by Vanessa Lewis
Cecilia Rebagliati's well known and successful label Cecile Bénac has become especially apparent in Vancouver's fashion industry. But what makes her more of a namesake is the zeal she holds for her work and the industry that she loves so much.
This 3rd generation knitter ran a clothing boutique in her native Peru. After arriving in Canada in the 80's, she worked for Cinema as a production manager for five years. It was there that her boss, Carole Sinclair, encouraged her to create her own label. Her position gave her the ability to learn more about the production of clothing which ignited her to follow her dreams of creating a label better known as Cecile Bénac. She enrolled at Capilano College in their textile design program as well as Vancouver Community College's fashion design program.
Twelve years ago, Rebagliati started off small with just "a few cardigans." Now, her label includes shrugs, cover-ups, tops, and cardigans. She uses a variety of yarns including cotton, linen, viscose/rayon for spring/summer and a wool blend for fall. She always tries to have a substitute for wool because "many women are unfortunately allergic to wool." Lately, she began using bamboo in her spring/summer lines because of its soft texture and sustainability. For her S/S 2010 collection, Cecile Bénac is going green! Rebagliati is introducing more eco-friendly/organic yarns. This new inspiration comes from viewing a recent Discovery Channel documentary on Earth Day which concentrated on the fashion industry's effect on the environment. She plans to outsource her yarns from Peru. Design-wise, she finds her inspiration mainly from the yarns. She likes to know how "a yarn will move" first, then she will decide on a design. In order to keep her designs current, she also takes into account popular runway trends. Her native Peru inspires her through colours and different yarns while her husband's homeland of France inspires style.
A year ago, Rebagliati began a very successful collaboration with JC Studio. It all started with the need for a cover up. Rebagliati was at JC Studio to find a dress for a friend's wedding in Paris. She found a halter dress but no cover up. She went back to her studio and created a shrug. She showed her friend, RozeMerie Cuevas of JC Studio, her latest piece. Cuevas loved them and requested a dozen for her store. By the time she returned from her trip, the shrugs were completely sold out. Now JC Studio carries various shrugs, cover-ups and cardigans that work very well with the Jacqueline Conoir line.
Rebagliati has a true passion for fashion and it shows when she speaks about it. In addition to designing, she teaches "Intro to Manufacturing" and "Design Awareness" at Blanche MacDonald. She recommends that emerging designers "start very small, put 100% into your business and grow very slowly." She also adds that it is a very difficult industry and that you need a lot of love to survive and financial backup. Her latest collection can be found at JC Studio, Fine Finds, Hum, The Velvet Room Boutique and Tutta Mia. For more information, please visit www.cecilebenacknitwear.com.