I’m Olivia Torma
Thanks for dropping by to learn more about me and The Vintage Couturière. Be sure to follow me on my social media networks for regular updates and inspirational content.
About The Founder & Creator
Since 2011, Olivia has been working hard to establish herself as a respected emerging artist recognised for designing and making beautiful handmade vintage inspired couture apparel using the finest fabrics, trims and embellishments and traditional couture sewing and embroidery techniques. With qualifications in fashion design, production and tailoring and trained in the haute couture embroidery techniques of crochet de Luneville and pointe de Beauvais, Olivia has the skills, talent and passion to recreate vintage fashion for the modern day woman!
“The Vintage Couturière takes pride in designing and making beautiful handmade couture apparel using the finest materials and artisan craftsmanship. We design and make limited collections of ready-to-wear pieces and vintage reproduction clothing using authentic vintage couture patterns. We also offer bespoke couture services for discerning clientele.”
Olivia considers herself to be a niche designer and textile artist, creating unique one-of-a-kind pieces invested with much love, pride, patience and attention to detail. Many hours are invested in making a piece that is exclusive not only in design or vintage couture reproduction, but in the craftsmanship and sentimental value each piece beholds.
For Olivia, parting with any of her handmade couture pieces is symbolic of handing over a special gift to her customers who will become the custodians of her work. Olivia hopes that through this exchange her customers will appreciate and value the investment they have made in owning one of her handmade couture pieces, each one deserving to be treasured, worn and handed down for many years to come.
“I love the art and discipline of sewing and hand embroidery and the tactile pleasures they bring. My work is inspired by my love for couture sewing, haute couture embroidery, and fashion and costume design from the 18th century through to the 1960’s. Each piece I create is made using time honoured couture sewing techniques that I have researched, thoughtfully planned and meticulously executed to build my reputation as a respected emerging couture practitioner. I pay meticulous attention to the details demanded of my craft and the bespoke needs of my customers who are looking for something special and unique.
I hope you love what I do.”
I believe in creating beautiful handmade couture with conscience to tell a story – a story about the maker and its intended wearer and the time and place of its creation. Clothes should be an authentic expression of who we are, our inherent beauty and our aspirations for ourselves and the world. Museums around the world are filled with curated objects from historical periods. All are carefully selected, stored and exhibited with reverence for their value and meaning. Why can’t our living wardrobes be revered the same way?
Remember that saying “a stitch in time saves nine”? It’s so poignant now in the 21st century. The world and the fashion system is in crisis. The retail landscape is over saturated with mass produced poorly made clothes that waste precious resources and end up in landfill. The world doesn’t need more ‘throw-away’ bargains. We need more of the things that bring us pleasure and joy. Clothes that will endure with memories for many seasons and many more reasons. We need to lift the veil on our (mis)understanding of fashion and return to the legacy left before us when clothing and hand crafted goods held sentimental value. When they were worthy of their investment and care. We need to come to know exceptionally well made clothing when we see it, clothing that doesn‘t carry a guilty conscience.
As a maker I feel I have a responsibility to create couture with conscience, fulfilling a purpose on this earth with the talents I behold. I’m a designer who appreciates the process of traditional and authentic craftsmanship, original bespoke design, hand stitched finishes and a meticulous attention to detail. Every stitch I make is made with loving intention. My inspiration of choice is vintage fashion and costume designs of bygone eras. I also love the slow art of couture sewing and haute couture embroidery. My greatest pleasure is immersing myself in the design and hand making process to create something that is truly unique.
My Qualifications, Skills and Training
I learned to sew as a child from my mother. She also taught me to knit and crochet. Little did I know back then that I would fall in love with crochet as an art form of haute couture. I learned this technique first and foremost out of curiosity not long after I started my small business as a dressmaker in early 2011. My curiosity got the better of me and I luckily found an online course through Hand & Lock. I was definitely ‘hooked’! I also discovered the talented Karen Torrisi, a fellow Australian who has achieved much success in haute couture fashion houses such as Ralph & Russo and Chanel. I took classes with Karen here in Brisbane and this truly helped me excel at this challenging and demanding technique. Thank you Karen!
I enrolled into sewing, art and craft classes throughout my school life. In 1990 I completed an Associate Diploma of Arts in Fashion and Production, majoring in tailoring which led to a high achievement award. After I graduated I decided to pursue a professional career in the Australian Public Service in Canberra. During my professional career I gained two more qualifications, a Bachelor of Arts in Office Management from the University of Canberra and a Postgraduate Certificate in Museums and Collections specialising in visual culture from the Australian National University. After a few more years in Canberra and 20 years in the public service I decided to move to Brisbane, Queensland. Below are the skills, experiences and awards I have gained.
- Couture Embroidery Training (tambour beading) with Karen Torrisi at Koala Convention, Brisbane 2014
- Hand Embroidery Tuition (Crochet de Luneville) with Hand & Lock
- Advanced Design Drawing for Fashion, Whitehouse Institute of Design, Sydney.
- Illustration for Fashion, Whitehouse Institute of Design, Sydney.
- Classical Art Training, Julian Ashton Art School Sydney.
- Classical Art Drawing Training, Atelier Art Classes Brisbane.
- Crochet de Luneville hand embroidery and tuition for the application of beads, sequins and three-dimensional surface textiles to solid and sheer (tulle) textiles;
- Silk ribbon work;
- Ribbon embroidery;
- Hand smocking;
- Long and short stitch shading and colour palette selection;
- Hand applique and lace application;
- Couture sewing and soft tailoring techniques;
- Hand draping and experimentation on the mannequin;
- Sample toile production, including custom pattern design and fitting techniques;
- Embroidery pattern design, marking and framing up.
Awards and Offers
- Awarded 3rd prize in Tessuti Awards Sydney in 2013
- Offered an embroidery internship at Hand & Lock London;
- Invited to attend interview and hand embroidery competency trial at Ralph & Russo in London.
My Other Pleasures
Things I ENJOY and learned along the way
I love the art of photography and recording my work so that I can share it with others. I own a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and a Macro 100mm lense. This amazing lens has opened my eyes to the beauty of couture.
I loved to draw as a child and had a talent for it until I stopped practicing. It wasn’t until I started pursuing my creative passions again that I got back into it. It wasn’t easy to relearn. But I think I’m getting better. I love to sketch, paint and create digital art using photoshop and illustrator. I wish I could take some classes to learn them properly.
I love collecting vintage dressmaking patterns and needlework books. Beeton’s Book of Needlework is one of my favourite books. It features beautiful Victorian crochet patterns of intricate detail. Traditional crochet was invented in ancient times to adorn fabric, as done in haute couture today. The modern form of crochet in the air did not become popular until the late 18th century [source: The History of Crochet, Allfreecrochet.com]. I love the freedom this technique brings and the inspiring crochet patterns found in Beeton’s Book of Needlework.
I am in awe of the beauty of nature, especially flowers. My favourite flowers are roses cultivated by David Austin and the peony rose. I grew a species of David Austin called Wisely and had the fortunate opportunity to see it blossom and take cuttings. Sadly it couldn’t survive the hot and humid summers here in Brisbane. But I did manage to take some beautiful photos. Isn’t it beautiful! It looks like a miniature peony.
Saving the best till last! LOL…..yes, baking! Yum! Oh I love a good baked cake, scone, and choux pastries! Once upon a time I had a little boutique with workroom and would occasionally serve a decadent high tea for two. I would bake choux pastry cream puffs. They were a success. But I haven’t been able to bake a good batch ever since….boo hoo. I served them with cream, lemon curd and chocolate mousse, along with French Madeleines and my mother’s lemon pound cake. Oh and an obligatory glass of vintage sparkling Moscato Rosè and coffee!