Confessions of a Fashion Designer

Thanks for sending in your Cherry Velvet questions! We caught up with Diane as she opened up about what she's doing next, her process and her take on the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. 

A drawing of Cherry Velvet designer Diane Kennedy with the caption ask Diane

I have a lot of trouble doing up the zippers in the back of the dresses. Would you ever consider changing your zipper to have a pull that would allow the use of a zipper helper?

Great question. I'm so glad a few of you brought this to my attention. I've always cheated and pulled the dresses over my head without ever undoing the zipper. (as a plus size this is possible, but not for the smaller sizes) So going forward I've changed the zipper we're using away from the invisible style zipper. The tiny pull does not allow the attachment of a ribbon or hook to help with doing up the zipper. So starting with our next dress, the Olivia, most of our dresses will come with this new exposed zipper that allows for the attachment of a longer zipper pull. I want getting dressed to be easier for you!

What trends do you follow when picking prints?

As a dress company inspired by vintage dress designs, I admit we really don't follow a lot of trends. Every season I comb through the fabrics offered by a multitude of fabric companies in search of the prints that I think you will love to wear. Lately, I've found a beautiful 70's inspired floral, and as 70's fashion has seen a resurgence in the past year or two, that's probably the closest we get to a 'trend'.

Do you follow colour trends? Is that a byproduct of fabric trends?

Again I have to say, I don't really follow colour trends much. Perennially popular are black dresses with bright prints. I do try to keep a nice assortment for all of you with colours like red, blue, aqua, purple and the occasional green. Less often you'll see colours like pink, orange or yellow, even though I truly love these colours. Right now I'm considering a print with a goldenrod yellow background.

Are you the only designer or is there a design team?

I am the only designer, however my staff does provide feedback and input on choosing new fabrics. I did have an assistant designer a while back, but she left on maternity leave and I have not replaced her.

When will the Vanessa dress come back in stock? I am looking to update my wardrobe with dresses that cover the chest area a bit more.

Thanks for your feedback. I agree the Vanessa was a great style, however it was hard for the factory to sew the tip of the V neck accurately and I was not 100% satisfied with the result. Hence I decided to discontinue this style. There is going to be an updated version called Jacqueline that will be loosely based on the Vanessa but with a change to the neckline design.

I think you will like the Olivia, this classic dress is suitable for work as it covers the chest nicely. I had planned to cut this new style weeks ago but, unfortunately there have been two unforeseen delays with the fabric. The Olivia dress is in production now and I'll have this one for you very soon in 6 lovely prints.

Do you make any styles that are longer?

This is a question we get asked a lot. I would love to make a few dresses that are longer, but the reality is that takes a lot more fabric to do that. The cotton we use is very narrow, only 42" wide, so making longer dresses really adds to the cost of the dress. I did make a style that is longer called the Waterfront dress and it comes in 4 beautiful prints here.

Have you watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? Did any of the dress styles in it inspire you?

I ordered Prime just so I could watch Mrs. Maisel. I was not disappointed, the clothing was fabulous! There was an adorable stripe dress that caught my eye later on in the season. I'm always looking for a stripe fabric that's just right to make a sundress. I did find one for Spring that's inspired by the bands on vintage Pyrex kitchenware. Making a stripe dress offers unique challenges but the results can really be striking. Besides her dresses, I was enamoured with her coat wardrobe! Just WOW. So many beautifully cut and tailored coats and those beautiful bright colours!

Marlesous Mrs. Maisel wearing a striped sundress

I would love to know what the process is for when you make a new dress design. Are there special ladies that inspire you and you create a dress that you feel is "them"? I ask because I have noted that all your dress designs are ladies names.

I confess that usually I have an idea of a dress I'd like to wear myself and I go ahead and make it happen. Sometimes I see a photo of a dress that inspires me that was worn by a famous star like Marilyn or Dita. Or I imagine one of my girlfriends or customers that I think would look amazing in my design. I am absolutely inspired by the female figure. It's so important to me that my dresses really look good and flatter a women's curves. Not much makes me happier than seeing my ladies looking and feeling amazing in my dresses.

I really love the Marie dress with the zipper in the front. Will you ever make any other front zip styles?

As a matter of fact, I'm planning a sleeveless style with a front zipper in the Spring. I'm guessing it'll show up around March as long as the fabric fairies are on our side and the Spring fabrics arrive in a timely manner.

Cherry Velvet Dress designer Diane Kennedy standing in her office wearing a dress of her own design

How do you encourage/support your creative spirit during this pandemic?

Other than slowing down a bit mostly due to delays with the fabric supply, really my creative drive is still strong. I truly love my job and so it's not like work to me. I love to look through fabrics and plan what's coming next. The pandemic has impacted my social life far more than my creativity. If anything, the slower pace has encouraged more time to be creative. I have new dresses and prints already planned into next summer.

How do you measure for the varying sizes when making dresses? (Some companies are so off)

When I make a dress pattern for the first time I start with a block which is the technical term for a base pattern. By reusing the same base pattern each time it allows for more continuity of fit. In the final result there will be some variation in the fit between styles, but that does allow for the variation that happens naturally between women's bodies. There are other natural variations that occur with fit, for example if the fabric changes, the fit can also change. After the pattern is finalized the grading rules are applied to create the other sizes. This means the pattern grows and shrinks from one size to another by the same amount no matter the dress style. 

What are your top 5 favourite Cherry Velvet dresses ever?

Oh well, that's easy and hard to answer at the same time. Often my favourite dress is the one I'm currently wearing! My all time favourite dress is the Norma, I just love how it enhances the feminine figure. My favourite Norma prints are Unhappy Hour and Santas in Space; both amazingly artistic and special prints. My next favourite dress is Doris, because I love the cut of this style around the bust. My favourite Doris print is Enchanted garden, it's a spectacular large scale floral in shades of pinks, blues, purple and jade. The Shelly dress is another  favourite named after my girlfriend Shelly and my favourite print is called Party dot. It was black with vintage coloured dots. A classic! The Brigitte in the Camera print will forever be my favourite sundress. I love the shorter length (I'm short) and the open keyhole back detail. *Please note none of the prints I've mentioned are still available

What is your inspiration for choosing new prints for each season?

Customer requests are often my motivation for looking for new prints. I also might look for a colour we haven't had for a while. But mostly I just look for the the coolest, the most beautiful and unique prints that I can find that I think are worthy of becoming a Cherry Velvet dress. Last year when we did a survey the top requests were dinosaur prints and florals. So I've been looking hard to find these prints for you. You might have noticed our amazing "Dino-might" glow in the dark print, and there is another Dinosaur print coming very early next Spring. Also, I've found lots of beautiful florals for Spring and can't wait to show them to you.

Thanks again for sending in your questions!

We're always happy to hear your opinions, suggestions and feedback. Feel free to send in your comments anytime!

XOX Diane

Comments

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing