REGINA — Danine Schlosser loves to design. Fashions. Jewelry. Fascinators. She makes them all.
Schlosser is the creative force behind Regina-based Câ€™est Danine Designs. Over the past eight years, her home-based business has increased significantly as a result of the booming local economy.
â€œThe demand is definitely here,â€? said the 36-year-old designer. â€œItâ€™s very exciting.â€?
â€œYouâ€™ve got to love what you do,â€? Schlosser insisted. â€œOr at the end of the day, itâ€™s just becomes a job. It shows, I think, in what I do.â€?
Schlosser is forever trying something new. When she found herself with bridal gowns and bridesmaids dresses that needed jewelry, she recalled thinking: â€œHow hard could it be to learn how to do it?â€?
â€œSo, voila, now we do jewelry!â€? she said. â€œItâ€™s kind of nice, because sometimes you canâ€™t find co-ordinating things. And itâ€™s kind of fun.â€?
Her introduction to creating fascinators â€” a headpiece designed to be attached to the hair in lieu of a hat â€” happened much the same way.
A certain royal wedding was her inspiration. When Schlosser and her aunt decided to attend a tea at the Hotel Saskatchewan to celebrate the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, they decided fascinators were a fashion must-have for the event. So they made their own.
Others liked them so much that Schlosser decided to market a line of fascinators. Theyâ€™re available at several Regina boutiques. And a catalogue showcasing fascinators by Câ€™est Danine Designs â€” which include everything from small flowers to elaborate feather creations â€” was recently produced to attract orders from retailers nationally. Prices range from $30 to $150.
â€œWeâ€™ve had lots of good response,â€? Schlosser said.
â€œI just love them,â€? she said. â€œFor me, the bigger the better.â€?
Schlosser has made a habit of wearing fascinators to church. And when she doesnâ€™t, other parishoners notice, she said. â€œI have quite a following.â€?
These days, Schlosser is busy working on designs for her May 10th runway show at Saskatchewan Fashion Week (SFW).
â€œIâ€™ll have 22 pieces,â€? she said. â€œI would have liked to have 25, but they cut me off â€¦ I figure if Iâ€™m going to be there, I might as well give them bang for their buck.â€?
â€œIâ€™m excited!â€? the bubbly designer exclaimed. â€œItâ€™s kind of fun when you get to be creative like that.â€?
Of her 22 SFW designs, five will be wedding gowns. Thatâ€™s because bridal fashions have become Schlosserâ€™s forte.
Her wedding gowns average $800 to $900. But if thereâ€™s extensive bead work, the price could be in the thousands.
Schlosser pulled a photo from her basement design studio bulletin board featuring a wedding gown with an elaborately beaded bodice.
â€œI did 282 hours of beading on this one,â€? she said.
How much did she charge? Definitely not enough, Schlosser insisted with a laugh. While the bride was only asked to pay a couple of thousand dollars, the gown was actually worth about $10,000, she said.
â€œBut thatâ€™s OK. At the end of the day, you do it for your love (of it),â€? she said.
Clients generally have very definite ideas of what they want when they commission Schlosser. For example, one woman wanted a wedding dress like one worn by Julia Roberts in the movie Runaway Bride. Another wanted a vibrant red wedding gown. Schlosserâ€™s grad dress designs have included everything from a Wonder Woman dress to a Cinderella-style gown.
â€œThey push the limit. And I love that. Because it makes you create,â€? she said.
Custom designs provide an opportunity for clients to get exactly what they want, and to watch the process. â€œTo see it start from nothing, to seeing me have the pattern here, to see it in the fitting; you realize whatâ€™s involved.â€?
â€œItâ€™s all about what they want,â€? Schlosser said. â€œItâ€™s their dream, not mine.â€?
The bond that develops with clients often blossoms, Schlosser said. â€œThey become a friend. Itâ€™s great.â€?
She has designed wedding gowns, then had the client return down the road for a christening gown
Turnaround time for a custom design is about a month â€” three to four fittings, she estimated. But sheâ€™s done them as quickly as one night. â€œBut I donâ€™t like to do that,â€? Schlosser stressed. â€œItâ€™s quite a challenge.â€?
Schlosser is the designer for Câ€™est Danine Designs. She got her fashion training in Montreal, taking a two-year course at the International Academy of Fashion Design and Merchandising.
Schlosserâ€™s mother does the sewing for the label.
â€œSheâ€™s always done that. Weâ€™re a pretty good team,â€? Schlosser said. â€œSheâ€™s self-taught. Sheâ€™s just always loved to sew.â€?
Schlosser said she loves working side-by-side with her mom.
â€œWe do everything together. We buy fabric together. We work together,â€?she said.
Other members of her family also contibute to Câ€™est Danine Designs. For example, Schlosserâ€™s father goes along on fabric-buying trips, often negotiating deals. And her brother provides his graphic design expertise.
For Schlosser, inspiration comes from within. Instead of starting with a design and then finding a suitable fabric, she searches for interesting fabrics that speak to her, then creates.
â€œFor me, itâ€™s all about the fabric â€¦ I just like to play with the fabric and let it tell me what it wants to do,â€? she explained. â€œI guess I do things differently than most. But it works for me.â€?
â€œI like to let the design sort of speak for itself,â€? Schlosser said. â€œTo me, itâ€™s classic. Itâ€™s not necessarily trendy.â€?
â€œI love my job,â€? she repeated. â€œAnd now, being part of Saskatchewan Fashion Week is just the icing on the cake for being creative.â€?
For more information about Schlosserâ€™s designs, visit www.cestdaninedesigns.com or call 352-6430.
Follow Irene Seiberling on Twitter at @ISeiberling