I was pondering recently on how absolutely marvellous Etsy is, given that only a few years ago, the vast majority of designers who sell via the Etsy marketplace, would have had to fork out thousands of pounds to secure exhibiting space, in the hopes of finding new stockists – and even then, that wasn't guaranteed.
One of the most exciting Etsy discoveries I have made of late, is that of Bonzie Crotty; An unusual and intriguing name, I was keen to know more about the person behind this Independent Irish label, full of romantic, vintage appeal and a timeworn aesthetic…
All Imagery Copyright (c) 2010, Bonzie
Isn't that tulle skirt exquisite? Described as a 'signature Bonzie piece', it was created as a Bridal design, for those wishing to team up with their favourite adorned Bonzie corset, for a complete Wedding Ensemble ~ this piece is made to order to your specific measurements and comes in White/Ivory or Tea Stain (pictured above) ~ $750 (£464 USD, €532), available here.
As it turns out, Bonzie, is actually Yvonne, and she is also one half of an Aunt/Niece design duo…
"I'm the niece part I began the label "Bonzie" (which also happens to be my childhood nickname which stuck). I was alone when I started it, but it got kind of busy, kind of fast and My Auntie Ger is also really arty and an awesome designer/seamstress so we decided we could rock out with more gusto if we fused our skills."
"We were both working away as two separate entities at first and then realised that we would be much happier with the support of each other and the benefits of combining our skills. We get on like a married couple and know what the other is thinking – even finishing each others sentences! We were both part of a very creative family; Arts and Craft were the only pastime when we were small and I guess a passion for all things artistic was honed from a very young age. On my fathers side we have a lot of Artistic folk and on my Moms side we have a lot of dancers/musical folk so we were very much immersed in creativity from both sides. We launched our Bonzie label a couple of years ago on Etsy and its been growing from strength to strength ever since."
Bonzie and I first got chatting late one night, and I soon discovered I had met a kindred spirit; like me, Bonzie loves to stay up late until the wee hours working ~ it's a time of the day when both our creative juices flow at their best. When I was chatting with Bonzie, she was in the process of hand-stitching beading on to a piece for a client. I could sense the genuine passion in her tone ~ she spoke excitedly about the piece being almost finished and how proud of it she was. I found myself trying to picture Bonzie in her studio, surrounded by reams of tulle, boxes beads and designer illustrations pinned to the walls and so I asked Bonzie if she had any photographs of her design studio ~ I love to get a peek inside a designers creative work space…
….!!! If that isn't a 'space' I wouldn't happily hand over my favourite frock to occupy when I'm working, then, I'll eat my dress! Isn't it beeeeeeeautiful?
I could tell fairly early on into our conversation, that Bonzie does what she does, because of her genuine passion for creating beautiful pretty things.
Bonzie describes her signature style as 'Tattered Couture', that mixes layers of romance with a fusion of vintage, neo victorian and a little steampunk. Bonzie's designs include bolero jackets, corsets, collars, wraps, bags, skirts and 'tatter-tees', as seen below…
"We are both hopeless romantics and find ourselves consistently drawn to olde worlde fabrics such as vintage lace, tulle, velvet, silk dupioni and lots of trimmings such as beads, brooches, rhinestones etc…"
"I attended the National College of Art and Design in Dublin where I obtained an Honours Degree in Fashion Design and Ger graduated with the same from Cork City. There is a huge element of self training once you have left college, I think you're always developing as an artist, pushing your creativity and adapting to new challenges and opportunities. All our items are designed and constructed by hand in our studios in Ireland by Ger and Myself, using high quality textiles and labour of love techniques which ensure each client is getting a touch of couture at an affordable boutique price range."
The 'couture' comment got me thinking; I think often, people can associate couture with the type of fashion only available to the super-rich, in exclusive boutiques that don't sell online. Actually, the word 'couture' simply means "sewing", though these days, the term has come to indicate the business of designing, creating, and selling custom-made, high-fashion women's clothes. And couture these days doesn't come much prettier or stylisth than this…
"We speak daily with lots of brides and clients, a personalised service which we feel is a very important part of our Independent brand identity. We like that we are approachable and would be aiming to keep it intimate as opposed to mass producing for the high street etc where that designer/client element is lost somewhat."
Bonzie currently sell exclusively online from www.bonzie.etsy.com. Bonzie says she enjoys the ability to host a shopfront on the web which she feels keeps her and her Aunt Ger close to their customers;
These absolutely wonderful 'Collar' designs would make the most amazing 'statement' pieces for any Bride…
Selling their work worldwide and building an impressive client-base that includes Courtney Love, Imogen Heap and Gabby Young, Bonzie is quickly becoming a covetable fashion addition to those who wish to stand out from the crowd. Bonzie told me that she and Ger are attracted to people who are quite experimental in their approach to fashion;
"I adore people who rock out an individual quirky or eccentric look without a care in the world. Some examples of people like this would be Vivienne Westwood, Patricia Field, Alexander McQueen, Imogen Heap and UK songstress Gabby Young. Gabby and I met through our Etsy store and it was love at first corsage! Gabby is an incredibly talented individual with a style identity all of her own. I think Gabby appreciates a touch of theatre in her closet and a gal like that is a gal after our own hearts! We really enjoy working with artistic individuals, there's a special flavour that happens when you make a creativity stew!"
"We like to update our items at regular intervals. We often introduce new colour ranges and new items that keep the shop fresh and interesting. We are looking forward to expanding in 2010 with a Bonzie Bag range which will allow more folk an opportunity to purchase as opposed to the current range which is more bridal/special occasion related."
"To work daily on something you love is an incredible gift and we are both so grateful to be able to continue to express ourselves through our work! One of the most important things about our brand is the fact that it has been carried and supported since its launch by our regular clients/supporter/blog readers, friends and family, without which we wouldn't be able to do what we love, for this we are especially grateful!"
Awww, isn't that lovely. All Power to Etsy, and wonderful, creative, talented people like Bonzie and her Auntie Ger!
Thank you so much Bonzie for sharing with me details about your beautiful designs.