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Young couturier follows her childhood dream


While other kids were riding their bikes and watching movies during the school holidays, nine-year-old Clementine Miller was learning the art of sewing and busily making herself new clothes.

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Fast forward eight years and the Year 12 Mercedes College student is now planning to pursue a career in the fashion industry.

Clem, 17, said after taking a gap year she will apply to study a Creative Direction course at the prestigious Polimoda fashion school in Florence, hoping this will kickstart her childhood dream to be a fashion designer.

“I love haute couture and avante garde fashion and that is what I hope to do in the future,” she said.

“One day I will hopefully own my own haute couture fashion brand and my own fashion house and stores. I think it will be an overseas dream – I guess I have to dream big!”

Always interested in painting, arts and crafts, Clem (pictured) said from an early age she enjoyed expressing her creativity through sewing and fashion design.

“When I was nine I was introduced by a family friend to the Norwood Sewing School and I went there every school holidays for a week each time for about three years,” she explained.

“I was learning how to sew, they were teaching me what fabrics to use, what stitches to use, all the basics. The ladies there are lovely and really sparked my interest and passion for sewing.”

As her interest in fashion design grew, so did her footprint at home where she now has a studio which includes a sewing machine, interlocker, two mannequins, a rack of patterns and clothing, and a “huge table” where she can create her masterpieces. She estimates she has made “more than 200 items” of clothing for herself and others over the years.

Her penchant for all things creative was clearly evident at school and after receiving an Art award in Year 9, Clem was encouraged by Mercedes’ Student Pathways coordinator, Bill Deegan, to consider a TAFE course in Fashion Design and Technology.

She said Mr Deegan was very helpful in assisting her to enrol in the course, ensuring the Cert II and III qualifications would contribute to her SACE score. She attended TAFE every Friday in Years 10 and 11 as part of the college’s Vocational Education Training program.

With Mercedes’ graduation ball coming up in a few weeks Clem said it would have been the perfect opportunity to showcase one of her creations, however study commitments had taken priority.

“I was originally going to make my grad ball dress but I’ve run out of time,” she lamented.

“But last year I made one for my friend and it was a lot of fun. That was the first time I had done fittings on another body other than my own, drafting a pattern – it was a really cool experience and it was an amazing dress!”

In between her sewing and school commitments Clem also finds time to do some work with a local modelling agency.

“My favourite thing to do is to dress up – I love wearing gowns, getting my hair and makeup done and wearing over the top jewellery,” she said.

And while wearing and designing new clothes was a fun thing to do, Clem said she took seriously her responsibility to ensure the clothing brand does not use child labour in its manufacture.

“I make a lot of clothes from repurposed fabrics…I go to Savers, which is a huge op shop, and buy fabrics from there and then create a whole new garment from it,” she said.

“I also try to make my friends aware of the benefits of sustainable fashion versus fast fashion.”

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