One of the glories of the Edwardian Ball is meeting brilliant like-minded people... such as the stunning and incredibly talented Calamity Lulu of Quaintrelle Couture, who I lured to my booth with 80% dark chocolate.
And what, you will ask, is a quaintrelle? On her Web site, Lulu quotes Wikipedia: a woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and the cultivation of Life’s pleasures... Dear readers, imagine my pleasure upon finding that a word existed that so splendidly summed up my tendencies! I immediately knew Lulu was a woman after my own heart, and was delighted that she agreed to share some more about her work here.
How would you describe yourself and your style of work?
Frippery as philosophy. Fabric-based alchemy without any gold -- not in the sense of money or colour, but rather, the narrow mindset of boiling down elements for a highly specific and defined objective. In alchemy they say the Masterwork is achieved only when the alchemist forgets about gold and loses himself and his aim in the purification process. When I design, I usually don't have any picture in my head when I put the pencil to paper, and I try not to get caught up doing one style--I don't want to make variations of the same piece over and over again, so my "style" is chameleonic and as mercurial as I am. Fashion for shapeshifters.
Where do you find inspiration?
The usual suspects: history, architecture, the human form, but I'd say my number one inspiration is the material itself. I frequently feel like fabric has an intent of its own, as if it knows what it wants to be when it grows up, so I try to listen to its little whispers. (I see fabric fulfilling its destiny in Adornments for Tarts, so I think you intuitively do this too!)
What do you do besides design amazing clothes?
Ballroom dance, burlesque, travel, psychological treatises, study foreign languages.
What are three things that please you the most in the world, and why?
Fabric. I'm a sensual hedonist, and I can't even begin to explain the joy of a beautiful silk, velvet, wool, or linen on skin. A truly perverted fabricphile, I even like to smell it. The smell of silk: mmm.
Books and intellectually stimulating conversations, because I am a nerd. A big, fancy nerd.
I lack a precise word for the third, and perhaps most significant, thing that pleases me (undoubtedly the Germans have the perfect one). Art, perhaps, because it involves creation; and also the kind of passion that leads to meticulous attention to detail and perfection of one's craft; or love, because it has to do with developing one's sense of joy without root in attachment to stagnant things; or learning, perhaps, because it involves the evolution of the mind... that's it: I'll use Evolution. Nothing pleases me more in this world than evolution -- feeling myself evolve and seeing others evolve.
How did you get your start making clothes?
I was born a quaintrelle. From the time I could hold a crayon, I would almost exclusively draw women in fancy dresses, and would always design some monstrously complicated costume for Halloween months in advance and give it to my mother, an accomplished seamstress herself, to make for me. She'd take my drawing and move a seam somewhere more convenient, and I'd take the drawing and move the seam right back, so she decided I should learn myself pretty early on. I had my first machine -- a child's Singer with only one function -- at the age of six, and being an independent little chit, I worked things out more or less for myself over the years.
What piece of work are you most proud of?
I'm a ghastly perfectionist, so I always feel like my work could be better! I am a little proud of the stomacher I made for my silk mantua -- raw silk, gathered in three rows, embellished with organza trim of a delicate fawn colour (though it looks rather pink in the photo), beaded all over and with cording couched with decorative crosses in silver embroidery floss. On the mantua, which is as lovely sage green with a baroque acanthus print in gold, it has a look that's both opulent and organic.
Where can we find your line?
For the moment, exclusively through my website by commission. I haven't quite been won over to the idea of prêt-à-porter, since absolutely nothing makes someone feel as luxuriously well-dressed as a custom-tailored garment, but I'd like to offer at least ready jewelery or accessories on my website -- once I find time to set it all up!
Thank you, Lulu, for sharing your inspiring vision and your delectable creations... and this quaintrelle is looking forward to seeing more from you!