ABOUT JILL ALEXANDER
MADCAT is my personal vision of Fashion. After a lifetime gaining invaluable skills through working in the fashion industry as a designer, pattern cutter and illustrator, and then many years teaching drawing and fashion design, I am now following my dream.
My career began when I graduated as one of the youngest students on the Hons Degree programme at the world-famous St Martin’s School of Art in London, England. This amazing opportunity fuelled my love of fashion design and I embarked on a 40 year career within the Fashion Industry.
I moved to New Zealand in 1994 to develop the Fashion Course at NMIT and started the MADCAT fashion label in 2002 with a small team of machinists.
The screenprinted textiles soon formed a distinctive part of the MADCAT collections, several of which we entered into the NZ Fashion Week. In 2012 I decided to work by myself, alongside a talented group of contractors. I moved away from designing complete seasonal collections to focusing on the MADCAT skirts which are screen printed by hand, just a few at a time, on the print tables in my workshop at Founders Park.
I draw all of my designs at my desk at home overlooking the Nelson Haven. My inspiration comes from my history of costume books, my own garden, fashion magazines and images discovered from the internet. I carefully consider the placement of the pattern for each individual garment to ensure it is perfectly placed between the elements e.g. waistband and the hem, ensuring each garment is perfect for every order. My original artwork ensures that all MADCAT skirts are individual, limited edition works of art that are quirky but above all practical, comfortable to wear and easy to care for. They are the perfect garment for work, leisure and travelling.
To accompany the MADCAT skirts I also make some winter and summer tops, but these are limited designs and need to be snapped up as they are not usually repeated.
My other interest is my art work and figure drawing which I sell as framed pictures in The Arty Gallery in Trafalgar Street, Nelson. This year I have been inspired to take up oil painting and I have produced a range of paintings depicting large, informal groups of flowers. These are also available from The Arty Gallery.
In 2004 my love of the History of Costume led to making meticulously constructed, historically inspired corsets. Originally aimed at fashionable quirky office attire or sexy evening wear they have remained part of my range as Bridal Wear, very popular with Steam Punk themed weddings. More details can be found on the Bridal Wear page of this website.
I am proud to be part of the worldwide movement that supplies classic quality clothing that can be worn for a long time, in an effort to stop the amount of unwanted, “surplus to requirements” clothing that inevitably end up in landfills. My garments are made to last and to accommodate your individual requirements. Feedback from my customers evidences that their skirts are well worn, favourite garments that go on and on. The majority of my sales are repeat orders.
MADCAT garments are only available directly from this website or personally from myself at the Nelson Saturday Market or from my workshop in Founders Park. This direct selling approach enables me to ensure my high quality, locally made garments remain affordable.
On a personal note……….. I love my life here in Nelson, the sunniest city in New Zealand. I have a cosy, comfortable cottage that overlooks the sea and the mountains beyond. I spend my days designing, painting and tending my wild and beautiful garden and attentive chickens. I have a beautiful elderly cat Theo, who loves to sun himself on my desk for most of the day. I belong to the Arty Gallery co-operative, a group of talented Nelson artists and I work in the gallery on Tuesday mornings.
I develop new art work for the MADCAT skirts during the winter months and screen print each week throughout the year so I can make up individual skirts to order within a short timescale.
I reflect on some wonderful memories of working in the fashion industry where the highs were high but the lows were too low. I appreciate that this experience built my resilience which has set me in good stead to run my own business, but ultimately I cherish my current lifestyle which is much more in line with my personal passion, wishes and talents.