This week I am very excited to be interviewing the supremely talented Kate and Anne of Dress Art Mystery! These two amazing ladies and their team are among some of the most talented people I have ever encountered and I can’t wait to share this interview with all of you!
Tell us about your business, Dress Art Mystery!
Anna: We are a workshop that is engaged in making historical and fantasy costumes.
Kate: It’s not so much historical, as imaginative, we create an image. It can be clothing based on historical dresses, costumes from movies, our own sketches of both customers and ours when we develop an image for clients.
When did you start your business? What inspired you to start it and what excites you about your work?
Kate: We decided to open Dress Art Mystery store in the fall of 2014. We were looking for a room for work and project implementation opportunities. The very opening occurred on January 18, 2015. We consider this date as the birthday of our store.
Sewing has been my additional income since 1999. I started doing this professionally in 2009. Since that time, making costumes has become my main income. Until 2009 I worked in the IT field, but my head was swarmed by a bunch of images that wanted to be created. The decision to go completely to my favorite occupation was not easy, I understood the risks perfectly. Nevertheless, I decided to try and this transition went quite smoothly. There were hard times, but we are doing it because we love this business and it inspires us.
What is your process? What tools do you like using? Where do you do your work? Can you walk us through a day in your life with your business?
Anna: We have our own workshop, where we do all the work. We have a small friendly team. Everyone has a workplace. In our creation we use a lot of things, from a sewing machine to anything. =)
Kate: Depending on the image that we are developing, we can use both the usual tools and at first sight things are not suitable for sewing at first sight – tools for working with metal, wood,drilling machine, paints, brushes and so on.
Each member of the team has his own tasks. Anna and I develop the design. Anna also communicates with customers, keeps records and purchases of fabrics and other materials. Me and the girls are engaged in different stages of tailoring. Someone is better at embroidering, someone is a specialist at the seams. So every member of our team has a specialization.
What do you love the most about your business?
Anna: The process of creating something new. Incarnation of interesting ideas into reality.
Kate: It’s interesting to do it for someone. Everything is clear with my images in my head. On the other hand, the client may have a different vision, a new idea. And in the process of working on the idea of the client I get a new experience that I would not have received if I worked on my ideas. It is very interesting.
What is it that draws you to creating historical fashion?
Kate: Cut. Modern cut is standardized. It is made so that things fit comfortably on people of different build. Historical cut implies a very accurate fit. It takes into account the individuality of the figure. It won’t work for mass production. And that attracts me – the task of how to make the bodice of the dress fit very tightly around the figure, pulling the waist, but at the same time make it so that the girl could freely raise her hand. It is impossible with modern cut in contrast to the historical cut. And I like this game with the structure of historical costumes.
Anna: I like to follow the development of costumes over time in the historical fashion. More precisely, their change from era to era. Each new style follows from the previous one with the addition of some elements. And it’s very interesting to observe this changes.
How do you get inspiration for your gorgeous historical costumes?
Both: We use the whole history. =)
Anna: These can be paintings, historical tapestries, places, historical TV series, museum exhibits, books.
Do you aim for historical accuracy in your costumes?
Kate: Actually, we don’t. I do not relate myself to reenactors who want to do everything exactly as it was once. I am one of those who are inspired by an idea or element and want to make something my own. We create costumes with our own decor, unite different elements of one era into a new image. It’s a kind of collective image that will fit into the era, but will not be an exact copy of something.
When did you begin sewing?
Kate: When I was five. =) But I was 11 when I sewed something using an electric sewing machine for the first time. It was a toy penguin.
Anna: My first sewing experience was at school, we had classes where we were engaged in sewing. It was a very unpleasant experience. And then I went back to sewing in 2008 or 2009. And since that time I have been doing this for living.
Kate: I’ve been taking clothing design classes since I was 15. I already knew that I was interested in this at that time.
What started your love of vintage and historical styles?
Anna: True, the same for me.
Kate: These were children’s tales, Disney cartoons.
How would you describe your own style?
Kate: That’s a difficult question.
If we are talking about the style of Dress Art Mystery, then we can not say that we have a shop with only historical costumes. We have a lot of fantasy costumes based on historical dresses. Elven dresses are based on historical dresses of 12-13 century. The design of the Snow White dress is based on the dresses of the Reformation era. We say that all of our fantasy dresses have a historical basis. We aim to create a beautiful fairy tale for a modern woman who wants to feel like a fairy-tale character or a heroine of an historical novel. So maybe we could describe our style as “Historical Fantasy.”
Who or what is your personal vintage or historical style inspiration?
Anna: When I was a child, I saw Jean Paul Gaultier’s fashion show on TV. There was a wonderful green dress, which I thought was very elven at that moment, now I do not remember it so well, but at that moment I wanted to do something like that. This dress impressed me so much that it influenced my life in choosing a job.
Kate: If we speak about designers – we can make a whole list of names. Speaking of periods – these are the eras themselves. Each and everyone inspires in its own way.
What is your favorite era for historical fashion?
Kate: This question can be relevant at some particular moment. Favorite era is changing. At first the 15th century was interesting. Then the 18th century. Now it’s 70s of the 19th century.
Anna: At the moment it’s the end of the Belle Époque, which transforms into the era of the Great Gatsby.
What is your favorite thing about historical fashion?
Tell us about yourselves!
Kate: We made a job out of our hobbies. So basically everything comes down to work =)
What do you do in your free time?
Kate: Working =)
Anna: Dancing, books, movies, travel. All within the usual hobbies.
Kate: I’m into drawing and I’m also like dancing.
Do you have any words of advice for someone who might be thinking of starting their own business, whether it be in vintage, historical clothing or any other creative field?
Anna: Just do it!
Kate: You need to do this only if you really want to. If it gives you pleasure at all stages, then it is worth doing. Errors and problems are unavoidable. But it is the pleasure of your favorite occupation that helps to keep going.
Do you have anything special you would like to promote to my readers?
Kate: Soon we are going to create a collection of clothes in casual style, but with elements of historical or fantasy. We would like to create our own models of clothes that could be worn to work, going to a restaurant, for a walk, but with interesting details. This is the task of our next year. So, if there are people who want to order something like this from us and maybe have their ideas – we are waiting for them =)
Where can we find you online?
Thank you so much, Kate and Anna, for allowing me to interview you both and for taking the time out of your incredibly busy schedules to answer my questions! It has been absolutely wonderful getting to know more about both of you and your amazing work!
I hope you all enjoyed this interview with Kate and Anna! Aren’t their garments just jaw-droppingly gorgeous? When I first discovered their shop last summer I was just floored by their talent – I can only hope to have a pinky finger’s worth of their skill one day!
If there is anyone you would like to see interviewed here, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my very best! 🙂
All images featured in this interview used with kind permission from Kate and Anna of Dress Art Mystery.