Ann Clarke and Company focusing on bespoke elegance
With talent, faith, intent and purpose, Anita Sutherland went from adding glam to her dolls’ dresses as a child to making stunning pieces for her clients as she got older. Today, this creative continues to follow her heart, showcasing flair and finesse as a local fashion designer. It is her hope to redefine the way others view women’s wear.
“Fashion is a form of self-expression that is highly driven by personality, mood, culture and customs. But, more than that, fashion is a complex, multifaceted psychological process that is represented in how I dress, wear make-up and how I intricately accessorise clothing to suit my taste and style,” the designer and owner of Ann Clarke and Company told Living.
Her signature looks, reflected in her brand, include jumpsuits, slacks, pearls, flowy dresses, flared tops, and vintage-style midi-dresses. These style selections were driven by the inspiration to create easy-going looks that captured opulence in every confident stride.
At a young age, Sutherland witnessed her mother, a seamstress, make magic out of fabric, not just for others but for her dolls as well. The young artist in the making would use neon and puff paint to accentuate those outfits.
She took her passion for fashion all the way to HEART Academy, pursuing a dressmaking course in 2014. By 2017, she was well on her way to having her own clothing line, putting her designing skills to the test and making memorable apparel for others.
This became the catalyst for a fulfilling career as both a fashionista and designer. “I do bespoke designs currently for my clientèle. But, from an individual standpoint, I am a lover of vintage fashion. There’s a level of sophistication that prevailed in the vintage fashion era which speaks to the very core of my being,” she explained.
The words which best describe Sutherland’s style are a staple acronym: bold, elegant, sassy and timeless (BEST). “I enjoy wearing bright colours to accentuate an outfit, and African prints to lift my mood and those I come in contact with. By virtue of the fact that I am an heir of the kingdom of God, I am royalty and so I dress accordingly. I have an affinity for pearls, brooches, tweed clothing, vintage-style dresses with bishop or empire sleeves. Clothing should show your personality, so why not highlight it? And it is so important to have pieces that are high-quality, versatile, stylish and that will remain relevant irrespective of the current trends,” she declared.
With her biggest obstacle to date stemming from sourcing quality fabric at an affordable rate, Sutherland believes in ‘gifting’ her clients the very best in luxury. “My strategy to overcome this hurdle has been to explore other fabric alternatives that provide the same luxurious look and feel,” she said.
Understanding that one size or one style doesn’t fit all when it comes to fashion, the designer has made it her point of duty to guide her clients through consultation, asking pertinent questions and making prudent decisions that align with choices and budget. “I also empower my clients so that they can select the appropriate style that will not only accentuate their body type but will make them happy in the long run. Blowing a budget to purchase one dress will create stress that could have been avoided. The key is to know which body type shape you fall in, like rectangle, inverted triangle, hourglass, pear or apple, and work on your style from there,” she noted.
Listing her top five must-haves in her closet as palazzo pants, jumpsuits, midi and maxi dresses, black jeans and tweed jackets, she advises others looking to pursue their passion for fashion to “go after your dreams, create a plan with the desired goals in mind, press forward, pray for guidance and never lose faith”.
When she is not making runway dreams a reality, this wife and mother is busy creating smiles as a certified beauty therapist, specialising in bridal and corporate make-up. “I’m also a wedding and events planner, image consultant and soft skills trainer,” she said.
Her plan going forward is to take male apparel for a spin and become a global brand that transcends cultural and geographical borders.