Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tess's Coat at Obama's Inauguration


  It is a proud moment for me as a mentor to see one of the  coats designed by my great protégé, Tess Coburn, worn by one of her customers at the Obama inauguration. The photo on the left is one of fifteen taken by the New York Times in their January 22nd issue of our president's inauguration. The customer, wearing Tess's coat is in the lower left hand corner. The photo on the right is the same coat on a fashion model.

  Tess began independently while living as an English teacher in China, and in a few short years her collections have become very successful, growing the company 50% each year. She has been working with me, Shirley Willett, for the past 10 years, returning to China to produce each year . Recently, with her now great production knowledge, she produces in Massachusetts. 
  Many have asked about specific relationships in the way my protégés and I, as their mentor, work. Each one is very different with special needs and desires. It is not education itself, although some need more of my teaching than others – but all of them need pieces of my deep knowledge and experience, particularly in pattern making and production, and/or my unique creative ability to solve their special problems. Whenever someone needs just my knowledge to solve a specific problem, especially a business one, I consult, but do not continue a relationship as a mentor, guiding them.

  I have had many protégés off and on over 50 odd years. Presently I have four protégés, all in their own businesses and with different degrees of success. Tess Coburn is my number one protege. She designs elegant silk and cashmere jackets and coats. I met her through the Boston Fashion Industry Meetup, , for which I was the Organizer. She was doing beautiful trimming but her jacket and coat shapes needed work. She began working with my Stylometrics blazer jacket template, and all her jackets and coats since have great shape and consistent good fit.  

    Being very creative herself, I encouraged her to experiment with new shaping. The photo on the top shows the studied develop-ment of a beautiful raglan sleeve and a nicely shaped shawl collar. The next photo  is recent and shows how her creativity with sleeves became a great line in this elegant motorcycle type jacket. The elbow expansion shows her excellent learning for great easy motion.
  An email from Tess (2.5.10) shows the closeness of our thinking: 

Hi Shirley,

Been thinking of you daily.  You are always present in my studio while I work-how would Shirley drape that?, what would Shirley say about that line?, Shirley would say it looks too bound up and it needs to be released, not tightened....:))