Quality Clothing… at one time it was accessible to all and not just from the Paris Couture houses. Your only options today are to buy high-end designer pieces, quality vintage (High Low, hopefully!) or to work with a trained tailor. HLV recently spoke with Angela Zdelar, the owner of ITALIAN FASHION SCHOOL in Pasadena. After 400 hours of instruction her students are ready for the fashion industry!
HLV: Can you talk about the quality difference between a custom piece of
clothing and a modern off the rack dress?
There is a big difference in the quality between a custom piece and an off-
the-rack piece. If a custom piece has been created by a person that really
knows their job, the two can not even be compared. How can something
that is made using body form measurements and is mass-produced be of
better fit and quality than something that’s done specifically using your
measurements? When a piece is custom made, it means that you will be
trying it on in the process of making it, to make sure it has the right fit but
also the right comfort. That is something you cannot get from a store bought
HLV: The quality of a dress made in the 1960s vs. a comparable dress made
now is night and day. Why is that?
The quality of our clothing has significantly changed. That is something that
I miss a lot. Today, everything has to be done fast, from the pattern to a
complete garment. Companies are cutting on cost in every way possible,
from production time to using the minimum amount of things to complete
the garment. That’s just one reason that affects the quality of our clothing
today. Another is we’ve lost the sense of what well-fitted clothing really is.
By this I don’t mean that it just looks good on you, but that it also fits well
which means that, for example, when you’re wearing a garment, no matter
if its a dress or pants, you feel the same no matter if you are standing or
sitting, they feel good on you either way. And those dresses made back in
1960s, yes, they really were something special. From every aspect.
The fabrics, the fit, the style, the finishing, they had it all! I remember my
mom’s dresses and suits. (I always dreamt that one day they would be mine
but moths got a hold of them before I could!) Today, with all the different
kind of fabrics, from non stretch to stretch, our clothes do not fit the same
as they did back in days. Now everything looks the same, everybody is
wearing the same thing. I don’t understand why everybody is copying each
HLV: Why did you start the Italian Fashion School?
Just the things I mentioned were already reason enough for me to open this
school. Add to that my love of teaching and passing on my knowledge to
others… that made my dream come true. Actually, my students are making
my dream come true. And people that walk into my school to ask if I can
make something for them or alter a garment they already have or buy the
shirt or dress that are in the window are just the proof that I was right. So
that is why I opened Italian Fashion School.
HLV: When did your love of fashion start?
My love for fashion, I think it goes as far as I can remember. Now, that does
not mean that I always had and was wearing only things I liked or wanted.
My family was not rich and some times I had to wear things I didn’t like or
think they fit the way I was taught they should. So, by being aware off how I
wanted my clothes to fit me, I started altering them and I made them fit the
way I wanted. So, well fitted clothes have always been a must have for me
and I see there are a lot of people out there that feel the same about clothes
as I do.
HLV: Can you explain what makes your school so unique?
Well, there are a couple of things that do differentiate my school from
others. As the name itself says, I do teach the Italian way of making
patterns, and making clothes. We all tell the difference when we see
something that is made in Italy. It stands out.
Another thing is, some people want to learn just skills, not necessarily go to
fashion college. Some are looking to be able to make clothes for themselves
but others already have a whole line of clothing sketched and are eager to
be able to make their own patterns and samples. Some already finished
college, some are studying something totally different from fashion but want
to know this skill as well. So I think my school gives people an extra
opportunity, especially since they can pick their own schedule (as long as
there is room for the time and day they choose).
HLV: What is the “Italian way of making patterns”? What other ways or
styles of pattern making are there?
Italians do know how to do it well, they do get the fit, the style, the fabrics
(that part maybe not as much as they used to, but they still do). They just
know how to make the garment fit right since they’ve perfected those
pattern making skills into the finest details. And I haven’t seen it anywhere
done as detailed as it’s done there. Yes, many others make fine clothing but
Italians do keep pushing the bar just a bit further and always make
something better than others. They are inventors – and that shows even in
the pattern making.
HLV: What’s the price difference between a high-end off-the-rack dress and
a custom one created one by a local dressmaker?
Price, as always, is affected by many factors, complexity and details of a
garment make a big difference but in general, price is similar.
HLV: And why did you choose Pasadena for your school?
A couple of things helped me make that decision. I have always liked
Pasadena. I grew up in Europe and there is, for me, no other place in
southern California that reminded me more of Europe than Pasadena.
The architecture is the main reason I am in Pasadena. Another one is people
still walk the streets here and I really love that!
And one more reason was I didn’t want to be in downtown LA but didn’t
want to be too far from Fashion District either since things from there are
needed for school and students all the time. So by being in Pasadena, I feel I
am at the right place…