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Fashioning coats for senior show

By: Ilaf Esuf, Special to The Placer Herald
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Leonora Christman, a designer and resident of the Casa de Santa Fe senior home, proves that age is never a factor when carrying out aspirations. Discovering her desire to pursue a career in fashion at the age of 14, Christman was able to earn some money by managing three fabric stores, doing alterations, designing pants patterns and teaching others how to sew. This was just the beginning of what would soon become a lifelong hobby and career for Christman. The idea of a fashion show at Casa de Santa Fe, instigated by close friend Ethel Sassenrath, was a great hit — an event that attracted 60 guests on June 9. Her third fashion show, complete with champagne, chocolates and models, which were fellow workers at Casa de Santa Fe, allowed Christman to showcase her coats. “The whole heart of the thing was Leonora because everybody loves her so much and she is such a great person. It was a huge success and she is still sewing orders that she took that night,” Sassenrath said. Christman’s line of coats started out with an old sewing machine that fell on her arm. In extreme discomfort, she needed clothing, which she could easily slip her arm in and out of, leading to the creation of her simple and fun coats. The length of time to make a coat “depends on the coat. (On average, it takes) a day and a half,” Christman said. She said she enjoys “being able to create something. (She loves) everything about fashion, the changes, and that women love clothes.” When making coats, Christman tries “to pick something that’s colorful, light to medium weight, and (thinks) of the person (she is) making it for,” she said. Her distaste of structure led to her prominence and has allowed her to grow as a fashion designer. Being a part of two national fashion groups, the Red Hats — who shared the budget for the fashion show — and the Auburn Sewing Guild, Christman continues making clothes and sharing them with her friends.