You know her from Big Brother, The Circle, and MixFM, and now Chrissie Swan is about to add fashion designer to her already full dance card.
Tired of flicking through clothing racks that wouldn’t look out of place on a Florida retiree, Chrissie Swan set about designing her own clothing range, ‘The Chrissie Swan Avella’ collection, exclusively for Big W.
Nicky spoke with the radio host/television host/columnist/author and mum-of-three (inhale) to chat about how she made it her mission to help women find clothes that fit well and that are fashionable, without the huge price tag.
Firstly, congratulations on the range. How did it come about? Did Big W approach you?
Like many plus sized women I have found it so frustrating trying to find clothes that make me feel good. I mean, it’s really tough. You might be lucky to find one or two pieces you like if you have the patience of Jobe to trawl through a hundred racks filled with clothes which make you look like you’re moving to a retirement estate in Miami, Florida. The best I could expect after a shopping expedition was a feeling of ‘I suppose that’ll do,’ but I wanted a feeling of ‘Wahoooo!’
So I begged Big W to help me with it and thankfully they agreed. The first collection is small and it’s going to get better and bigger every season.
How involved were you in the design process?
Right from the start Big W said they wanted me to be involved in all aspects of design. My fingerprints are all over it. The whole creative process has been a dream. They wanted me to have control over it and they mean it. I can honestly say that I wear everything that is in the range myself. That was my filter. If I don’t love it, it doesn’t make the cut. I would never agree to putting my name on something that I wouldn’t wear myself.
Obviously, I’m working with some really talented fashionistas who have their eye on international style trends and fabrics and we bring the whole thing together as a team.
Was clothing design something you previously considered or imagined you’d ever do?I’ve always been interested in fabrics and design and I know a lot about fashion as in my 20s I worked in a fashion agency, and I managed a plus size fashion store. My best friend is a fashion designer and we had a small label together, so I know my viscose from my cotton and and my pattern from my quick unpick.
But I never imagined it was possible to turn out something as good as this for such a great price. That’s the Big W expertise. What we have is something that has never been offered to Australian women before: great style and great quality – designs our smaller sisters take for granted and all at amazingly low prices.