INTERVIEW: Melbourne Fashion Designer, Shehzarin Batha
Shehzarin Batha’s fashion label, The House Of CQ started in 2005 and has now evolved into an established brand renowned for luxury hand-crafted corsetry, bridal and couture. Shehzarin expresses her progressive thoughts in striking colours and neo-classic silhouettes through the art of made-to-measure couture. The talented fashion designer has her first independent fashion show, “Zeitgeist” at Revolt in Kensington, Melbourne tonight. I whisked Shehzarin away from sewing to find out about her career and was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her signature pieces.
Q: What sparked your interest in fashion?
A: I think I was just born to be in the fashion industry. I don’t use the word fashion but I call it the rag trade as clothing for me is about a mood or a feeling I can run with opposed to following trends. Clothing is meant to be an extension of who you are.
Q: Does your family come from a fashion background?
A: Yes. My mum was a seamstress. I’m the eldest child and when I was born they were struggling with money so my mum made all of my clothes. She was extremely proficient and meticulous with her sewing. I would watch and choose all of the fabrics. I started making clothing from an early age because I grew out of the frocks mum made for me and she refused to make the cooler stuff. I had to find a way.
Q: How old were you when you moved to Australia?
A: I was 18 so I’ve been here for 12 years. I fell into fashion by default as I didn’t see myself becoming a designer until later. Making items was second nature and the emphasis in my household was on education. I started studying fashion in India when I was 17 and have also studied at RMIT Melbourne and London College of Fashion.
Q: Do you draw inspiration from India for your fashion designs?
A: I get a lot of my fabrics and inspiration from there. I try to fuse that with contemporary classic style. It’s very grounding going back to India. I love going back to my roots as I feel centred when I’m there.
Q: Tell me about your fashion label, CQ?
A: My fashion label started off as corsetry which is extremely intricate. I started off being a pattern maker which is very technical. You can explore garment construction in so many interesting ways. Only three years ago I found out my grandma used to wear, repair and make corsets. It’s a bit of a coincidence!
Q: Describe your current fashion designs?
A: I use elements of corsetry throughout what I do. What I’m doing now is a lot of classic silhouettes from the 20’s onwards through to the 50’s so it’s after the war when women were becoming much more liberated. I’m drawing inspiration from this era and making it more contemporary and more suited to a modern woman. It’s all bespoke tailored which is an art in itself as all of the items are constructed by hand first. The beauty of bespoke is it is made to measure. Unfortunately that level of tailoring is dying.
Q: What is the best aspect of your job?
A: I get to work with some of the most amazing and incredibly talented women. Telling a story in fabric is so exciting. There’s nothing better and more satisfying for me when a customer puts on a dress and the look on their face when they love it is exhilarating. It doesn’t matter if I did 5000 hours of sewing, it’s always worth it.
Q: What will people expect from your fashion show?
A: A touch of Europe, a little bit of opulence and the models will have real curves. It is not a conventional fashion show as women’s wear is about more of an experience rather than a fashion show. We want to educate people about the importance of keeping the local industry alive as it is dying. In German craft means strength and is one of the oldest words. It is our strength which is important. I want to educate women that are out there about the importance of keeping this craft alive. It’s couture at its best.