We’re back with our weekly Q&A sessions and today we are talking to Andree Girard-Kemp, founder and creative director of House of Chickadee.
The House of ChickaDee is inspired by a passion for vintage fabrics, fine craftsmanship and timeless designs. Their mission is to make people feel spectacular, be it by a great fitting dress, a fabulous clutch bag or an amazing piece for the home.
The House of ChickaDee lives by the ethos of the great fashion and social icon, Coco Chanel 'Fashion changes, only style remains'.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I have always wanted to do something artistic. Like a lot of kids, I used to make up dance routines with friends, I was in the school choir, tried my hand at music and absolutely loved clothes and putting together outfits from from a very early age. I was very experimental from around the age of 12, second hand mens waistcoats with huge flowers in the lapel, brightly coloured circle skirts on top of cut off jeans, cut by myself obviously...I remember cutting up sheets and fashioning them into t-shirts. This is when I got an inkling of which direction I wanted to take, although I was also quite 'wordy'. I enjoyed, and still do, writing or should I say, waffling on?? (never take yourself too seriously!) and dabbled with the idea of fashion journalism for a while.
Did you study at school for art and design and how did you learn the skills you have today?
I am a Northern lass through and through and wanted to stay up North to study as I really felt the fashion scene was so vibrant and yet not given the recognition it deserved. I went to John Moores University, Liverpool, for my art and design foundation course which confirmed that I wanted to study fashion, then applied to Manchester and UCLA universities for their BA fashion courses, was accepted in both and chose UCLA for two reasons. Firstly because it was a sandwich course and I wanted that year out in the industry where I knew I would gain so much experience working with professionals, and secondly it was a fashion and marketing course. I have always been vocationally driven as opposed to just artistically driven and I wanted to have these insights into the business. I wanted to be able to create something that would serve a purpose and not just sketch pretty but unworkable ideas. It was a great course that gave me the pattern cutting, technical, practical and artistic skills to go forward. Since then, I have worked for various companies in womens, mens and childrens wear as both a designer and pattern cutter, always learning and adding CAD design to my skills.
Who or what influences your work?
So much and so many. We work mainly, but not solely, with vintage fabrics and the whimsy of this mixed with the boldness and colour of the prints dictates many of my designs. I'm proud of the fact that we are using something preloved, with history and not just mindlessly adding to landfill. I also love the prettiness of a floral fabric mixed with the edginess of a pair of biker boots, a denim jacket, unique tattoos. I live by the sea and previously worked for a surf wear company and so much of my marketing strategy (photo shoots, shows, event organising...) is still influenced by this fun filled and natural world. The optimistic naivety and joy of my children spurs me on. Women in general influence and inspire. The fact that my roots are urban but my daily life is rural is very influential on my style.
Who are your favorite artists and how did they influence your work ?
I've always been fascinated by the Bahaus movement for its colour and graphic detail notably Kandinsky, Klee and Le Corbusier and based my end of degree collection on this. Also the opulence of Klimt, the colour, everyday'ness' and realism of David Hockney... In fashion I have to say Balenciaga for the drama, Westwood for the joy and extravagance and Victoria Beckham for sending out beautiful, modern, wearable collections despite the critics