Since the launch of her debut collection ‘Element of Freedom’ in 2011, Catherine Leon’s self-titled label has been praised for its attention to innovative detail, impeccable alignment of prints, versatile offering of wardrobe staples and overall accessibility.
From a young age, Catherine’s inspiration and creativity was strongly influenced by the talented works of her seamstress aunt. Captivated by her flair and ingenuity, Catherine embarked upon her own journey into the fashion world.
Studying at RMIT, Catherine perfected her skills in pattern making before becoming accepted at the prestigious Melbourne School of Fashion and specialised in product development and design. Not long after graduation, Catherine was selected as a finalist in the 2011 Fashion Exposed Debut competition and took out the top prize.
Now she is preparing for her first solo exhibition at Premiere boutique trade event for exclusive brands from 26-28 August at the Royal Exhibition Building. Read our chat with Catherine below where she reveals how ancient history influences her design work; how the Fashion Exposed Debut win has helped her brand; and preparing for Melbourne Spring Fashion Week.
Where do you source your inspiration? And how do they drive you and influence your design?
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by national geographic ancient history. I’m captivated by the stories and artwork. The whole subculture has been inspiring a lot of my work, especially my personal work.
Music is a huge part of it and the people that play it. Not to mention their personal style. Lastly the people I surround myself by – friends, family and people I work with. They’re all really creative people, whether it be the way they dress, the music they make, photos they are taking and so on. It’s really cool to have people like that around you who will inspire you and your work, andkeep you smiling.
How do you transfer these inspirations into design? Talk us through your design process from drawing board to in-store/online?
I like to have my sketchbook and camera handy, it’s a great way to capture and reflect on those things that have inspired me. I archive my inspiration whether it be a sketch, a photograph or fabric swatch, from my library of inspiration there will usually be an obvious theme. This theme then takes me through to the next stage of designing my collections.
Can you tell us the story behind the name?
While developing my first collection I felt it was such a personal deliverance and so I felt my name would be the perfect stamp for the label.
You won the Debut contest at Fashion Exposed in 2011, how has the label progressed since then? Did you gain new stockists?
I believe each collection is stronger then the last. Not only has the label gained significant stockists but it has also had great exposure and recognition.
You are about to showcase the brand at Premiere Melbourne in August, why did you choose this event and what do you hope to gain?
I have heard great things about Premiere it’s a great platform for designers to market their band to the right customer.
What’s in store for the future – where do you see the brand heading?
To continue building on the success/momentum achieved in 2012, to develop additional significant stockists and an ever-growing following.
The label has been asked to participate at MSFW this coming September, we will be showcasing the “Road to Reveries’ Summer 12/13 collection.