On the corner of Newton Road and St Benedict's Street in Eden Terrace is a little boutique where a talented young designer and her Shitzu pup spend most of their time. The designer sits at her workbench and draws whimsical, feminine designs, while her pup chews on an old pink ballet shoe. The fragrance of a frangipani candle fills the room, and soft music plays. There's a big comfy sofa and a vintage rug and a pinboard covered with inspirational images (including a small pic of Ryan Gosling). It's a welcoming space filled with beautiful things, but you wouldn't know it was there unless someone told you. So I'm telling you now.
Celine Rita Bouqite is Celine Chapman. Rita is Celine's middle name, and it's also the name of her mum's mum who was a dressmaker. Celine is one of those lucky people who knew early on how she wanted to fill her days. She enrolled in the fashion design course at AUT and spent three years learning fashion design, pattern-making and sewing. She spent her summer holidays drawing patterns of pretty dresses and practicing her sewing skills making the dresses. Her friends would see her garments and ask to buy them, and soon Celine was making dresses to order every chance she could get for a growing list of regular clients. And all this was before she graduated.
Then, at graduation, things took off. Celine organised a casual photo shoot to show off some of her range, and the response was overwhelming. Orders flooded in and Celine brought a machinist on board to help her keep up with demand. In amongst this burst of interest, and while her fellow students were off finding other jobs, Celine saw an opportunity to start her own label. So that's exactly what she did.
That was three years ago, and Celine has been on an upward spiral since those early days. To call her 'one to watch' is cliche'd but very true. She showed at NZ Fashion Week last year and now has stockists internationally, which is no mean feat for a young designer just starting out. But she's surprisingly modest about her achievements and is happiest when she's at her workbench creating new things.
We talked for a while about Celine's collections and where she gets her design inspiration from, and like any artist she found it difficult to answer that question. Inspiration comes from everywhere. Her last range was inspired by the southern belle look of the dresses in the film The Help, but as her collection developed she found her garments reflecting more of a Jackie Kennedy look, with all the sophistication and flirtatiousness of that era. She keeps an eye on international trends but as a rule doesn't allow them to direct her ideas - her concepts are organic, and usually stem from her own collections passed.
Celine has big dreams for her fashion line, and given the potential that's hanging on the racks at Celine Rita, our money's on those dreams coming true. Don't say we didn't tip you off on the next big name in fashion..
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