Interview with Fantasy-Fashion Designer Kathleen Guérisse
Kathleen Guérisse is a young fantasy-fashion designer from Belgium. She’s an incredible artist, so let’s get to know her a little better with this interview.
Make sure to read until the end to get valuable sewing tips and inspiration too :)
Last year I had my first collaboration with a fantasy-fashion designer! Kathleen of Général Guérisse and we enjoyed a lot working together for the pleasure to get both: amazing pictures of her wonderful designs.
First of, let’s have an overview of you and your designer work!
At which age did you start sewing, and what did drive you there?
I started sewing at the age of 18. Since I was a child, I love drawing every day. At the age of 15, I started to think: “what can I do as a job later with my passion of draw?” I made a list on a paper and I don’t know how it came, but I wrote "fashion designer" I never thought about that before!
During the following 3 years, I thought about that and I made sure it was my choice of studies.
At 18, I went to Brussels to follow 3 years of fashion designing with the old sewing machine of my passed away grandfather! I didn’t know how to sew but I was able to draw not that bad and I wanted to learn a lot!
You could have sewn anything, so why exactly fantasy-fashion?
During my studies, I was young. I didn’t think about what could be my identity in the fashion world. I was still searching who I was.
So I made my collection at the end of the year, the theme was of Hip-Hop! It is so far from what I am doing right now! But I still love Hip-Hop and I am wearing sportswear/Urbanwear style myself. Days after days, I made a research about the history of fashion so I can see what makes my heart beats. I was not a fan of minimalism, not at all!
I fell in love especially with the work of one fashion designer: John Galliano! All is wonderful: the clothes of course but the makeups, hairstyles... so extravagant and spectacular!
I wanted to take a little bit from him if I could. Obviously, I cannot be at this level because I work alone and the financial investment is not always possible.
"My goal is to bring dreams in this life because this is something everybody needs." Kathleen Guérisse
Do your creations run on catwalks? If yes, tell us more about!
The designs that are part of a collection do run on a catwalk yes!
I have the big luck to present my collection once a year at a big event: The Lux Fashion Week in Arlon.
I had the opportunity to show my work when this fashion event was created back in 2015. I was so nervous! I never did a real collection and I never took sewing courses (we, unfortunately, didn’t have sewing lessons at school) and I didn’t know how I would do it.
I was working full time as a manager assistant at a one hour’s drive from my home so the time was counted! In the end, I was so exhausted but it was a wonderful experience.
Each year I created a new collection for this event and it is thanks to this opportunity I started to be a little bit seen in my area! My Facebook page started to grow, grow and grow!
My collection is each year a big challenge for me, I know I have to work for 6 months non stop at nights and weekends but this feeling when your designs appear on the catwalk is unbelievable!!
How long does it take to design and sew one of your creations?
This is a question I was asked a lot of time but I cannot really answer! I work most of the time when I back from work depending on my energy I can work 4 hours or 1 and in the weekends, it already happened I sewed more than 30 hours in 2 days!! I never counted how long it took me so I cannot say and some of the designs are more time consuming than others.
How do you keep yourself inspired?
It is not difficult now with the internet to stay inspired: apps like Pinterest are really awesome! But I can be inspired by everything: a film, a piece of music, a landscape, but most of the time I am inspired by the fabric I will work with. And I have artists I like a lot that help me to stay creative: John Galliano of course, Tim Burton and a lot of artists I am following on Facebook.
Let’s carry on with inspiration about her “Kali-Dress” - My absolutely favourite one!
Kathleen, where did your inspiration for the Kali-Dress come from?
My parents decided that at the age of 18, they will make a big travel together and I can choose the destination. My sister went to Indonesia and the other one to Nepal.
I have always dreamt to go to India to visit the Taj Mahal so this was my choice!
It was a wonderful experience! So wonderful that I went another time more to this country.
In India, most of the people are hinduists. Kali is the war/death goddess: she is dressed in red and gold with a black skin. Very terrifying!
I have kept the same colors for my designs and tried to turn it into something dramatic.
I took several and different styled pictures of this creation. What I love the most about is definitely that kind of futuristic charm of the dress. It could fit a princess of another, alien world.
When I look at Kathleen’s Instagram and Facebook feed, there are so many amazing photographers and models, and all we can pinpoint are the extraordinary ways her dresses are interpreted.
A model, a location, a photographer’s style can change pretty anything of a dress. It will always look slightly different and that’s so fascinating! So let’s have a look of the same Kali-Dress with different models and other photographers too!
First Picture by: Photographer: Axe Photography [Ruslan Bolgov] Model: Emilija Budginaitė MUAH: Ausra Agintaite Second Picture by: Photographer: Anjelica Hyde [Lucy Brown] Model: Miss Deadly Red Headpiece: @Revivify_2018 Third Picture by Photographer: Photography der Sinne Model: Martina Pizzinini MakeUp: Mendy Lezuo Fourth Picture by Photographer: Photography der Sinne Model & MakeUp: @helter.ske Fourth Picture, Model, Makeup by Photography der Sinne
We would love to hear why you love to collaborate with photographers across Europe too! Tell us what fascinates you the most about other artists. :)
I am really passionate about fashion and fairytales! I am so happy my work can travel and take part of beautiful projects. This is something amazing to connect with other creatives all around the world and if I can help a little bit to create dreamy things with my art, why not?
When it is the time to receive the final pictures after some waiting, I feel like a little girl so excited!!! I feel so blessed.
Maybe someone is wondering: Are you doing bespoke orders, wedding gowns or anything that’s not about fantasy-fashion?
I also make bespoke designs for customers (for wedding, a particular event,...) that I just show in pictures on my websites. I can work on classical projects too. What I like in bespoke orders more than the final designs is the contact with the customer. This is a real adventure!
To end this blog post, let us give some useful tips for cosplayers and larpers that want to start fantasy-fashion projects on their own.
Are there any books, guides or online-courses for dummies about (fantasy) sewing you could recommend?
Unfortunately, I won’t be a good help for that. I used to learn on my own by trying and trying again and again! When I started more than 10 years ago, the internet was not so easy to have and I didn’t take the habit to search on the web.
What “equipment” would you recommend to start sewing?
To start and maybe to first see if you like sewing, you will need a sewing machine (a second-hand one or a new one not too expensive/150-200 €), some needles, threads but for those, I will recommend buying a good mark like Gütermann to avoid some problems with your machine, some pieces of fabric to train yourself. It can be good to buy a book with easy projects or find tutorials on the internet. The main thing when you start is to sew, sew, sew every day even if you don’t succeed at the start.
From which part of a garment piece would you recommend starting?
I recommend starting with easier projects like a small bag for example!
Are there specific fabrics you recommend for starting?
The non-stretch & not too thin fabrics are easier like cotton.
Is there anything motivating you would say to anyone that starts sewing?
Never give up! I cannot count how many things I failed how many yards of fabrics I ruined! But I keep on sewing and days after days it goes better and better!
If Kathleen could excite some curiosity in you, you can visit her website http://www.generalguerisse.com/ and see more awesome creations or follow her on Instagram or Facebook too! Don’t forget that if her gowns inspire you, you can rent them for a real photoshoot to make your dreams come true! Just contact Kathleen or me, Photography der Sinne :)
Photo credits of Gallery - from left to right:
Photographer: Sonja Saur Photography Model: Tuyet My MUA: Ann-Kathrin Benoist Photographer: Rhiannon Laite Photography Model: Heather-Rose Andrews Masque: Patine Noire Photographer: Pandemicum Photo Edit: Savra Photography Model: Asia Urzędowska Headpiece: Savra Headpieces Wig: Black Candy Fashion Photographer: Lucy Brown Model: Miss.Deadly.Red
Photographer: Emmaarian still.photography Model: Aryanne Morth MUA: Candy Gun - Makeup & Modeling Headpiece: Cyas Necklace: Martel & Enclume Photographer: Axe Photography [Ruslan Bolgov] Model/MUAH: Ausra Agintaite