NEW BUSINESS: Couture fashion designer opens in Ipswich
WHEN James Weeks was just a young boy he spent hours watching beautiful fabric being transformed into elegant ball gowns, and dresses covered in sequins and jewels.
Back in those days it was cheaper to make clothes than it was to buy them and there was no shortage of talent among his family.
His grandmother was a tailor and his mother a dressmaker, who crafted outfit after outfit for James' sisters.
For most of his adult life James, 57, worked as a nurse but now - after a health scare - has moved into a new career, one that has always been his passion.
James has just finished a fit out of his new shop at Eastern Heights, called James Bespoke Couture, and you won't see racks of generic dresses hanging in the windows.
This fashion designer makes everything to order, mostly occasion outfits including wedding dresses and racewear, and each item of clothing is unique.
"I used to enjoy making things for friends," James, who dabbled in fashion design during the 1980s as a bit of a hobby, said.
"They'd show me pictures in magazines and I would copy it for them.
"Then I went to TAFE in the late '80s and studied design and apparel production.
"That led to me making garments for boutiques in Paddington and Ashgrove (in Brisbane).
"But I was young and got bored with it. I was too frightened to take that step and throw away my nursing career and really have a go as a designer.
"I think I was also a bit disillusioned with the fashion industry. I was still doing things for friends and family and then over recent years I've been thinking I'd really like to get back into it."
Opportunity came knocking when James finished up at his most recent job teaching for a private training organisation and began thinking of business ideas.
He pitched a few to his partner, who was a little dismissive until James suggested opening his design boutique creating one of pieces.
"Once I said that, he was like yes! So I figured I had to do it," James quipped.
Like other artistic people, James often wakes up in the middle of the night with an amazing idea for a new garment or style he wants to try out.
He describes his style as very formal and very structured, and he makes everything from start to finish including designing his own patterns.
"I love a big skirt," James said.
"The bigger the better, particularly a big, full wedding gown. Something sleek and stylish where the fabric is doing the talking.
"It's the fabric and the way it's cut that really makes a garment stand out."
James Bespoke Couture is on Grange Rd, Eastern Heights.