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12 Feb. 19 - March 4, 2011 Fashion from Page 1

Regardless of what styles might be “in” right now, Arens says women should focus on buying clothes that look nice on them and that they like.

“What I always emphasize is not every trend is for everyone but everyone can fi nd a trend that works for their body type.”

As for what’s “out,” Arens says skinny jeans and “jeggings” – leggings styled to look like tight denim jeans – have just about worn out their fashion welcome. Arens says she strives to help women stretch their clothing budgets by featuring items that are both one-of-

Designer from Page 1

“It was very frustrating,” recalls Vigneaux, who was sketching and designing clothes at an age when other children are learning to read. “Every time she was sewing, I was right there, watching her and asking many questions. She kept telling me, ‘You’re too young to learn it.’” It took years of pleading before Vigneaux’s mother

fi nally relented and taught her how to measure a body for clothes. Vigneaux sewed her fi rst dress at 9, and sold it to a cousin, who became a regular customer. She continued to sew and design dresses into adulthood, and when she and her husband, Daniel, moved to Mesa in 1992, she began working for Suzanne Novak, owner of Suzanne’s Bridal in Gilbert.

“She taught me a lot about bridal alterations,” says Vigneaux, who also sewed bridesmaid dresses, pageant gowns and Las Vegas show costumes. Although Vigneaux later accepted a corporate payroll job, her thoughts were never far from her sewing machine.

“I was always sketching a dress or a gown. When I was working at the offi ce, every time I sat down in front of the computer, it was a stressful feeling. Every time I sit down at my sewing machine, it’s enlightening. It’s relaxation for me.”

Feeling an itch for her own shop and clothing line, STSN photo

SEW NICE: Gemma Vigneaux of Cooper Commons started taking alternations in her home and now has her own store, where she makes gowns and alters clothes.

Vigneaux eventually left her job and last year began seeing clients in her home’s renovated garage. In October she moved the bustling operation to its current location. “I told my husband, I think I’m ready,” she recalls. “I knew this was just going to get bigger.”

And it has. Gemma’s Sewing & Alterations has been “bombarded” with wedding season work, and Vigneaux has taken on two employees and a trainee. Along with basic alterations, she creates original designs for bridesmaids, fl ower girls and mothers of the bride. “I have an elegant and sophisticated look,” Vigneaux says of her gowns, adding that, while clients often have an

idea of what they want, it’s her job to guide them toward what would look best on them.

“Many times my customers agree with me, and a few of them are already set in what they want, and whatever it is, I make it.”

Vigneaux credits her perfectionism and the shop’s friendly atmosphere for the referrals that keep her so busy, and though she loves her job and clients, she continues to reach for new goals. For one thing, she hopes to someday establish a Fashion Week in Chandler, where designers can display their work.

“It’s my dream,” she says. “Chandler is a beautiful city, and it has potential to grow in fashion. I think we could do it here.”

Gemma’s Sewing & Alterations is located at 1445 S. Arizona Ave., Suite 8, on the southeast corner of Arizona Avenue and the Santan Loop 202 Freeway near Sam’s Club. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 480-899-2736, email, or visit

K. M. Lang is a writer living in Sun Groves. To contact her, email


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Community a-kind and practical.

“With the state of the economy, people want to get more wear and versatility from their clothes, and I think it helps when a store already does that for them,” she says. “I focus on the quality of the items and brands that I buy for the store as opposed to just a name, and I think customers really appreciate that because I think that is what they focus on as well.”

Arens says Enclave sells “pretty much anything one would need to assemble a complete outfi t or closet,” including jeans, tops, shoes, jewelry, dress shirts and

T-shirts. The boutique also offers a variety of services including in-house alterations, birthday parties, private shopping and personal styling.

Enclave is located at 2625 W. Queen Creek Rd., Suite 5 in Chandler. For information, call 480-704-4753. The shop’s website,, is scheduled to be live by the end of the month.

Alison Stanton is a freelance writer who lives in the East Valley. She can be reached at

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