Auckland designer Shelley Dunn studied fashion design at Massey University in Wellington, receiving the award for excellence, offered to one single fashion design student in each level, in all three years of her fashion major. For this achievement in her fourth year Shelley was awarded a $1000 prize which went towards buying an industrial sewing machine to start her label, Shelley D.
What do you make? I make clothing and accessories.
How did you get into your craft?
I learnt to sew by watching over my mother’s shoulder, but never really got into it until I was at University. While living in a student hostel in Wellington for my first year of study, I loaned my flatmate’s sewing machine to start making clothes. Friends were asking why I was studying business when I had a knack for sewing and could be a designer.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Yes, after one year studying for a Bachelor of Commerce, my friends convinced me to make the switch from Victoria to Massey where I completed a four year degree in Fashion Design and I never looked back!
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Leather is my favourite material and my industrial plain sewer is my favourite tool! I have a long wishlist of machinery, including a walking foot machine specifically for leather, but those purchases are definitely something I will work towards for a while. My favourite process is draping garments on the mannequin. I love coming up with something new through draping, and I find it easier than flat patternmaking when you are creating garments which have pleating or gathering.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by shapes and patterns a lot, which is no doubt why I am also inspired often by fabrics themselves. I worked for four years at Arthur Toye Fabrics in Wellington while I studied at Massey. I was always captivated by new fabrics that came in and found it really helpful to my degree to know and understand textiles better.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I love garments and accessories that make you feel a million dollars. Designing is very personal and often autobiographical and so I don’t expect everyone to get my point of view, but I try to create garments that compliment a woman’s shape and can be both dressed up or worn casually.
Five words that describe your mind:
Meticulous, occupied, persistent, excitable, expeditious
Describe your workspace:
I have my workroom set up in the second smaller bedroom of our house. I’m lucky that my husband has let me take over so much more space in the house too because racks of patterns and garments have started over-flowing into the hallway now. I have a big patternmaking desk, my industrial machine plus several domestic machines set out in the workroom amongst racks of leather and boxes of material and stock!
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
The review I received on Felt has been the best so far from all my sales: “Absolutely beautiful, original, and top quality product! Couldn’t resist the purchase, and so pleased with it! Very quick delivery & great communication. Thanks so much.”
It’s so nice to hear that a customer is happy with their purchase and I love that Felt gives the option for customers to leave feedback.
Recommend an album:
I love Kimbra Vows at the moment. She is so clever with her music, and she’s home-grown talent too.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading Diane von Furstenburg’s A Signature Life. She is so inspiring!
Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have two cats – Radley and Rusty. They are so cute and keep me company while I work from home!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope to have my clothing stocked in a lot more shops all over New Zealand. Shortly the sales season for winter 2013 begins, so it’s an exciting time as I finish off my next clothing range in preparation for this.
Love Shelley’s designs? Leave a comment below to go in the draw to win a Shelley D grape and black leather and sequin neckpiece, valued at $59! This draw is open to New Zealand residents only. The winner will be drawn on Friday 20 July.