When you come to visit fashion designer Theresia Grimminger in her workshop in Seefeld, you will meet three other beings first: Stella, a well-fed, light-coloured Golden Retriever, slowly wagging her tail, Schnuppe, a fluffy white Maltese with a high-pitched voice, and a 16 year old feline, graciously striding through the room as if it were her catwalk – literally - and she still her young self. It is only after passing this triumvirate that you get to meet Theresia Grimminger. Today, the fashion designer wears glasses in frog green, a blue and white striped top and red lipstick. As she shakes our hands, her animal friends calm down and go to rest on their sofa to relax after the excitement that inevitably comes with new visitors.
“I just love it here. My pets are around and I can step outside to the garden whenever I feel like it,” says Theresia about her studio that she set up right next to the house where she lives. The studio is everything you expect a fashion designer’s workshop to be: There are dressmaker’s mannequins with half-finished dresses pinned to them, drawers full of buttons in all colours, shapes and materials, a sewing machine that’s busy most of the time and fashion magazines and fabrics – gemmed and sequined and lacy ones. It is the empire of a creative mind that loves to come up with ever new designs. “I just go with whatever idea crosses my mind. I do my designs quickly so that I can get them out of my head,” the designer explains. It all started in secondary school, when she was about 13. Young Theresa finished the dress her handicrafts teacher had assigned her to sew at lightning speed and then went on to make herself a bikini while the others in her class were still trying to get the last stitches done on their dresses. “That’s when it dawned on me that this could be something for me,” Theresia Grimminger recounts.
Inspired by nature
After apprenticing at Modesalon Romy, a fashion studio in Innsbruck, Romy, who was born in Seefeld, worked in Munich for many years, where she also met her future husband. Still, Seefeld was always somewhere on her mind and finally she returned to run a boutique together with a business partner. After three years they went separate ways when Theresia decided it was time to start something on her own. “In my bedroom, I have this huge window looking out on the mountains, and every single day I have to pinch myself to realise how lucky I am to call this my birthplace and home.” One of her mannequins wears a folkloristic apron with an old photograph printed on it – it shows her grandparents against the backdrop of an impressive mountain scenery. The apron is part of a collection giving “tradition a new twist” and “showcasing the beauty of the region,” explains the designer. An other mannequin is dressed in a printed coat inspired by an artwork of a friend. It is important to be in touch with others, says Theresia Grimminger, referring to the “Kunst am See” project in Seefeld, where artists from the region come together to connect and show their works. Very often, she adds, the right people just come along at the right time. “I meet all kinds of people, from totally crazy to super ladylike. They just happen to find me.”
The Three Muses of Theresia
Theresia Grimminger sews evening gowns, wedding dresses and traditional costumes. And coats and trousers and “pretty much everything. I also do alterations or fix a button if someone needs me to do that. No job is too small for me.” she smiles. And what about her own style? She calls it classic, with Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Doris Day being her style icons. “I always say, you can wear my clothes for some time and then put them away for a few years and then wear them again.” And even though her creations with all their little gems and feathers look so delicate, they are all washable. It’s something Theresia really cares about. “I find it so annoying when I buy some fabric only to discover that I can’t wash it at home!” This kind of pragmatism may not be common in the fashion industry, but it did lead to award-winning creations: For example, Theresia Grimminger came in third at the Haute Couture Austria Award – three times.
Everyone who has ever entered Theresia’s studio and garden can easily see why she loves to be there. The atmosphere is just so good, and that’s not only due to the fresh air. Everything hear says YES – yes to being creative, yes to making dreams come true, yes to getting lost in what you love to do. Yes to life in its entirety. “I was diagnosed with cancer at 30 and then again 11 years later. Ever since I see life differently, but my love for fashion has not faltered. Fashion is my life.” This love and dedication is tangible throughout her studio, her garden with its peaceful pond, all the way to the entrance where Stella, Schnuppe and Mausi the cat wait for us on our way out. For sure, Marilyn, Audrey and Doris would have loved this place too.