Katie Curran is an amazing textiles designer whose designs and bridal pieces have captured the hearts of so many. Katie studied Fashion Textile Design at University of Brighton and then went on to work all over the world from New York to London before finally launching Eliza Vale in 2011. And I have been a fan since her launch and am delighted to be featuring her work today.
What made you decide to take design as a serious career path?
Well design has been part of my life since as far back as I can remember. I had an octopus drawing full of pattern and colour on Tony Hart on TV if you remember that programme?? Then I joined a Young Textile Group at about age 7 and started doing embroidery, rag-rugging, felting and all kinds of different textiles techniques. I chose GCSE Textiles and spent all my breaks and lunchtimes in the sewing room (geek!!) but i loved it and knew then that this is what i really wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I went on to study Fashion Textiles with business at University of Brighton and was lucky enough to earn a placement in Como Italy for 4 months and NYC. As an intern I sold so many deigns for the company that they asked me to come back when I graduated so I returned for another 3 years……
Can you please talk to us a little about the inspiration behind the brand and it’s name?
Well it’s pretty simple really i came across this fabulous photograph of my great grandmother Eliza Vale. She is wearing a high collar blouse and necklace and is extremely elegant, if a little stern looking, but I loved the name and it seemed to reflect the brand image we wanted to put across. When I decided to add bridal accessories to the range it fitted even better with the surname Vale.
Has your relationship with the accessories that you now wear changed since you are now a designer?
Not really I’ve always liked quite bold statement pieces and have had a lot of vintage pieces over the years. I used to pick up pieces from flea markets in New York and mix them up with new elements to give them new life. When I started the business i guess i did try to coordinate my outfits to work with the pieces to show my customers how it was possible to wear the most glam, sparkly pieces with a simple T-shirt or shirt in the day to liven up the most simple of outfits.
I own one of your cuffs and love how much of a statement that it adds to the simplest outfits. Where do you find your inspiration from?
I find inspiration from all over the place, artworks and exhibitions i visit, street wear and trends from different countries i visit, tribal jewellery, as well as looking back to previous eras like the Art Deco style of the twenties.
Could you give a glimpse into the process of design, for example how do you decide on what materials to use?
For me the design always starts with the materials so if i started with Swarovski crystal pearls and glass beads this would effect the base i would use or if I would construct the design with wire. The end use is also important as I want my pieces to be comfortable with silk lining and quality fastenings so that the pieces last and hopefully will be passed on through generations.
I imagine that day-to-day, your schedule differs hugely. Is there one particular element of your work or schedule that you would have preference over?
Absolutely, design! Unfortunately there’s a lot more that goes in to running a business and paperwork, sales and stock control take up a huge amount of time. I’m always dying to get back to the deigning of new pieces and love getting them photographed, seeing them featured in blogs and shoots and promoting them on social media.
Your bridal pieces are simply beautiful – do you enjoy being a part of a bride’s special day?
It’s a really special experience and when i hand over a commission and the bride says “It’s just how i imagined” and we’ve managed to bring to life that idea she had in her head. That’s really fulfilling. I love adding that personal touch, including a family heirloom into the piece and making matching accessories for Bridesmaid or Mother of the Bride. It’s a once in a lifetime experience getting married and we endeavour to help add that extra element to the Bride’s big day and make them feel happy and confident in what they’re wearing. Their piece should be a true expression of their personality and individuality.
I imagine it’s rather difficult to choose, but is there a moment in your career which you’re most proud of?
Mmm I’m proud every time i receive photos back from a Bride’s big day and see how happy and glowing they are in their Eliza Vale accessories. For me that’s enough. I love having features in magazines and blogs but really haven’t entered for any awards as such.
I understand that you studied at University of Brighton, would you recommend that anyone interested in designing for a career should go to college?
I would recommend any course that offers a year out in business and a business studies element to the course as these things are invaluable when going on to find employment within the industry.
Do you have any tips for aspiring creators – something that you wish that someone had told you?
Gosh that’s a tough one….stay true to your design aesthetic, don’t try too hard to fit in to trends or what the rest of the industry are doing as your customers will seek you out and you don’t need to appeal to everyone.
Do you have a brand bucket list for Eliza Vale for the new few years?
I’ve recently moved back to the UK so am launching a new floral vines and headdress collection so will be heading out to find new boutiques to supply and hopefully gaining a wider exposure across the UK. I hope to expand the bridal range into more cover ups and wraps and other accessories so that we can cover all the bride’s needs and wishes.
A massive thank you to Katie for the interview and she is certainly a designer that I will be thinking of for my big day in the future. You can follow Katie via her website (especially the neck-pieces!) and also on Twitter & Facebook and I would highly recommend taking a look at her stunning creations.
All images kindly provided by Katie. The mood shots were taken by Emily Quinn.