Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Designer Q&A: Catrin Watkins, maggie + me

Welsh designer Catrin Watkins
At a young age, Catrin Watkins found her calling: she was going to be a fashion designer. The enchanting tale that follows is one of family inspiration, overcoming serious health issues and developing the skills that would one day mould the girl from Penyrheol into one of the most successful designers to come out of Wales in recent years.

Catrin’s label, maggie + me, is built on the love of design that she shares with - and was nurtured by - her grandmother Maggie, herself an accomplished seamstress. Maggie + me provides unique style mixed with catwalk trends and sprinkled with the accessibility that has led to the garments being stocked in high street department stores across the world.

Chic and Cheerful caught up with Catrin to talk Welsh influences and how to start a label just ahead of the launch of the maggie + me Autumn/Winter 2011 collection.

C&C: Had you always intended to set up a label?
Catrin: It was always a dream to set up the label but I wanted to gain experience in the industry first so I was prepared for what it entailed. From a very young age, being surrounded by patterns and learning to sew with my grandmother gave me a keen interest [in fashion design] and a foundation to be creative.

C&C: How did you come up with the maggie + me concept?
Catrin: I wanted to create a label that was more of a mind-set than about age. The main inspiration was my grandmother as she taught me a lot and it seemed the right name for the label. She was overjoyed and proud that I named it after her.

C&C: How long did it take to prepare the first collection?
Catrin: It took about three months to prepare the first collection, with a lot of time spent abroad sourcing fabrics and trims to create the desired look. It was hard work but I had faith that the outcome would be positive and now the collection is growing every season. I’m constantly designing to push the collection aesthetic and to ensure the brand evolves.

C&C: Tell us about the inspirations behind your latest collection.
Catrin: Focussing on attention to detail and up to the minute trend forecasting, all of the collections offer a unique style statement combined with catwalk trends. Autumn/Winter 2011 explores the brand’s sophisticated and versatile side, with a range encompassing chic dresses, sharp tailoring, cosy knits and outerwear.

C&C: How has growing up in Wales and Welsh fashion culture influenced your work?
Catrin: Growing up in Wales was great but back then there were not so many options for shopping as there are now and my grandmother would make a lot of my clothes. One thing it influenced me was to be comfortable in my own style: it showed me to be true to myself and that you do not always have to follow the crowds.

C&C: How does your style now compare with what you design?
Catrin: My style is very similar to maggie + me designs. I love understated designs, chic yet with an edge that is easily able to go from day to night.

C&C: What advice can you offer aspiring designers?
Catrin: You need to live and breathe fashion. Work hard, study and get experience. In terms of your design approach, keep true to yourself.

See more of the gorgeous AW11/12 'love me' collection and find out where you can buy maggie + me.

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