Karen Lee grew up making her own clothes and this influenced her decision to make a career change in 2006. She completed a Bachelor of Design (Fashion) in 2008 and since then has been designing and making clothing for the female form.

Designs created under the Karen Lee label are for the consumer who wants to be comfortable and confident in expressing their individual style and making a garment theirs. Karen focuses on designing and creating quality, well-made clothing which enhances changing body shapes. Her designs transcend age, do not follow current trends and so have longevity.

Karen’s label is about creating clothing with simple, sophisticated lines and classic shapes. Unusual twists develop a contemporary sophistication which draws the admirer to take a closer look. Often the Karen Lee collections include exciting combinations of new and old fabrics. The label also produces one-off pieces which use leftover or scrap fabric that is stitched together to create new pieces.

Her inspiration is drawn from life experiences, observations and technical knowledge. These influences inject the unexpected into many of her designs which work from a classic, muted palette.

Q. Thinking back on 2013, what goals have you achieved that you are most proud of?
Two major achievements for 2013. The first was opening Assemblage Project, a retail women’s clothing store in Braddon. This is something I had been looking and talking about for several years. So to get there was pretty major. The second was being selected to participate in the inaugural FASHFEST 2013 event. It was exciting to see my designs on the catwalk for new audiences.

Q. What is on the agenda for Karen Lee in 2014?
Designing for FASHFEST 2014. This is a huge challenge given the time constraints, but exciting at the same time. And I want to make sure that my label, Karen Lee, and Assemblage Project continue to move ahead in exciting directions.

Q. What does it mean to you to be participating as a designer in FASHFEST 2014?
Participating in FASHFEST gives me the opportunity to showcase my designers to the Canberra community. It shows people outside of Canberra that Canberra does have a creative community. As a designer it is always great to exposure to new audiences and I think FASHFEST, as such a major fashion-forward event, provides this in a fun and exciting way.

A few just for fun:
Q. I would love to travel Australia because it is such a vast country with diverse landscapes and many of us only see the cities.
Q. My heaven on earth is family and home.
Q. If I could have one thing in the whole world it would be? I think I already have it – a happy family, a home, good health, great job and food on the table (that is not one thing is it?)
Q. My favourite designer is Alistair Trung because I bought one of his coats this week.
Q. The greatest risk I ever took was when I went canyoning in the Middle East through a canyon where we had no idea where we would end up knowing it was impossible to go back.

This is the second year Karen Lee will launch a collection at Fashfest. Soon after the inaugural event finished Karen joined with another local label to open her first retail space—Assemblage Project in Braddon, ACT.

Clothing created under the Karen Lee label is designed, made and sold in Canberra.

Thanks Karen!

Fashfest 29 April to 3 May
Canberra Airport
Tickets: www.fashfest.com.au