Monday, May 15, 2017

Familial Fabric~ A Feature for Mother's Day Week!

Tatiana McLane and Venice Wong; credit Christine Flower Photography

As a literary mother-daughter duo on the East Coast, we are pleased to get the opportunity to spend time talking with a fashion mother-daughter duo from the West Coast in honor of Mother's Day. There are a number of metaphoric parallels between how words and fabrics are woven together to portray story and character. With our upcoming spring-summer anniversary issue celebrating nine years, we are choosing to focus on empowerment and the individual stories we continually weave adding to the rich tapestries of our lives and heritages. Stitching together the influences of generations, we see the interconnectedness of the past, present, and future in the continuity of tradition as well as in inspiration for change and growth. In that vein, this week we explore personal and professional spheres involving the fabric of family, the threads that bind, and the heirloom quilt legacy of living the fairy tale by following the heart.

Interview with Tatiana McLane and Venice Wong by Nicole M. Bouchard

1) Both UCLA grads with a personal passion for expression through fashion, you each bring shared and unique complimentary backgrounds to the table of the Queenie4ever business. Tatiana—designer, costumer, fashion historian, model, and actress—embodies the essence of the whimsical fashion fantasy epitomized in her image and innovative imagination. Venice—partner in the entertainment law firm McLane and Wong, as well as professional stylist, and co-creator of Queenie4ever—brings an intimate knowledge of brand, entertainment industry expertise, and sense of the Hollywood aesthetic from experiences and encounters with celebrities who broke through fashion barriers. Together, you driven ladies reign over the Queenie empire.

What are the best facets of working together as a mother-daughter team, brainstorming, and fostering a fashion realm where one can embrace fun, glamour, and the ultra-feminine while being implored toward being the hero/heroine of their own fairy tales?

Tatiana McLane: Sometimes we have very different opinions and tastes so it is great that my mom can be so supportive of my dreams and provide adequate assistance, unlike many other parents. 

Venice Wong: That is true. Tatiana and I do come to the Queenie4ever creative designing table with different ideas of how a particular project we are working on should appear. But, this is a good thing. Because it reminds us that we are designing not for ourselves, but for a market. Thus, my job is to help Tatiana focus on her market's tastes based on her past successes and keeping up or at least being aware of current trends. My forte in the business/legal world is the best way that I can help Tatiana run a profitable business. With her as the creative mind behind the fashion designs, this forging of the creative daughter with the business marketing mom makes for a perfect mother-daughter business team!

2) What do you each enjoy most individually about creative expression through apparel that you feel adds to your partnership (whether through your personal experiences or outlooks that add a complimentary contrast)? For instance, how Tatiana's work as a costumer and actress for Disney's web series Descendants PopTalk as noted on her site informs her perspective on conveying character through clothing, or how Venice's work with famed performance artists influences her outlook on the formation of a signature identity through style.

TM: A favorite hobby of mine is going to concerts & dressing up as a female version of the artist. I enjoy my ability to dress for the occasion, whatever that may be, and being able to work on a constrained budget to make something look more expensive than it actually is, while my mom would rather get the most pricey items to ensure a fancy feel. 

VW: I truly take delight in playing dress up. It was always my favorite activity as a child with my mom who sewed the sweetest outfits for me from patterns and fabrics we shopped for together. I passed that mother-daughter tradition down to Tatiana. By the time she was 8 years old, she was a pro at creating marketable fashion styles using different types of fabrics based on our many hours spent scouring antique and fabric stores. She even wore antique children's clothing. Therefore, she understood how to restructure her fashion design versions to be more suitable to what a modern day customer would like.

Tatiana is used to working within a constrained budget both as a fashion designer and a costume designer. I tend to get a little overzealous on the pricing constraints as I am very attracted to what Tatiana refers to as a "fancy feel" because I am concerned about losing the quality by using cheap fabrics, etc. However, Tatiana is a genius at finding good quality for bargain basement prices. Thank goodness! Our customers can rest assured knowing they are getting great quality at budget-friendly prices. 

3) When in-between work and looking to become rejuvenated or simply bond, what are some of your favorite mother-daughter activities?

TM: My favorite memories with my mom are of us going to Disneyland. She seems to have a good time on It's a Small World the most. We spend a lot of our free time watching the latest movie releases, visiting special exhibits at museums, and of course shopping for clothes.

VW: Well it looks like Tatiana pretty much sums up how we spend our mom and daughter bonding time. In addition, we do enjoy a day at the spa. That is my favorite way to rejuvenate after a long work week.  I also really enjoy a lovely high tea party with Tatiana. It's something we have been doing since she was a little girl. We enjoy creating the menu and make all the treats ourselves! Of course, in true Queenie4ever fashion, we have a theme and dress up!

4) On the idea of the fabric of life, we had mentioned in an interview with NYT best-selling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier, the presence of fabric in a number of her novels (family quilts, tapestries, expression) and a feature from the Daily Mail where she shared items of personal significance that included fabric-covered notebooks for the research of her novels, a handmade quilt, and a cherished scarf that belonged to her mother. The question went on to tie the symbol of fabric to storytelling.

Within our own family, two of us being writers, fabric has also held significance. I taught myself to sew not many years after realizing at a young age that I wanted to write. My memories of buying yards of fabric with my mother and grandmother, immersing myself in my grandmother's rose-scented drawer of silk scarves that she would later give to me, or discussing the connotations or design elements of fabric in rooms or clothing with my mother, are amongst my precious recollections.

As a mother and daughter in the world of fashion, are there any further familial ties, such as the traditions of sewing outfits and searching antique stores mentioned earlier, concerning fabrics that have bearing on your personal and professional lives and your mother-daughter stories?

TM: Professionally, my mom has taught me a lot about fabrics. I would have never known that you can make clothing out of fabric meant for a couch. Personally, I think she influenced me to love British-style clothing and I think that both my mom and I enjoy wearing a lot of floral patterns.

VW: Fabric speaks to me, begging me to give it life. I envision fabric as adornment whether it was meant to be used for clothing or furniture. That is why it's interesting that Tatiana mentioned that I taught her to use couch fabric to make clothing because my philosophy is to "think outside of the box" when creating your masterpiece. It is a lesson Tatiana took to heart. In fact, she taught me to re-imagine the world through the eyes of a young child, who lives life as if it is a magical fashion fairy tale.

5) There is a quote on motherhood from Oregon mom Angela Schwindt that says: "While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about." In that vein, how do you each feel you've been influenced by the other in personal and/or professional spheres? What are some of the most meaningful ways in which you've changed and grown by virtue of your mother-daughter relationship?

TM: I've grown to know that most things require teamwork to ensure something is done right.

VW: When Tatiana entered my life, I began to see the world through her eyes. All of a sudden my life was filled with childlike wonderment and I realized just how many amazing things that the world had to offer. Since I am an avid reader, I began reading aloud all my favorite childhood stories to Tatiana. Her favorite stories were the fairy tales. She began to ask many questions that made it obvious she was studying details most kids I knew ignored. Soon she began making up her own stories. Not only did she ask me to write them down, but she asked me to help her draw and eventually create paper dolls of the characters in fully dressed outfits.

It was at this point that Tatiana took me by the literary hand, and I stepped through the looking glass so to speak following my young daughter, the dress up princess with a vivid imagination, down an enchanted rabbit hole that led to Queenieland. Like Tatiana taught me, most things require teamwork. Hence, we had to work as a team in order to bring to life this magical place that she created in her mind.

Tatiana is the visionary, and I helped her bring it to life to share the beauty of her fashion fairy tale as a positive role model to help empower girls to be the Queens of their own dreams. Thus, a little girl named after Shakespeare's Titania, Queen of the fairies, was able to follow her dreams into her young adulthood standing strong at the helm of her Queenie4ever fashion empire surviving the rise and fall of the fashion industry.

Queenie4ever grew as Tatiana did, as she became more scholarly about the world around her whilst fueling her mind at Stanford and UCLA to better understand the market that she was designing for. It was during this time that Tatiana discovered her talent for costume design through her involvement in TV and film as an actress. I was thrilled that Queenie4ever would have another facet to offer. Therefore, Tatiana and I are so excited to announce our newest business endeavor, the grand opening of the Queenie4ever Wardrobe and Costume Design Studio.

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Hoping all mothers out there enjoyed a wonderful Mother's Day and that the celebrations of dynamic mother-daughter bonds continue throughout the week~ WPWT Editor-in-Chief, Nicole M. Bouchard, and Assistant Editor, Denise Bouchard