
Mandy Bircher - Bride

Wedding Dresses by Casey Jeanne

7.      Awards / Accolades That ‘Casey Jeanne’ has won
From University level upwards:
1.      Pavillion Flower Show Award 3rd place
2.      Fairlady Cover dress with Lunar & Lisa Gundlefinger
(I was given the amazing opportunity to drape Lisa Gundlefinger's dress for the cover shoot of Fairlady magazine for the July issue of 2010, in the first week of experiential training. A great opportunity and experience I am so grateful to Lunar for. I learnt important techniques of draping and fit and it was truly an unforgettable experience)
3.      Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award top 3 KZN 2010
4.      Vukani Fashion Awards national finalist 2011
(Off to East London next week for the finals!)

Fair Lady Cover
Draped the Lunar Taupe dress bottom left sitting
Articles that Casey-Jeanne has been featured in:
1.      Featured on- Lotus FM in 2010
2.      Featured in- The Mercury, Daily News, Northglen News and others.
3.      Featured in online eMagazines such as Aliyana as well as Ballito News and now, SandyRamblings!

“ One of SA’s Hottest Young Designers”:
“Young, (almost) rich and famous”:
Out and About!
5.      What word would you say describes your style at this time?
My signature style as a young designer is both inspired by and dedicated to intricate RED CARPET GOWNS, UNIQUE once-off pieces...(I don’t enjoy the idea of mass production) My brides are draped in luxurious intricate LACES and ORGANIC FABRICS in innocent ivory hues to evoke an enthralling ROMANTICISM. All in all… RED CARPET Wedding Gowns!

6.      Is there anyone special in your life at the moment ; )
Indeed yes! A wonderful young man, who has completely swept me off my feet. Loving, handsome, charming, warm-hearted... I get Butterflies every time I see him!

7.      Complete the sentence: “We are only what we…”

“We are only what we believe,
discover, explore and dream”

8.      Where can people see or rather, experience your designs?
Well, at the moment you’d probably have to go to the weddings… No, just kidding. I have done a few fashion shows (one being next week in East London) but I am focussing on wedding dresses with a red carpet flair for this year and next year. I update my Facebook page called “Casey Jeanne” (which you press the “like” button) and follow all my goings about. I put up everything I do on the page from my wedding dresses to my collections and photo-shoots, editorials, articles.

9.      How can people contact you or connect with you? (Facebook fan page etc)

Facebook Page:

10.  Where are you based and, are you prepared to travel for clients?
My studio is based in Glenwood, which is central for most clients coming from the North and the South Coast (such as Ballito or Kloof/Midlands) I also have clients coming from all over like JHB so Glenwood is a great area. Unfortunately most of the time, I have to work from my studio. There is way too much equipment to lag around for consultations and fittings, and it wouldn’t be effective for anyone at the end of the day. So the studio is best… but I do try and accommodate if need be. (Sandy: It’s also exciting as a Bride, to actually go to a dress fitting!)

11.  Do you offer that “personal touch” and extra attention to your clients and brides?
Oh of course!… garments do not leave the studio without my personal touch and attention to detail, which is just what I love to do anyway. I really have a passion for what I do, all of my garments are custom designed for the clients to suit their body shape and skin colour.

-This including only the finest of fabrics and the perfect fit.
-Depending on what kind of veil the client likes, that is included too.
-And a custom made dress bag for the wedding dress so it stays safe!
-Also including a complete one-of-a-kind storyboard presentation of your unique and gorgeous wedding dress (sketches, photo's, fabrics etc). I feel that it is something nice to take home afterwards. So it's a whole package really! Much extra attention goes into my work!

11a. ASIDE: How much time do you like to spend on a dress?
I usually start making the dresses 2-3 months before the wedding to make for a relaxing and non-stressful experience.

12.  Last question: What is the weirdest design you have ever showcased and what was the response? (picture please!)
Ha ha ha… well I wouldn’t say I have designed anything outrageous. Maybe the most different I’d say, innovative is the word. That would be my Vodacom Durban July outfit from 2010, inspired by the Dandelion and the intricate structure of this fragile skeleton flower, challenging the “laws of pattern construction” which I quite enjoy doing.

Vodacom July - Dandylion

*We wish Casey Jeanne all the best with her career!

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