Saskatchewan·Profile

'It's very bold': 11-year-old designer launches 1st collection at Sask. Fashion Week

Raina Haus, 11, launches first, full collection at Saskatchewan Fashion Week.

Raina Haus debuts set of hot pink gowns for first runway show, wins Emerging Designer award

Raina Haus poses in one of her designs on the Saskatchewan Fashion Week red carpet in 2016. (Submitted to CBC/Laila Haus)

Raina Haus is living her high fashion dreams.

The 11 year old is already an experienced seamstress. She is launching her first full collection — a set of shiny, hot pink gowns with punches of black — at Saskatchewan Fashion Week.

"It's very bold," said Raina. "It has some cool angles and shapes. You wouldn't normally wear this to, like, school or something. This is very formal and dressy and high fashion."

A sketch by Raina of the dress she created for Saskatchewan Fashion Week 2016. (Submitted to CBC/Laila Haus)

The pre-teen's eye for style, coupled with her skill, has taken her to the next level of Saskatchewan's fashion scene.

Until now, she had only designed her own looks for the red carpet. This year, she has an entire fleet of gowns to worry about.

Raina Haus smiles as she works at her kitchen table on the morning of Saskatchewan Fashion Week 2018's first show where her first, full collection debuted. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

"I will look at something someone is wearing and I'll just think about it in my head, how I could tweak it up ... put my own spin on it," said Raina of her designs' inspiration.

I feel like Cinderella ... because I am just, like, an ordinary person and then I get to go and do this.- Raina   Haus

She debuted her Raina K collection Thursday night at the first evening show of the week. Raina K is the designer name she chose when she was seven or eight. Now that she is 11, she feels Raina Haus is a more appropriate moniker for future work.

Raina Haus poses in her creation for Saskatchewan Fashion Week 2017. (Submitted to CBC/Laila Haus)

Final touches

Thursday morning, with her debut just hours away, Raina's family's home on Regina's south end had been transformed into a studio. Raina was perched at a sewing machine on the kitchen table, busily completing finishing touches.

A pile of fashion sketches sat near a pink bouquet on the coffee table. Garment bags peppered the room with slivers of pink slipping out of their edges.​

"I've been obsessed with pink for a really, really long time," said Raina. "It's still my favourite colour, it's always been my favourite colour. And, I feel like black just goes really well with pink."

Laila and Raina Haus. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

Raina's mother Laila Haus said she knew her daughter had a passion for clothing and creating from the start.

"She, from a very young age, started drawing clothes and would draw dresses and the bow that goes with the dress and accessories," said Laila. "She's sort of always thought about it that way."

Raina, then 8, works on her dress for SFW 2015. (Submitted to CBC/Laila Haus)

Raina began sewing with Celeste Pinder at Sister CeeCee's Sewing School when she was six or seven, after bugging her mom to enrol her.

At age eight she received an invitation to Saskatchewan Fashion Week 2015. Naturally, the budding designer decided this would be a good time to put her newfound sewing skills to use. She created a special dress for herself to wear.

Raina Haus poses with 'Mr. Fabulous' aka Ryan Massel at Saskatchewan Fashion Week 2015. In this photo, eight-year-old Haus is wearing the dress she created for the event. (Submitted to CBC/Laila Haus)

A proud tweet from Laila to the event's host, fashion blogger Mr. Fabulous, turned heads. 

Raina was invited on stage to show off her work. It was during this introduction that she caught the eye of renowned local designer Dean Renwick.

A seamless transition

Raina Haus and Sask. designer Dean Renwick pose after meeting at SFW 2015. She would go on to intern with Renwick. (Submitted to CBC/Laila Haus)

Renwick offered Raina an internship. She said she was able to learn things she had wondered about for years.

"I remember when I was little, I would always be like, 'How do you do that? I want to do that!' " Raina said.

Raina Haus on her first day of her internship with Dean Renwick in 2015. (Submitted to CBC/Laila Haus)

Raina took the job seriously, showing up to study and sew at Renwick's downtown studio several times a week for the summer.

Raina Haus poses outside of Renwick's downtown Regina studio in a coat she created on her internship. (Submitted to CBC/Laila Haus)

She tried new things and mastered new skills, like cutting and sewing straight.

Raina Haus, Dean Renwick and some friends pose in Raina's designs at Renwick's studio. (Submitted to CBC/Laila Haus)

Fashion week has become an annual event for the young designer.

She was asked to present a collection at this year's show in late 2017. She says she has been working on the six-piece collection since January.

Raina Haus often designs clothes for her friends (pictured here in this school fashion show, in Haus originals). However, her 2018 collection marks the first work the 11-year-old has created for adult women. (Submitted to CBC/Laila Haus)

"It's really amazing how I was just, like, making my own dress and it was no big deal, and now I am here," said Raina. "I feel like Cinderella ... because I am just an ordinary person and then I get to go and do this and be on stage and it's really amazing."

A stylish future

When Raina thinks about her future, she sees a stylish world filled with opportunities

"I want to go to fashion school and become a fashion designer," she said. "I want to go to New York, or Paris, or Milan or L.A."

For now, Raina will continue to build on her years of experience, while balancing school and life as a kid.

Haus has big dreams. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

Her mother said Raina has been working very hard to get ready for the big show.

"I am very, like, pinch me,"  said Laila. "Sometimes I feel like this really isn't happening."

First runway show a win

Dean Renwick and Raina Haus pose together following Raina's first SFW show. The 11-year-old won the Emerging Design award which comes with a three-week paid internship with Renwick. (Laila Haus/Submitted to CBC)

Raina will soon resume her work with Dean Renwick.

"For me to see her show last night, two years later, I was blown away," said Renwick Friday. "She has come a long, long way and it is amazing. And now she can get her ideas and concepts across with no problem at all."

Raina's show was a success. To top it off, she won the 2018 Saskatchewan Fashion Week Emerging Designer award. The prize is another internship with Renwick — but this time it is paid.

Renwick says Raina reminds him of successful designers he has mentored in the past, noting her drive and passion for design are exceptional and something they share.

The Regina designer said he also started sewing as a child.

"Most kids her age want to go out and play," he said. "For her, this is play. And, it's the same for me. This was always my play time."

About the Author

Madeline Kotzer

@MadelineKotzer

Madeline Kotzer is an award-winning Saskatchewan journalist and Social Media News Editor/Presenter for CBC Saskatchewan and CBC Saskatoon.