Thursday, 26 April 2012

tea for two and macaroons

My blog allows me to meet new people from the fashion world, some of which have included style bloggers, stylists, boutique owners and designers. I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to meet such amazing people and have learned a great deal from them.  So it was indeed a pleasure when I was given the opportunity to meet with emerging designer, Cathleen Tan of Cathleen Jia, "a Melbourne based fashion house specialising in the design and creation of beautiful cocktail and evening dresses."

Sipping on homebrewed peppermint tea, whilst indulging in sweet French macaroons, Cathleen offered me deep insight as to the ins and outs of starting a fashion label, from her background experiences which have helped shape her career, through to the inspiration behind her exciting new Premiere collection.

I discovered the story behind the label itself. It turns out that Cathleen's middle name is Jia and she felt this name had a better ring to it than her surname.

Experiences in retail have had a substantial influence on Cathleen's current business ethic, which is based around the importance of building up a good relationship with her clients and knowing their needs. Cathleen "believes in designing beautiful things, (and ) at the end of the day, if you don't have that service, if you don't offer that relationship with your client, your things are not going to sell and your label is not going to survive." 

Presently working full time with established Melbourne designer, Anna Campbell, Cathleen recalls that pinnacle moment in her life where she decided to pursue her dreams of becoming a fashion designer. September of 2011 marked the turning point in Cathleen's career. From this point on, she would work behind the scenes in her modest Melbourne studio, to establish her own label, Cathleen Jia. 

Melbourne studio

When asked what advice Cathleen would offer new designers who were thinking of starting their own label, she suggests firstly having a clear idea of what you really want to do, knowing your style and going from there. In conjunction with this, trying to keep it quite small to start and doing what you're capable of. Lastly, Cathleen explained the importance of networking. There are so many people in the industry who can offer such inspiration, as well as spread your label. 

We discussed the future directions of Cathleen Jia and Cathleen hopes to be well established first as a designer and then to eventually open up her very own bridal boutique.

Cathleen's second collection, Premiere (see the launch event here), is based on the movie stars and screen goddesses of Hollywood. Each gown created, has been named after starlets, such as Grace Kelly and my very own style icon, Audrey Hepburn. 

Miss Audrey
Madam Vivien
Lady Clara Bow
Lace detail
Sweetheart Lillian
Princess Grace
Dame Ava front view
Dame Ava back view
Cathleen with Darling Bridgette
Darling Bridgett & I in limited edition chartreuse

Utilising locally sourced silks, lace and beading, Cathleen Jia gowns are for any woman wanting a timeless, elegant and feminine look. Each collection consists of a signature colour palette of black, oyster and coco, as well as a limited edition colour. 

Accessories offer the perfect finishing touch. The Premiere accessories range is now available online at Etsy. Accessories include handcrafted headpieces and cuffs. Click on the link provided for more details and pricing.

Select pieces of the Cathleen Jia Premiere collection are now available at Melbourne's newest retail concept, SWOON, located at 109 Auburn Rd, Hawthorn. Alternatively, you can contact Cathleen Tan via email to arrange a private showing of her collection at her studio. 

My favourite gown is the Dame Ava cocktail dress in black. What's your favourite? 

Yours in style,

Suzi x

Some images courtesy of Cathleen


  1. I just found your blog and I think it is amazing.I am following you now,if you can nor find me on your follower list,please,leave comment on my "Quick post"where I wrote about that problem I have with blogger,and as soon as they fix it,I will follow you.I will be honored if you come visit my blog and follow it if you like it :) have a nice day

    1. Thanks so much Lucyle! I'll come & check out your blog too.
      Suzi x

  2. Gorgeous dresses i love the green ones such a stunning shade,you are a lucky girl but its lovely to read that you are very appreciative of it x

    1. Yes, the chartreusse is the limited edition colour. It's gorgeous!
      Thanks so much for your lovely comment.
      Suzi x

  3. So beautiful dresses and so inspiring write ups, I admire so much those young promising designer like Cathleen. It inspires me more to further my talent as a good dressmaker and my love for elegant evening dresses to start my own label.

    1. Cathleen is such an inspiration!
      Suzi x

    2. Absolutely she is. her design is so unique and elegant.