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The Warsaw Voice » Other » February 6, 2008
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The Dressmaker
February 6, 2008   
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Fashion designer Ewa Ciepielewska talks to Konrad Bagiński.

Since when have you been designing clothes?
In a sense since always. I was interested in fashion since elementary school. Together with friends we made clothes for dolls, and later on for ourselves on a tiny handheld sewing machine that my father brought from somewhere. I wore clothes that I sewed in grade school, and I also made clothes for my girlfriends. For example, we made a linen skirt from bed sheets and then we dyed them into various colors. When I was in grade seven, for a gift, my parents gave me a choice of a sewing machine or a dog that I had been nagging them about for a long time. I chose the sewing machine…

What was the transition like from making clothes for dolls and friends to serious fashion design? Was it about training, passion or talent?
It definitely starts with passion. When I was asked as a child what I wanted to do when I grow up, I always answered dressmaker. And then, of course, came the training. I was an only child and nobody thought I would leave home so soon to follow my passion. But when I got the opportunity to learn dress design and construction in a large reputable company, I went to ŁódĽ without a second thought. You have to give up other things to follow your passion. I chose ŁódĽ because it gave me an excellent chance to learn.

How did you move from working in a big company to your own designs and haute couture ?
I don't think one ought to call what I do "haute couture." There would be very little demand in Poland for such clothes. There are ladies for whom we make gowns, sometimes quite expensive, for balls, functions, but it is not haute couture yet.

As for employment, it is common to start in a big company, gain experience, but in the back of my mind I always wanted to work for myself.

Of course, it wasn't as easy at first as I thought it would be, but I wouldn't swap it for anything else. However, such an early experience in a large company is very important.

How complex is the process of designing and sewing an outfit for someone?
It starts with an order. Then I have to speak with the person, to get to know them, and figure out what they want. I usually start with asking what they don't like. If the client thinks her breasts are too small, we can enlarge them optically. We draw up several or a dozen designs, then we look for a suitable fabric. Then we sew, have fittings to iron out any problems and then it's ready.

What type of fabrics do you like? I get the impression that you like warm and soft ones.
Yes, silk, wool and cashmere-only natural fabrics; I do not use polyesters or other synthetic fabrics. My clients also aren't too keen on them, and anyway there are lots of them in the stores.

What colors do you prefer? And what style do you like-more classical, or do you prefer to experiment?
It's hard to put it into a pigeonhole; I call it sporty elegance. There are things that for example in combination with a classic skirt will look very elegant, and in combination with jeans will make up a comfortable day outfit.

Who are your clients?
We have a lot of girls who drop in to have a gown made up for a wedding or prom party, but the bulk of our clientele is mainly businesswomen.

Aren't businesswomen usually overworked? How do they find the time to come to you instead of buying off the rack?
My clients want to look different. They often say that there is nothing in the shops, or that nothing fits them. And here they can have something made especially for them and indirectly by them. And I always opt for femininity. That is most important to me. I don't like women dressed like men, in masculine-looking suits. Even when I make suits for women, they have to be fitted around the waist and hips. I am very happy that my clients also like that style and they recommend me to their friends.

Fashion studio ATELIER, Warsaw, 7 Wańkowicza St. apt. U1, tel.: + 48 602 599 991
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