Teresa’s tireless designs on dressmaking

Couturier Teresa Zarlenga… “My first love has always been designing and creating my own clothes, which I have been doing since my teenage years.” Photo by Danielle Nohra

DURING the time Teresa Zarlenga was growing up dressmakers weren’t widely appreciated in Italy.

This made things complicated for Teresa, who arrived in Australia with her Italian family when she was three.

Her parents wanted her to have a good education and career, and that didn’t include clothes design.

After school Teresa became a cartographer, drawing maps in Adelaide, but it wasn’t long before she gave into her natural urge – to become a couturier.

“I used to work eight hours a day and then would work another four making clothes,” she says.

But it wasn’t enough, Teresa wanted to do that type of work full time.

“My first profession was cartography, but my first love has always been designing and creating my own clothes, which I have been doing since my teenage years,” she says.

And with a lot of determination she put herself in a financial position that allowed her to leave Adelaide and start afresh in Canberra.

“When I was 16 my family came to Canberra for a holiday and as soon as I saw it I knew I’d live here,” she says.

Arriving as a 37-year-old to her new home in 1992, but only knowing one family, Teresa started making clothes for clients who didn’t exist.

In an attempt to get customers she would get “out and about” and meet new people who would tell others about her work.

Now, at the age of 62, Teresa still has the same passion for her job.

She sets herself work hours and designs “classic” clothes from the studio in her home at Red Hill.

As a couturier and stylist it’s not just about the clothes. Teresa provides a complete consultation on wardrobe co-ordination to complement a person’s personality, lifestyle and figure.

“I encourage people to bring their ideas and their personal clothes so I can understand who they are,” she says.

Teresa mostly enjoys making clothes for professional and business women.

“I like to make clothes that are classic and then there’s opportunities for mixing and matching,” she says.

“Because of the timeless design, beautiful fabrics and craftsmanship of my creations, they can be enjoyed for years and years.

“I wouldn’t make something that I don’t believe in. That’s why I’d never have a shop because of the pressure to sell stuff.

“I could not tell someone that they look nice when they don’t.”

After a lifetime of hard work Teresa believes she has achieved everything she’s wanted, nearly…

“The only thing that I haven’t been able to achieve is to find a suitable partner,” she says. “A man is the icing on the cake.”

Contact Teresa on teresa.zarlenga@gmail.com or 0450 305055.

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