Colette Wasdahl’s vision for a fashion design studio is thriving in Canton
Growing up, Colette Wasdahl wasn’t one to sit at her mother’s side to watch her sew. The fifth child of eight, Colette said she preferred playing outside at the time. Her mom sewed for the family, usually after children were tucked into bed at night.
“She sent us to bed early, then would wash off the kitchen table and lay out her fabric and cut. I never saw patterns being cut, but I would lay in bed and I would imagine how I would wrap the fabric around the body and then unwrap it to see how you would take that two-dimensional piece of fabric and make it three-dimensional.”
That must have worked for her — today Colette works as a fashion designer. She opened a fashion design studio/vintage clothing store in Canton in September. Her mom didn’t have the patience to teach her to sew, she said, “so I taught myself.”
Wasdahl did custom clothing for most of her career in Rochester, Minn., where she grew up. Studying fashion design at Kent State University, she put her ideas of new ways to make fabric come together to good use. She pointed out a dress in her store that she designed that even her professors didn’t understand until she was done.
“My professor would come and watch me working on it, but still didn’t understand where I was going with it,” Wasdahl said.
She’s hoping to bring some of those fresh ideas to Canton with her new store.
“I want to see what Canton wants,” she said. “I have a lot to offer, but I want to see what my clients want.”
Many of the items she has designed are on display in her impressive downtown showroom/design studio — and most fit her.
“I am my own muse,” she said.
She enjoys working with fabrics made from hemp, bamboo, organically-grown cotton and even vegan silk. The most eco-friendly of her work is in vintage clothing.
“What I do is take a clothing item (from another era) and remake them, taking down the shoulder pads or taking up the sleeves, adding darts, and making the item more contemporary.”
She does a lot of remaking clothes, which means she takes apart the clothing item and redesigns it to suit her client. When redesigning an item, she starts with sketches to find out what the client wants so there are no surprises when the piece is finished — and both she and the client are happy with the results.
“I love it when I am done with the piece,” she said. “It turns into something wonderful when it is done, and my satisfaction comes from a job well done.”
She also designs original pieces such as her wedding dress, which was made from vegan silk. “It has one seam, and it goes around (the front) and finishes in the back. It has no darts and no side seams. It is made for a specific body from beginning to end.”
Alterations, she said, are also very time-consuming. She said she would rather redesign a clothing item than alter it, but said she has done a lot of alterations for her customers over the years.
In addition to creating in her new space, Colette also teaches sewing and design based on what her students want to learn. Claudette Hankins, a client, said Colette brings new life into the fashion that she touches.
“It is hard to find someone who can look at your body and know what works for you, be it your thighs, height or waistline,” Hankins said. “She will not let you buy something if it won’t work for you,” said Hankins.
“I love her. She is great.”
Colette has done a few pieces for Hankins, including remaking a kimono Hankins had hanging in her closet.
“I have several, but they are sitting in the closet. I took one to her, she drew out the style she thought would best fit my body, and she remade it into something I can wear as a dress or a jacket or coat,” Hankins said. “Colette is one of those designers who cannot only look at you and see what works for your body, but what colors look good on you, and she will take the time to sketch it out for you on the spot. The best part is, it will come out fabulous.”
COLETTE WASDAHL LLC
236 Walnut Ave. NE, Canton
Located on the second floor
Closed Sunday-Tuesday, Wednesday-Friday: 11 a.m.- 7 p.m., Saturday: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Store also open by appointment