It was a cold day, which in Ballarat is not a surprise, when I got the call from Chitra Magnma. She was her usual whirlwind self on the phone when she asked me ‘I would like you to be face of my final collection, would you be willing to?’ Her question excited me so much I was stumped for what to say for a few moments before I bumbled something that told her I was willing.
The first time I met Chitra in person was at her shop in Brunswick during one of her wild fashion shows. It was a winter collection and she had invited me after she found my blog online.
It was one of the first times I had been invited to a fashion event through my blog and I was terribly nervous. I rushed to the event after work and searched out her little shop on Sydney Rd in the dark.
The clothes were delicious! They were curve loving, classic and feminine. When Chitra came across me after the show she led me to the change rooms and started tossing outfits at me.
It’s hard not to fall in love with every item she makes, but one particular purple suit swept me off my feet. She tailored it to fit me and I collected it a week later. The love affair began.
Since then, I have gradually become more involved in her shows and clothes. Photographing and blogging the events, then becoming a catwalk model for her, and finally the phone call asking me to be the face of her final collection.
This opportunity has given me a more intimate viewpoint to watch her work on her collection and see how she crafts her pieces.
What do you expect from a designer for her final collection? I remember she pounced on me once a few years ago when I came into her store to help her check the fit of her sample dresses for the collection she was working on at the time. Even for myself who knows so little about clothes, I know that it’s damn hard to make a dress low at the front AND at the back, without the shoulders falling off from lack of support. I slipped on one of the season dresses and can recall spinning from the mirror to face her and asking in amazement ‘it fits so comfortably and the shoulders and still snug! How did you do that?’ She just chuckled mischievously and said ‘it took me three tries to get the pattern right.’ This dedication and daring to be different has always made a distinctive stamp on her collections. It is something her clients adore and a hard thing to top. I asked her recently ‘how do you know so much about how to make clothes ‘work’?’ She chuckled and said ‘you’ve never been to Thailand have you?’
The day I went to her shop to try on the clothes for this season’s photo shoot Chitra unveiled clothes that I could not stop smiling at. A bright pink suit, long cardigans with stunning necklines, polka dot shirts, floral dresses, and a beautiful long and graceful polka dot dress.
She took the above snaps on her iPhone to give her clients a preview of what to expect from the collection, but at the time I didn’t know she was holding one suit back.
On the day of the shoot, I arrived at her house (at some indecent hour of the morning) and saw The Suit for the first time. Bright yellow. Bright, sunflower yellow. A yellow blazer, coloured, mismatched buttons and a skirt in bold, large, sunflower print. I stood transfixed.
She saw me staring and said ‘oh that one. I’ve wanted to do that one for a long time, but I’ve never been brave enough. I do everything I want for the final show.’
Everything including incorporating her favourite car, the Volkswagen Beetle into the theme of the show called The Love Bug.
Everything, including an idea we have shared for a long time: to bring her show to Ballarat.
So with this bombshell, I will leave you. Plans are being made, and I promise you will be the first to know.
Stay in touch xx
Up next… A Day in Front of the Camera: Chitra’s Closet SS12 Photo Shoot