Hello, I’m Christine. Thank you so much for stopping by!
As a historical costume designer I am privileged to live out my passion one
stitch at a time! Until recently, admitting you were self-taught elicited suspicion,
but thanks to shows like "Project Runway" attitudes have changed and designers
who don't hold an official degree from a design school have at last earned the
recognition we deserve. In many ways, those who are self-taught must work harder
to learn and master the necessary techniques to prove themselves; and this is what
drives me to strive constantly for the excellence my clients have come to expect from their commissions.
My career began decades ago under the loving tutelage of my talented grandmother (Elsie Ruth Huffman), who not only taught me fine detail and handwork, but modeled for me the work ethic of her generation. I have always loved historical clothing, but became interested in 16th Century costuming in 2001 when I joined my first reenactment guild in California and began creating garb for family and friends. Since then, I have spent the last 15+ years immersing myself in the research of historical dyes, fabrics, pattern drafting, historical construction techniques, and embroidery for the 16th, 17th, and 18th Century, respectively. While the majority of my commissions are for the 16th Century, I also create 18th Century, Victorian, Steampunk, Vintage, and Fantasy costume.
What began as a hobby unfolded into a full-time career in 2012 when I was fortunate enough to retire early and relocate to the beautiful state of Washington. In CA the nearest design school was a six-hour drive to Los Angeles or four hours to San Francisco. Since relocating to the Seattle area, doors have opened to me to further my education through classes at the New York Fashion Academy - Seattle to hone my design and fitting skills and continue to stretch myself as a designer by venturing into men's tailored pieces and gowns from the 18th and 19th Century.
While I strive for authenticity in my design styles, my challenge as a designer is to meld the "historical purist" with my client's vision or "fantasy" and produce beautiful and functional ensembles that hit as many points as possible to offer the public a vignette into each respective time period. While I adore projects that strive for more historical accuracy, what's more important to me as a designer is pleasing my clients, working within their budget, and encouraging their love and knowledge of clothing from bygone eras when women's clothing were works of art and Haute Couture was the standard of the day rather than the exception.
Designing quality costumes is a bit of an obsession. I set high standards for myself and my assistants, and strive to make sure my clients' investment is money well-spent. I'm grateful to say my clients continue to offer me excellent feedback for my attention to detail and the quality of my work. That is essential for you, the consumer, to know; because, let's face it, transactions on-line can often be a gamble. I hear the horror stories all the time from clients who have had horrific experiences; even from "costumers" they hired who are well-known in the costuming world and lauded as leaders in their craft! Therefore, it's extremely important that my work and customer satisfaction speaks for me. While I cannot accept returns, due to the fact that ALL of my creations are custom made to order, I DO want to know if there is an issue when you receive your item, and I will do my best to assist.
I choose quality over 'quantity.' My calendar is consistently full for gown and men's ensembles, and I apologize for any delays that will cause you; but I promise the wait will be worth it! I accept a limited amount of commission per year; rather than cranking out cookie-cut work on the cheap; which is why my sales in my store don't number in the thousands.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Added Value Service!" -- In-Person Fittings anywhere in the U.S.A for additional fees to cover my overnight travel expenses. BRIDES - - This enhanced service offers you Peace of Mind that your custom gown will absolutely fit to your measures. You have enough to stress about. Your gown not fitting properly is one you needn't add to that list! Ask for "Value Added Service" and I will give you an approximate cost for my flight and hotel.*
*Costs are determined by the time of year and your location.
Thank you for stopping by. If you don't see something you're looking for here, please don't be disappointed. Tell me what you're looking for! I love a challenge!
- Christine Helman