Confessions of a fashion designer

Arrowtown designer Claire Brinsley has a passion for fashion. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
Arrowtown designer Claire Brinsley has a passion for fashion. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
It’s been just over 10 years since Arrowtown designer Claire Brinsley launched her fashion label, claire bloom. Originally from Wales, Brinsley was taught to sew by her mother when she was 12 years old and so began a lifelong passion.

Q. Why do you do what you do?

A. I love clothes, and being in fashion is so much fun and rewarding ... The highlight is picking up new samples. I can't wait to get them and try them on, it's like Christmas!

Joys are seeing other women wearing claire bloom. I just love it; I feel so humbled and privileged. As for challenges, living in Queenstown, where there is no CMT (garment making factory), and designing a beautiful garment only to find the fabric has been dropped by the supplier.

That is really disappointing and sometimes you don't know until your collection has been sold to stores. Also, there's the time pressure of getting a collection out. Explaining my passion is easy: I love to wear beautiful things and I guess that speaks for itself.

Q. What is your earliest memory?

A. When my brother was born. I was 4 years old. I still remember that so vividly.

Q. What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A. Well, when I was little I wanted to be a hairdresser! But then as I got to high school I honestly had no idea what I wanted to be. I worked really hard at school; I wanted my parents to be proud of me. At university I decided I would like to be in management of some kind.

Q. What is your most embarrassing moment?

A. OMG, where do I start? There are quite a few! The earliest was at preschool when I put my little backpack down and didn't realise it landed in dog poo. By the time I got to school I had been swinging my bag against my legs and it was all over my knee-length white socks ... and I had to stay like that until I finished school, as my mum and dad were working.

Q. What's your proudest achievement?

A. Oh, there are a few of these too. I would have to say having our babies.

Q. Property aside, what's the most extravagant thing you've bought?

A. I think it was a Max Gimblett painting a few years ago. I absolutely loved it - and it's something I can enjoy every day. I think it's really important to buy art that you love, not just for its investment potential.

Q. Who would play you in the film of your life?

A. Well, people tell me I look like Julianne Moore, though I can't see it, so, perhaps she could play me.

Q. What is your guiltiest pleasure?

A. Regular facials and chocolate ... Maybe not at the same time!

Q. What would be your dream job?

A. I'm in my dream job! Honestly, if I felt that strongly about getting my dream job, then I would be doing all I could to make it happen, I think ...

Q. If you could trade lives with one other person for a day, who would you trade with and why?

A. Kate Middleton. I would love to see and feel what being a royal is really like.

Q. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

A. Do I have to limit it to one person? Olivier Martinez would be first on the list. No need to ask why!

Q. What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

A. I would love to find a fantastic hair colour that is all natural and has no chemicals. There are chemical-free colours around, but I have naturally dark hair that needs lightening to hide the greys.

Q. What keeps you awake at night?

A. Thinking about my To Do list! I think of a lot of extra things to put on it at sleep time.

Q. If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

A. Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be), by Doris Day. I am a firm believer in the fact that whatever happens is meant to be.

When I look back at all of the decisions I made, that led me to where I am, I wouldn't change a thing. It's meant to happen that way.

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