With 3 young sons, a part-time “day job”, freelance work as well as running her beloved label Allitera, Caroline Choi is one busy lady.
Yet her Instagram posts reflect such a sense of tranquility. She calls it her “virtual visual diary” it's full of beautiful images she captures herself which she uses to inspire her work. From her time living in Vietnam, faded building facades, insect life, light reflections on water & a fairly recent trip to Cuba Caroline finds inspiration pretty much everywhere.
Her background in art conservation, research and curating also helps inform her work for her clothing label Allitera. Designed for the 30+ market, Allitera combines Caroline’s love of hand screen printing & uses natural fibres such as silk & linen with classic yet quirky & versatile cuts that (thankfully!) are easy to wear & care for.
I’m so very thrilled to be able to give you little further insight into this wonderful Australian textile designer & printer’s work with this interview she so graciously afforded me this week.
1. How did you get from the world of art conservation & art galleries to creating your clothing label? Why did you make the decision to go into fashion?
My background is in paintings conservation and art history, but I wouldn't say I have totally left that world. I am still open to pursuing areas of interest in those fields and feel it compliments the more hands-on approach of textile design and screen printing. My academic background in art history and understanding of materials from conservation informs this work and vice versa. Allitera is not a fashion label. In fact I think of it as opposite to that world. Fashion is trend-driven and disposable. I try to create items that are hand made, versatile and long-lasting.
2. What does hand printing your textiles yourself mean to Alllitera?
Screen printing is my happy place. I think all print making is quite wondrous & love the quality of hand printing - including happy accidents! All my designs begin from the hand - whether its a drawing, a lino-cut or a doodle!
3. What inspires your aesthetic?
Anything and everything! Nature, travel, a crumbling wall, the shimmer of the ocean, a silly comment. Faded facades, unexpected colour combinations and always art. I keep a virtual visual diary in the form of instagram documenting what inspires me!
4. Who inspires/motivates you?
Not any one person in particular. My children inspire me with their innate curiosity and creativity.
5. Being a self employed designer can seem idyllic from the outside. What’s the hardest part of your job?
Balancing the creative work I love with all the boring jobs one hates! Time is also a continual issue - with 3 roaring boys and an outside job - I have very limited time in the studio!
6. What is your proudest career achievement?
Curating an exhibition of objects collected by service people during the war in Viet Nam that were being repatriated back to their rightful owners there by a team from UNSW. (Called Operation Wandering Souls Project). It was wonderful for me to be involved in this project as Viet Nam has a very firm and dear place in my heart. I spent 3 and a half years living in Viet Nam conducting research into the contemporary art scene there. I fell in love with the people, the culture and the country. It was the culmination of my personal and professional journeys that made it so deeply satisfying.
7. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever had to do? (In life/work/ anywhere?)
Leaving Australia as a young and naive PhD candidate to commence research in Viet Nam. I landed and jumped straight on the back of a motorbike with no language skills and no idea of what lay ahead of me! After travelling from south to north over 3 months, I settled in Ha Noi where I commenced intensive language training and my total immersion into the local art scene!
8. What’s new / on the horizon for Allitera?
So many things! I always have so many ideas, and so little time!
Visit www.allitera.com.au to find out more about Caroline's current range. Allitera is also stocked in Sydney & soon to be in Melbourne, Australia at select retail outlets.
Also do indulge your sense of tranquility & take a look at Caroline's wonderful Instagram posts www.instagram.com/allitera_
All images used with permission from Allitera, except ** by Cath Derksema & * by YOU ARE BRAVE