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Roseann makes your fashion dreams come true

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Magic touch: Roseann Alick, owner of REA Fashions, loves helping clients fit into their dream dress (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“I need a miracle.” That is what people say when they walk through Roseann Alick’s door.

The 49-year-old has been stitching up fashion emergencies for the past 18 years.

“This lady came in who had abdominal surgery,” said Mrs Alick, owner of REA Fashions. “She was getting married, but the problem was her stomach was badly swollen.

“We couldn’t even touch her stomach to do measurements and that sort of thing until two weeks before her wedding.”

Mrs Alick worked some magic with a panel in the back, and the bride was able to walk down the aisle in her dream dress.

She also alters a lot of prom dresses for teenagers at her Chancery Lane store.

“They buy these prom dresses online that really don’t fit their body type,” Mrs Alick said. “Often the dress is designed for a grown woman, and these girls haven’t fully developed yet.

“Their mothers have paid $300 or more for the dress, so it needs to fit.”

She usually says, ‘I’ll do my best’ while thinking, ‘How am I going to pull this off?’. Sometimes in the dead of night she will wake up with the answer to a particularly tricky alteration problem.

Mrs Alick says she adores seeing a client’s expression when they put on their dress and it fits.

“They just look ecstatic,” she said. “That is what I love.”

When doing a fitting she quietly offers advice, such as to avoid wearing dresses with large prints if you are tiny as they will overwhelm you, and if you are going to order an outfit online, pay attention to phrases such as ‘fitted’ or ‘loose fitting’. These indicate how something is going to fit.

Discretion is the better part of valour, even in the fashion miracle business.

“Sometimes a bride will come in to have her dress altered, and it turns out she is secretly planning to elope,” Mrs Alick said. “I don’t say anything, to anyone.”

Sometimes her clients come straight from a store with a new outfit, looking for advice.

“A lot of people aren’t very good at telling if something suits them,” she said. “They want to know what I think of it, and whether I can do anything with it.

“If I think it doesn’t suit them they take it right back to the store and exchange it. A lot of times I alter it though.

“Sometimes people say, ‘My gosh, I’ve been wearing my clothes wrong all this time. I didn’t know this was how it was supposed to fit’.”

Mrs Alick said a lot of clients struggled because some companies like to play sizing games.

“For example, an outfit might be marked as a six when it’s really bigger,” she said. “The customer buys it because it makes them feel good to think they fit into a smaller size.”

She advises trying things on, to make sure they fit.

The poor economy has had its advantages. Clients now come in with bags of clothes they want altered.

“They can’t afford to shop so much anymore so they’re going shopping in their own closets,” she said.

“Sometimes they want me to come to them to have a look at what they have.”

As a young woman she dreamed of going into marketing or fashion buying and designing her own line of clothing.

“To be honest, alterations were at the far end of what I wanted to do,” she said.

She studied fashion design and construction at Bermuda College and eventually got a bachelor’s degree in fashion marketing from the American College in London, England.

Once home, however, she struggled to get her foot in the door in marketing or fashion buying.

For years she worked at Cecile’s before starting her own business. This gave her more time to devote to her son, Malik, who is now 18.

Her husband, Melvin, died earlier this year due to heart problems.

“That was very hard,” she said. “I am hanging on, though. We are God-fearing people and my husband always said when the Lord was ready for him, he was ready.

“It is the people you leave behind that is the issue.”

The crisis made her take stock of her life and the direction of her career.

“My husband always wanted me to do more with my own designs,” she said.

“Right now, I do the odd dress or skirt for someone and I have a few dresses I’ve made for myself. I’d like to have my own clothing line and market it throughout Bermuda and the Caribbean. I don’t want it to be just a local thing.

“My style is casual wear. I think I am going to focus on that more when my son is off to college in September.”

• For more information, call 292-1341 or visit REA Fashions on Facebook or at www.reafashionsonline.com

Roseann Alick says customers come to her Chancery Lane store with bags of clothes that need to be altered (Photograph by Akil Simmons)