Whidbey’s Lovie Couture Appears on Stage with the Seattle Symphony

Posted in Feature, More Stories, Music, Second Chance, Visual Art

BY NATALIE OLSEN
Whidbey Life Magazine contributor
February 11, 2015

Gloria

Gloria Ferry-Brennan wearing gown by Brenda Lovie at “Gloria!” concert Feb. 6, 2015 (sketch by Sue Van Etten)

Whidbey Island residents have seen Brenda Lovie’s creations worn by violinist Gloria Ferry-Brennan, both at last year’s launch party for the first print edition of “Whidbey Life Magazine” and last weekend’s sold-out “Gloria!” concerts. On Saturday morning, Feb. 14, Lovie will see her latest custom gown make an appearance on Seattle’s Benaroya stage when Ferry-Brennan performs with the Seattle Symphony.

Lovie began sewing at the age of four and iceskating at nine. She moved to Colorado at 16 to train as a skater, competing in national skating competitions before an injury ended her Olympic dreams. However, she stayed involved with the sport as a costume designer and coach. After studying at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Lovie took over her mother’s iceskating apparel business.

After starting her first company, Lovie worked with the non-profit group “Figure Skating in Harlem”, outfitting the 75-member team. Since then she has designed and sewn several thousand custom costumes for synchronized iceskating teams and competitive dance and figure skaters.

Brenda working on dress for Seattle Symphony concert (photo by David Welton)

Brenda working on dress for Seattle Symphony concert (photo by David Welton)

At one time, Lovie Couture was outfitting some 50 teams per season. Now that Lovie is making costumes on her own, she figures she’ll do ‘only’ five teams per year. (Each team has 15-20 members.) To assist her, her husband John—the other half of Lovie Couture—put into place a software program capable of pattern design, grading and marking. After taking 15 or so measurements from each team member, Brenda Lovie can print out perfect custom-fitted patterns.

Brenda with posters of Lovie Couture costumes created for “Precisely “Right,” a New Jersey synchronized ice skating team  (photo by David Welton)

Brenda with posters of Lovie Couture costumes created for “Precisely Right,” a New Jersey synchronized ice skating team (photo by David Welton)

“I love the process of working with my customers to design the best custom costumes for them,” Lovie said. Her own performing experience combined with her designing/sewing skills allows her to achieve maximum comfort and perfect fit. In each costume she makes, she aims for a combination of softness against the skin and freedom of movement.

Violinist Gloria Ferry-Brennan described Lovie as, “incredible to make designs so flattering, and I feel good in them. I don’t have to worry while I’m playing.”

Lovie’s next projects include designing for ballroom dancers and high-end custom couture, sewing a bridal gown designed by her newly engaged daughter, Isabelle, and traveling to Dover, England to study Tambour embroidery, a complicated beading technique originating in Luneville, France during the 19th century.

Beading the top of the dress for this weekend’s Seattle Symphony performance (photo by David Welton)

Beading the top of the dress for this weekend’s Seattle Symphony performance (photo by David Welton)

In addition to a packed schedule, Lovie manages to find time to mentor a South Whidbey High School student in fashion design three days a week. She’s also beginning a two-year term as co-chair of the Whidbey Island Surface Design Group  and continues serving as a board member of the Washington Clay Association. She has been working with clay for ten years and has studied with Whidbey’s Robbie Lobell of Cook on Clay.

Where would she like to see her designs make an appearance in the future?

“Carnegie Hall,” she said with a smile.

Brenda Lovie can be reached at brenda.lovie@loviecouture.com while her website is under construction. Check out Lovie Couture on Facebook.

Brenda at one of the nine machines in her atelier. photo by David Welton

Brenda at one of the nine machines in her atelier (photo by David Welton)

Photo at the top: Brenda Lovie in her Clinton atelier (photo by David Welton)

Natalie Olsen, a fiber artist and writer, performed with her college choir in Carnegie Hall. She wore a loose, black choir robe.

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