Steampunk: Clockwork Couture by Donna Ricci
Steampunk is a trend that has been taking the world by storm. Leading the trend with her intricate designs is Donna Ricci. Her pieces have already started to appear on popular television shows such as America’s Next Top Model, and show no signs of slowing. Ricci’s journey towards Clockwork Couture began in 2008 when she discovered this trend of intermingling Victorian fashion with modern technology. Her website was launched in December, making it the first Steampunk retailer. This was followed by the first bricks and mortar store in 2009.
What is your name, where are you from and how old are you?
Donna: Donna Ricci, Planet Earth, Timeless citizen of my domain.
Where did you study and what did you get from the experience?
I am a student of life, of inspirational people around me and of nature itself. All else is completely incidental.
Which of your current designs is your favourite?
The one I find most versatile? The adventurer’s ensemble. The soft corduroy drapes across the hips allows you to wear trousers or skirts underneath, and the jacket fits across like a well-tailored uniform.
Are the designs all your own or are there multiple designers?
We pull from a great many places to put together one incredible shop of wonder. I do design, but not everything here is mine. We collaborate with local artisans, far-away tinkerers and stay-at-home crafters.
How would you describe the style of your own home? Does it reflect in your products?
My home is a bohemian den of comfort and colour. I spend more time at work, which is a little Steampunk workshop.
Are any of your pieces modified from vintage items?
We are in the process of creating patterns from some vintage pieces and reworking them for modern fashionistas, but all current items are just dreams turned into tangible items.
Your hats are especially interesting, gorgeous and elaborate. What sort of event would you hope your customers would wear these to, and what did you have in mind when you designed/made them?
Women need to stop thinking of hats as costume accessories, and start wearing them to the market, the theatre and out for walks again. It should not just sit atop the head, but crown your ensemble and be part of your person.
What is your favourite sort of thing to design? Why?
What is your favourite era for design and why?
My favourite silhouettes are 1860-1890s dresses. Exaggerated feminism without any excessive billowing.
How would you describe your personality, and is this reflected in your work?
Eternal optimist with a desire to leave the planet better than when I entered it. Because it’s a core foundation of my being, and not simply a branding decision, it is a law that molds each decision made. From our cruelty-free fabrics, to our lack of weapons at the shop, we have an unshakeable knowledge about what Clockwork Couture is.
Do you have a team working with you to help manage the brand?
I am blissfully aware of the amazing team I’ve collected as my employees. Everyone from my milliner, corsettiere, shipping gal and even customer service guru are all delightful women that I look forward to spending time with.
What are a few of your likes and dislikes in terms of design and style aesthetic?
Please tell me about the creative process that went into your current collection. What techniques were used?
I collect period pieces, catalogues and photographs, and then decide what would make these more wearable, fun and modern.
Have you ever produced bespoke items for customers?
Hats, clothing and accessories all tailored to the customer’s whimsy.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Being asked to work with some of my favourite actors on their personal projects. It’s an honour, a privilege and great geek-out joy all in one. I will forever be in awe and gratitude to Miss Felicia Day and Krystyn Ingram for including me in “The Guild” work.
What is your advice for others wanting to go down the home business retail path?
Have you any plans for the future? When can we expect your next collection and where do you hope to be in five years?
Because we’re not a traditional shop, we don’t put out collections, as much as constantly produce small runs, one after the other. I hope that continues long into my lifespan.
Finally, what is your one fashion vice?
A great pair of boots.
Visit the website here.