#WeWantToKnow: Charlene Bailey
On a very chilly evening last month, I was invited to sit front row at Toronto’s first ever figure skating fashion show at the outdoor Bentway skate trail for cb. Revolution Couture, a showcase of Charlene Bailey’s figure skating costumes. I was blown away by the presentation, it was the most unique and interesting fashion show I’ve ever attended. And the outfits were stunning! Charlene is bringing elevated style to figure skating and it’s a pleasure to introduce her in today’s feature.
Charlene started figure skating when she was seven years old, a late starting age for those who typically get involved with the sport, but it became evident early on that she had serious talent at it. She immersed herself deeply into figure skating, traveling all over Ontario from her small town just to get ice time, and she eventually started participating in both singles and pairs competitions. By the end of her teen years, Charlene had a “break-up” with the sport, one that she wasn’t quite ready for, but on she went with her life, attending university and exploring what it was she wanted to do with her life. Following an eight year break from figure skating, during which time it was painful to watch the sport or even talk about it, Charlene found her way back to it when she decided to cross off one of her bucket list items and attend skate Nationals as an observer. Her grandmother, who was always a champion of Charlene and her skating career, insisted on going with her for emotional support, and afterwards brought Charlene back to her farmhouse, sat her down at the kitchen table, and pulled out a binder she made of all the little scraps of paper of Charlene’s drawings of the figure skating costumes she designed. Charlene looks back on this as her “lightbulb moment” when she knew exactly what it was she wanted to do with her future. Charlene found her way back to figure skating through fashion, and though she didn’t have any technical training in fashion design, she taught herself everything from pattern making to sewing to fabric dying, testing her creations on the ice to ensure she was making her clothing functional as well as fashionable. Most of Charlene’s work involves creating custom costumes, but she also produces a line of practical practice-wear for training. It’s now been three years since Charlene started designing figure skate-wear (as a brand) and demand for her creations has been growing ever since.
Photo credit: Danielle Earl Photography
When she isn’t designing costumes, Charlene can usually be found at the rink where she is a coach for Skate Canada and teaches students of all ages from wee babies to junior-level national competitors (many of her students modelled clothing in her figure skating fashion show, including a couple of her youngest, most adorable students!). And if not at the rink, Charlene is probably working on the magazine she is launching in April called Revolution, a figure skating fashion magazine that she is positioning as the “Vogue of skating.” Her intention with Revolution is to not only showcase fashion in figure skating, but, more importantly, to build a community where skaters can come together. At this point in her career, Charlene’s focus is on facilitating other’s people’s dreams — there’s nothing she loves more than working with kids and seeing them develop, because it reminds her of why she started skating in the first place.
Want more? Here’s what #WeWantToKnow about Charlene:
I can't start my morning without... coffee and eyebrows. Facts.
I have a weakness for... potato chips and crime scene investigation shows.
Most people don't know that I... am ABSOLUTELY petrified of drowning/being smothered (claustrophobia) and that I used to play competitive fastball.
Currently reading... The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck but then again, I've been trying to read it for like a year or more and continually get swept up in work tasks and never make time for it. If we're being real here, I'm actually reading literature related to my MAGAZINE LAUNCH, woo!
An important lesson I learned from a challenge I faced... was that it is OK to be wrong and to take responsibility for it; that it is actually a fantastic learning opportunity and that it is what you do next that really counts. It doesn't make you any less of a person nor does it make you unintelligent. Rather, gives you perspective (which equals WISDOM!)
I want... to be HAPPY :) and to act as a rising tide that lifts all ships.
Thanks Charlene, for participating in #WeWantToKnow! All the best with the launch of your magazine and hope to see your designs on a runway again soon!
#WeWantToKnow is a series published on behalf of Wantfolio Group for Want.Canada and showcases and supports the leaders and talent in the Canadian creative arts community. Visit Want.Canada for all Canadian news, blogs, photo sharing & messaging.