About The Founder & Creator


The Vintage Couturiere Olivia Torma

My Philosophy

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.
The Vintage Couturiere


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