Wired Women: Colette Chretien

12:49 PM

Wired Women profiles successful women with ties to Boston who are pursuing their passions. These women serve as an inspiration not only to myself, but to women and girls everywhere who are eager to make waves in their field. Meet Colette Chretien; a New England clothing designer, ethically sourcing and creating feminine, versatile dresses on Cape Cod. Learn more about Colette and her label, La Fille Colette below...

Colette Chretein of La Fille College Portraits with Models

Style Wire: Being a fashion designer is every girls dream! What gave you the confidence to set out on this adventure?
Colette Chretein: I think it has a lot to do with how nurturing and supportive of my goals my parents have always been. They are both entrepreneurs themselves and have never pressured me to get a "normal" job. It's always been my dream to have my own fashion line, and having their support behind me made things a lot less scary starting out.

SW: Has fashion been in your genes from the get go? How did you know designing was in your future? 
CC: I think so, yes! As a toddler, I would get so much satisfaction out of putting together my own wacky outfits, and as soon as I could draw, I was designing pouffy little princess gowns. When I made my own prom dress when I was 16, that was a big moment for me. I thought then that maybe this could be a career that was going to make me happy in life.

SW: How did you come up with the name for your label?
CC: Like all designers, I was thinking about who my customer is– who my "girl" is. My name is French, so I played around with the idea of who the Colette girl is, in French, "fille" being French for girl.

SW: What's your favorite piece you've ever created and why? 
CC: My Cleo dress from my first season is still one of my favorites. Everyone loves how easy it is to wear, while still making a big impact with its design details. I love watching people try that style on and loving how they look in it!

SW: You put a lot of thought into the fabrication of your pieces, what do you look for in garments when you're shopping off the rack? 
CC: First I think about my immediate reaction to it. I never buy things I'm only lukewarm about. And I can justify a lot to myself if my first reaction is "I can't leave here without this piece!" After that, I look into the craftsmanship that went into making it to see if I think it will last a long time. I check the seams, the inside, and what it's made of. I try not to go into fast fashion stores, so that eliminates any temptation for me to buy something that was made in an unethical way.

SW: Where do you find inspiration for your designs season after season?
CC: I never know when or where it will hit me. Sometimes a dress just pops into my head fully designed, and sometimes it's a lot more work, and back and forth on a design. Is there a season or occasion you love designing for? Why? I love designing dresses I imagine people will wear as guests to weddings. At my age, it's our main reason to get dressed up, and so many people complain about not having the right thing to wear to weddings. I love putting out a style that's versatile enough to look super polished at a wedding, but that wouldn't make you feel overdressed when you wear it to a more low-key event. I don't like the idea of having dresses you can only wear to one kind of event. The other thing I love about weddings is the dancing! So it's really important to me that you can move in my dresses and they'll be comfortable all night. …

SW: When you're not dreaming up new designs where can we find you?
CC: I love to be at the beach in the summer and skiing in the winter! …

SW: What's your favorite way to spend a day in Boston?
CC: On a nice day, I love walking around and meeting up with friends for some shopping on Charles St or Newbury, and grabbing a drink at a cute restaurant's patio. Our nice weather is so short, you gotta make the most of it!

SW: What's the best piece of advice you can offer young girls who want to start their own line? 
CC: Think hard about whether you only want to design clothes or if you want to be an entrepreneur and deal with every aspect of the business on a daily basis– marketing, sales, accounting, etc. For me, the amount of time spent actually designing is pretty small. If designing is all you are interested in, I would definitely recommend thinking about working under an existing brand– more time spent designing, and you won't have to worry as much about day-to-day operations. It turns out that I have loved learning new things about this industry and running a business in general, but I definitely didn't consider all the things I would actually be doing before starting the company! If you think running your own business sounds like a rewarding challenge, I say follow your dreams! There are more brands out there than ever, but no one else has your specific aesthetic or ideas.

For more from Colette and La Fille Colette, check out her website or follow along with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

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