Glitz and Glamour there is never a dull moment with the emerging designer Courtenay. Founder of Melbourne label MAUDE Studio
Having handcrafted all her collection to shimmer perfection. Courtenay’s hard work shows in all her ultimate statement pieces.
I sat down with Courtenay for our interview inside a café, below where her studio is situated. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek upstairs. I must say it’s very enchanting to see the full range out in display I was mesmerised by the handbags, a truly beautiful collection. From lined up bags to cabineted glitzy sparkly shoes she had hand embellished herself.
Did you study fashion?
I attended RMIT’s, Bachelor Of Design (Fashion) course, I graduated in 2008 with first class honours.
I was awarded Most Promising Student in 2007, which was judged by Karen Rieschieck, owner of Alice Euphemia which was a little boutique in the Nicholson building which housed independent Australian designers. After the completion of my course I moved overseas to Stockholm, Sweden. I interned for 6 months with local designers Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair. It was a small boutique fashion company where i got to work in all area's of the business. The designers there was really creative and inspiring, it was great to work alongside her.
What was it like to intern overseas?
I always knew when I graduated I wanted to go to Europe. My internship was for six months. It was a fantastic experience, because it was a really small team of seven people, so it was very hands on. After my internship I then started working for a much bigger company, which gave me a different skill set and valuable knowledge into the high street market.
What is your label about?
MAUDE Studio is very much about stand out pieces. I focus on capturing the preciousness of an object within wearability as well trying to make something fun, interesting and unique. It's also a celebration of design imagination. i want to develop the idea of creating preciousness within certain objects, that's what i'm exploring at the moment. I don't take myself too seriously and I love what I do. MAUDE Studio is about people who want to celebrate their unique personality and style. The brand is for anyone who is after something fun and interesting. The Maude customer is outgoing, independent and smiles involuntarily in response to shiny things. It's not so much about an age group, more about a mindset and attitude
What made you create this label? Tell us your story
I’ve always wanted to have my own design studio but before I could start on my own label, I wanted to gain some experience in the industry. After working within a small and super creative boutique design firm, I then worked at a much larger and more commercial fashion company, so I felt quite confident in being able to start my own label.
What’s a usual day in the office?
My studio overlooks a gallery space which is such a nice place to arrive to every morning. Basically at the moment I hand make all the pieces so that takes up most of my time. My usual day is centred around sewing, cutting out fabric pieces, applying all the hardware different gold hard wear plates installing them. Answering emails and getting in touch with people, being present online and in social media.
How many in you’re team?
Currently its just myself, however I have some really special and amazing people who have donated some of their time to helping me out at this early stage. Also I have worked really closely with Niika who are an amazing digital agency and managed to create an incredible website and online store which reflects the MAUDE Studio style.
How did you learn to create and make your handbags?
I taught myself how to make them. I learnt at Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair that you can make anything you want however you want, there are no rules. Coming from a womenswear background, I approached handbags the same way you would a garment. However it was a long process of trial and error to make the bags perfect, as the they need to be practical, functional, long-lasting and durable-as well as pretty and fun!
How do you go about sourcing your products?
It just depends, I try to find my fabrics locally but unfortunately that is difficult. Often I can’t find what I need so I have sourced some of my fabrics though an overseas wholesaler, but where I can I will buy fabrics locally.
What materials do you use?
I use synthetic fabrics different variations of PU and PVC, as well as Polyester. I’m vegetarian so I prefer not to work with leather, and there are some really amazing synthetic fabrics available.
Where is the final product made?
All items are handmade locally in Melbourne by hand.
How did you get to where you are now with your label?
Experience and hard work. Having worked for a small design label helped me learn how to run things in my own small business. In addition to this, working for a larger company helped gain an understanding from a really structured business perspective. I have also just completed a Certificate 4 in Small Business so that was really useful and relevant.
How and what gives your inspiration for each collection?
My first collection Blue Planet (2012) was very much inspire by David Attenborough’s documentary titled “The Blue Planet” I’ve always been fascinated by sea creatures and in this collection you can see it is very much present. It was a five piece woman’s wear capsule collection featuring delicate pleating and flounces to emulate underwater creatures.
Glittermare (2013) was a mixture of shoes and clutches embellished with brightness and sparkles and spikes. I managed to source a whole heap of sample jewellery at the time and I came up with the idea to use all of those to regenerate something existing to make a new and exciting creation. I wanted to make pieces which were really over the top bling, crazy cool it was a scary fun look that I developed and applied onto clutches and shoes. I love the photos of this collection its one of my favourite shoots.
The Candy Collection (2014) I knew I wanted to explore handbag design and so I decided to start to develop and focus on that. The Candy Collection is a 5 piece ensemble of bright and shimmery embellished handbags reflective of all things sugary sweet and artificial. It is currently available to purchase via the online store. I wanted to represent the feeling of being in a candy store but also make something beautiful and unique at the same time.
My previous collections, Blue Planet and Glittermare were both developed as just personal creative outlet. Whereas The Candy Collection is my first commercial collection available for purchase
What is your favourite part about being a fashion designer?
Working for myself is great, I have so much creative freedom. Previously I had worked for a really big company so now working for myself I can explore different ideas and concepts that inspire and drive me as a designer. Being able to do what you love and what interests you then finding a customer who appreciates that is very rewarding.
What’s your advice on networking to all our emerging designers and students?
Be outgoing and introduce yourself, be interested in what other people are doing. Follow people up people and if your very genuine about yourself and what you love people will recognise that and be interested in helping you out. Also, be nice it’s free and you never know where it will lead you.
What’s your current achievement with the brand that you are most proud of?
Getting my brand off the ground. Everything has come together really well and I’m really happy with the brand identity and the collection. I feel really proud of the online store and fortunate to have been able to work with Niika who have done such an amazing job with my website and online store. I’ve also had great people help me through the process supporting me at different stages with different things.
How many years did it take for your idea to hit reality and start becoming a reality?
The concept has been bubbling ever since I was a fashion student. But so far its been eight months and the online store launched a couple of weeks ago.
Who are your inspiration/ fashion designers who you look up to?
Lots of people as well lots of different things! I do have a huge appreciation for Manish Arora he is amazing. What he does is what I dream about doing, he’s really into embellishments and delicate designs, which I admire and love.
And lastly, any advice to people who want to get into the industry!
Try and align yourself with people who you admire and look up. Also with whom you want to see yourself as eventually. Try and get close to them and learn from them. My internship really defined me as a designer. Choose your internship wisely because your time is very precious, you have the potential to learn so much or so little. Additionally having a belief in what you're doing
Special thanks to Courtenay xx