Irene

Irene Grasser of God’s Fashion House  is a fashion designer & lecturer at DAF in Cape Town.

(She  is also an old friend from from both Tech & church, & the creator of my wedding dress more than 8 years ago).irene dress 1

I thought it may be helpful to interview her as a successful Christian with experience in the fashion industry & as a lecturer. Irene worked in industry full time for 3 years before taking up her role at DAF in 2006, and continues to work privately for 3-5 clients a year, mostly weddings. She is also busy embarking on a new venture in children’s clothing that we’ll look at more further down.

Though she works in Cape Town, she is from Namibia where she had a career as a school teacher before moving here & taking up design. She chise fashion design because she was tired of teaching, and had grown up with home made clothes. She had also found that she was seldom satisfied with the patterns or ready-made clothing out their. & often wanted to make alterations beyond her ability.

Initially she dreamed of starting up a skills training centre, but looking back she realises it would have meant repeating herself too often, and would have caused her frustration.

As a student she was struck by the amount of work required from her at technikon, aeven though. She had previous university studies behind her.  The most useful lessons there for her were in pattern making since she already knew how to sew & found it easy to desing in her head.

Her time as a design employee were good because she had a great boss who insisted on maintaining quality regardless of he numbers they put out. It was a good time for her to hone her skills and understanding of production lines. She did however find that it didn’t always allign with her ethics in regard to finances & re-investing in the business & people, & there were a few individuals who were hard to get allong with. she had some very practical advice such as not to leave your stock in your car where it is easily stolen.

Her best advice for students is to work hard, and not to be afraid to make mistakes. She was saddened by how many students want to play it safe while studying, which is meant to be a time of learning and discovery. She also advised that students focus on developing good time management, which does not seem to come naturally to creative people. She loves seeing her students grow & develop, and seeing their passion and the way they make the knowledge theirs. She does however find admin & marking less exciting, especially when she faces those ‘I told you so’ moments when people simply didn’t listen to her.

Within the industry in general, the hardest challenges for her as a Christian have been the sexuality and nudity. She also finds it hard to keep up with the consumerism attitudes, and the superficial talk aimed at breeding discontent and close trend following. Personally, she tends more towards classic styles that are less fleeting. She also observed that the cyclical nature of high trends make such discontent even more superficial.
As a Christian, she has been able to step outside this superficial world and see what the people around her really want, such as fit and modesty. She is also able to identify the corrupt nature of the profession and its individuals & understand it from the biblical view of our fallen nature, knowing that she too is imperfect. This gives her a greater capacity for empathy than she would have had otherwise.
The future:
Irene is developing a range of childrens’ clothes based on the comments and complaints she’s heard about what is currently available.
– inappropriate prints
– short life span (esp girls clothes)
– adult styles, often sexualising children

Instead she is focusing on creating longer wearing, pretty clothing appropriate to children & play, with out the common sexual elements. She uses natural fabrics, avoiding poleyester, so that the clothes allow children to play,  be active and sweat without discomfort. She especially loves using the South African cotton prints such as Shweshwe. The childrens clothes are not yet launched, but i will let you know when they become available on Etsy. Everything will be hand made to her exacting standards, mostly as one offs.

I look forward to posting pics & reviewing these items next year.

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