Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An Interview with Caroline Baker {Maude Couture Eco-Fashion}

Hello lovely readers! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Today, I am really excited to share with you an interview with Caroline Baker, the gal behind Maude Couture. This girl has got some serious style, talent, and she's also a mommy of two, so I know she's got some serious work ethic. She creates one of a kind bridal gowns, along with an array of other fashion apparel, using organic and sustainable fabrics. I owe a big thank you to Katie Kern, who is producing the Charleston Eco-Fashion Event, for introducing me to Caroline. (You'll find a few of my own comments in italics below.)

1. Where did the inspiration for Maude Couture come from?

At the risk of sounding cliché, Maude Couture was inspired by a childhood in the woods and waters of the Lowcountry…and especially by my grandmothers. Maude and Dot inspired my love of sewing, design, tailoring, vintage and purpose. They provided endless supplies and praise to foster the imagination; and their love & consistency will always be my inspiration. (Jen here. I love this - what a beautiful way to carry on your grandmother's love and knowledge.)

2. What eco-fabrics do you use? What fabrics suit which body shape best?

I am always looking for ways to innovate my fabric choices. It took me years to find my current maude couture favorites: organic cotton linen, hemp cotton blends, Hempcel and an amazing hemp/silk charmeuse. The hemp silk charmeuse is my baby. It is shiny on one side and slightly nubby on
the other. The shiny side is very luxurious, playful and perfect for those who want to highlight their curves. The matte side is understated, elegant and a great selection for minimization. I also just started repurposing vintage & discarded textiles (i.e. vintage sheets, retro table clothes, etc.) into clothing in my REmaudeALL line; and I am brainstorming on the best way to repurpose pre-loved clothing as well. I am obsessed with innovating my idea of recycling. (A dress made from a retro-table cloth? How awesome would that be?!)

3. I noticed you take a great joy in 
 "upcycling" vintage and dated dresses into something completely new. Do you have any stories you'd like to share about other brides who have done this?

Yes, all of them! I really respect a girl with the vision & trust to take something they would not normally wear and faithfully await the resurrection of their wedding gown from that piece. I am impressed by these brides! Couture and upcycling is not for everyone and I value the girl who can take a risk to get exactly what she wants. Getting married is stressful and I feel very connected to the brides who are willing to face the uncertainty of choosing couture. I think it speaks highly of their personal character.

And, yes, the first upcyling wedding gown I did was for a friend. Her mother’s dress was WAY too short and several sizes too small. It was lace overlaid on a fabric I never could determine and both bad to be perfectly matched. In construction terms it was more or a near tear down than a remodel. In the end, only two darts remained untouched on the dress. However, I used EVERY
part of the old dress and the new dress FELT exactly like the modern version of the vintage dress. It was a beautiful & natural metamorphosis; we opened up the back, restored all of the old lace and added new lace for length. I used appliqués from the old lace on the new lace and vice versa to get a seamless transition on the hem and a re-beaded all of the lace. It was truly a labor of love. I probably made about twenty-five cents an hour on that dress, but totally worth it! (Sounds incredibly tedious, but I bet your friend is forever grateful.)

4. If you could give a fortune cookie to every bride who wore one of your dresses, what would it say?

What a great question! I try not to give advice to my brides, but I am such a mom that I cannot really help it… I tell them to concentrate on the marriage and not the wedding; to keep their eye on the prize (at the end you get your husband…and a great vacation); and to stop during the reception,
mentally hit “pause,” and look around at the people there to love and support your marriage. What I wish I had the nerve to say, and maybe a fortune cookie is the way to do it, is that if you make Jesus the center of your marriage, nothing else will ever come between you…but I am pretty chicken! (Okay, I'll admit I'm not the most religious person, but I have total respect for those who are. I bet you have many clients who would love to hear this, but I admit it can be tricky bringing up anything with Jesus or God.)

 5. How does Maude Couture maintain environmentally ever responsible business practices?

I try so hard! Of course, I am as paperless as possible and try to recycle everything…I print on both sides of the paper. I print on my junk mail. I donate all my tiny treasure/trims to my daughter’s art class. Anything big enough to be re-used for something else is repurposed or donated. I buy
recycled business cards and office supplies. I make list and take notes on my phone. I try to give organic or “green” favors. I use eco light bulb and keep unneeded lights & things off. I buy locally as much as possible. I use local seamstresses. I donate to green charities. I speak to schools on living eco-chic. I shop “green” businesses first. I use vinegar to clean and eco-detergents for my fabrics. I consolidate my errands by areas to reduce driving (or ride my bike when I can). I work from my home studio and try to limit production to orders (avoid access inventory). I do my best to use as much recycled, organic and “pre-owned” as possible and strive to have an eye out for ways to improve. (Bravo, Caroline! Bravo!)

6. What are your favorite wedding day colors?

Green, of course! Really, I am obsessed with this topaz blue. It looks great on everyone! It is fresh, timeless and modern. It looks new in spring, refreshing in summer, crisp in the fall and icy in the winter. It is youthful and flirtatious, yet elegant and sophisticated.

Thank you, Caroline, for taking the time to answer all my (somewhat weird) questions! I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you and I hope my readers have to. Don't forget to check out Maude Couture - we've added her to the Eco and Elsie Eco-Shops page! She's also going to be at the Eco-Fashion Event in Charleston!


Katy said...

Can't wait to own a Maude Couture piece one day. Also perfect way to incorporate faith by being personal and important but never pushy, so Caroline :)

Jenny said...

The first dress looks really beautiful...Love love love!!!

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