Meet Katie Kortman: Empress of Colour and Queen of Fabric Chat

Meet Katie Kortman: Empress of Colour and Queen of Fabric Chat
Jacqui Taylor

This is what happens when the empress of colour and queen of fabric join forces. It is a colour explosion and it is SENSATIONAL!!

Nerida herself and one of our full-of-fun designers, Katie Kortman chat about her 'Party' collection, as well as life before and after Project Runway. It packs a punch!

N: I’ll never forget the day when I contacted you and asked your husband if you could have a look at the strike offs and he said you could not talk to anyone for 30 days. I was like, what are you talking about? He said, she is on a special assignment. We started talking about it in the office and I thought I bet she’s on a reality TV show and we were trying to guess which one. There were many funny ones flying around, but I said it has to be Project Runway. Now you’ve done it, what’s life like now? What is the difference between Katie before and Katie after?

K: (laughs) Ten thousand times more stressful, but also great. It’s funny, I look back to life in 2021 and I thought I remember what life was like you know a few years ago when all I was doing was just sewing for myself. Now I’ve got a lot more going on. I’m a little more busy, and I’m not the first child born type of person. I love stress and hate stress, but I stress myself out all the time as I love to be busy.

I thought 2021 was busy and then I got back from Project Runway and decided to launch my own clothing line. It is a dream come true! Man, 2021 was a breeze in comparison.

N: Tell me about this garment you are wearing.

K: I made this first (Katie holds up a purple garment with big shoulders). I’ve made it out of this print (Primary Colour Party to the Max). I made a shirt and it has a quilted skirt as well. When Project Runway approached me, they found me on Instagram in 2020 and asked me to audition. I thought it was a joke! I was wondering how did they find me, don’t they know I’m not a real fashion designer and that I only sew for myself. But I could not miss the opportunity, instead of saying I don’t actually know how to design a pattern I only know how to sew a pattern. I said OK, I auditioned and I bought a dress from the bible of pattern making. I bought all of the tools and I just taught myself. I had to make a collection for the audition.

N: It has actually fast-tracked your fashion label. Surely, now with all that knowledge and experience that was forced upon you, you must be relishing in the knowledge that you now have.

K: I talked to my husband, because I did invest a good chunk of money into launching my fashion line. It needed to get done and ready by the time the show aired. I had a really tight timeline, therefore I did it in the more kind of fast and expensive way. Now, I've learnt a whole lot. I've learnt a lot from the show.

N: Did you draw much from the other contestants such as the interactions and their ideas?

K: It was amazing because I did not go to fashion school and I’ve been sewing and designing only in my own space with nobody around other than the Instagram world. I was able to ask them so many questions and they all do something different. They all have a different approach to being a fashion designer and I had to ask what do they do, how do they do it and ask them for resources. I still can, we are still friends. We became very close with each other. I got an education to prepare for the show, I got an education on the show and then an education on the manufacturing and money side after the show.

N: I’m so thrilled to have this relationship with you. You would see it too, I know you’re commenting and looking and appreciating it everyday what people create and how others interpret your designs. You’re at the top of the mountain right now, Katie. Thinking about everything that’s produced whether it’s been dog collars or dresses. It is beautiful to watch and how broad your appeal is.

K: I often think I should have been from Australia. The brands that are using my designs. It is so fun to see people are using it for furniture, clothing, children's wear and like you said dog collars. It is very cool to see!

N: Not only have we launched your new designs, but it's also alongside new substrates. We’ve launched the most incredible voile, which is a beautiful lightweight and organic cotton. I’ve had this shirt made out of the voile, it’s well under the gsm and it’s not see-through. It’s one of the best shirts I’ve ever put on my body. We are still experiencing a lot of hot weather here in Australia. We are going to see this on the beach as sarongs. How are you at tying a sarong?

K: I don't know how to tie a sarong.

N: Actually, I am going to announce it now on social media, does anyone want to win three metres of organic cotton voile in a Katie Kortman design. Show us how you would use one piece of fabric! We'll share the tag soon.

K: I have friends who have said to me that they want a big piece of my fabric and they would wear it like a sarong at the beach. I am like I do not even know how to tie one of those.

N: Katie, what is happening next?

K: I've got Wear Happy Colour happening in March. I do like to do all of the challenges and there are prizes to organise. I better get moving with that. I am going to try and launch some new styles with my fashion line. I've got custom dresses. My problem is I have so many ideas. I need a replica of myself to get everything done.

N: Don't ask me. I've got ADHD and I just keep adding to me list of things to do. It is exciting to see the energy that you bring to this energy. It would be a privilege to do another collection with you, as soon as you have time.

K: It is on my lists of things to do. When did I design this collection, I think it was 2020, but it took so long to produce due the pandemic.

N: Thank you so much, Katie. It has been lovely to chat with you.

Katie's Party collection is available at and join her with her Wear Happy Colour (#wearhappycolour) challenge via @katiekortmanart.

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