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Q & A with Catherine Bouquet, an 8-time BraZaar bra ensemble maker

Q: When was the first year you participated?

2014 at The Casa Marina Resort

Q: Did you know what the event was all about in terms of what it was specifically supporting?

My husband Jim and I purchased tickets to Brazaar at the Marriott Hotel & Resort (now Margaritaville Hotel). After reading about the event in the local Paradise, I researched Womenkind’s purpose and mission and wanted to help in some way. I subsequently decided to create a costume and my imagination just flowed.

Q: What are some of the designs you’ve made?

I have created eight designs. A few of my show stoppers were Little Miss Cupcake, Pistol Packing Patty, Full House and Pare Fore.

Q: How did you get your ideas?

Little Miss Cupcake inspired from a Katy Perry’s video. Pistol Packing Patty was named after my over the top adventurous little sister. Full House, modeled by Danilea Baswell, along with Pare Fore, modeled by Jenn Stefanacci, were created for last year’s Fantasy Fest theme, The Games People Play. I had a blast walking through Key West Dollar Store in the kiddie toy isle for ideas.

Q: What did it take to make them? Any funny creation stories?

I taped into my unlimited imagination. After reviewing the current year Fantasy Fest theme and weekly themed parties, I strolled through local stores such as Bealls, Home Depot, Dollar Store, Fair Villa, Ben Franklin (so miss that place) and website Pinterest. My first step was choosing that special bra. I did not have a mannequin so off to the Home Depot. I purchased a large plastic flower pot with a 38 inch circumference and strapped bra around it. Decorating the straps required pre-stretching and pinning to the work surface. A model head form was used to build the head piece.

Each evening when my husband Jim arrived home from working at Key West City Hall, his first sight to behold, front and center on the kitchen table a bedazzled bra in various stages of completion! He quickly learned NOT to turn on the ceiling fan, resulting in hot pink boa feathers and rhinestones in his cocktail!

Q: How did you decide to start making “ensembles” to go with the bra?

I observed models just wearing decorated bras. I wanted to bring this event up to a new level, and, in doing so, hopefully raise more money for Womankind. Ensemble additions included an elaborately decorated tutu, headpiece, fishnet gloves and props.

Q: What was the best part of being part of this special fundraiser?

Realizing that through my creations I can provide funds for Womenkind to assist local women, men and teens to receive quality health care by compassionate and devoted staff.

Q: Any advice for first-time participating artists?

Let your imagination flow. Use E6000 adhesive. Put forth that WOW factor. Bring a smile to people’s faces. Give back to you community.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about yourself, how long you’ve been in the Keys, what you do/love to do here?

My husband Jim and I purchased our canal front home on Big Pine Key eight years ago, moving from Maine, bringing my passion for stained glass and design. I was fortunate to have discovered that my church, St. Peters Catholic Church on Big Pine Key, had a stained glass studio. I ultimately became involved in teaching the art of stained glass until the studio was destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Our life focus is visiting with our 3 grandchildren, 2 sons and daughter in laws.

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