High Street Hero: Cath Kidston’s Design Director, Christine Hafsten

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  • Get to know the Scandinavian designer and print fanatic who’s the new creative driving force behind Cath Kidston

    You’d be forgiven for thinking that Cath Kidston’s designs were all by its eponymous founder.
    Up until recent times that was the case, but, after 20 years of growing the brand from one small shop in London’s Holland Park to a nationwide chain of 120 stores, Cath has taken a back seat. Enter Christine Hafsten, the design director tasked with safeguarding those trademark florals and adding new ones into the mix.

    Christine Hafsten, design director at Cath Kidston

    Christine joined Cath Kidston in 2013 and spent a year working closely with Cath herself. ‘If you are as passionate about print and colour as I am, then this is an incredible place to work,’ says Christine. ‘I’m very lucky. We have a brand book, which is our bible, with really clear guidelines about what is on-brand and what our design ethos is. I think my experience of working with Cath, having these guidelines and my own views all work together to create the ideal platform to grow the brand.’

    Colourful crockery

    Iconic Cath kidston rose prints have been recoloured in subtle modern shades

    Highgate Rose Blue and Highgate Ditsy White crockery, from £5 for a side plate, all Cath Kidston

    Scandinavian by birth, Christine grew up in a small village in Norway. ‘I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who was a seamstress and fine-art painter,’ she says. ‘She made a really big impression on me. I was very drawn to painting and sewing, and made my own clothes. I realised I enjoyed doing creative things more than anything else.’

    Bags of choice

    Practical and beautiful

    Embossed bowler bags, from £35 each, Cath Kidston

    Growing up in a traditional rural community, Christine never imagined she could become a designer, until a eureka moment at the dentist. ‘I was in the waiting room reading a fashion magazine and there was an article on Karl Lagerfeld,’ she explains. ‘I suddenly realised he had a career doing what

    I loved doing as a hobby, and the revelation changed my life. Luckily, I had time to learn the skills I needed, so I enrolled in vocational school and got my tailoring certificate.’

    Home comfort

    Creating a feel-good, cosy mood is part of Catherine’s design ethos antique

    Rose Bouquet bed linen, from £14 for a pillowcase, Cath Kidston range, John lewis

    From there, Christine moved to San Francisco to study for a bachelor’s degree in fashion design. This was followed by a master’s at Central St Martin’s in London, during which time she was selected for an internship at Alexander McQueen. ‘It was an amazing experience and I was very lucky, but I also worked hard so that I could impress my teachers and make the most of the opportunities,’ says Christine.

    Sweet scent

    A beautiful way to fragrance your home

    Blossom Bird scented candle,
    £25, Cath Kidston

    A career with Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton beckoned.
    ‘Working in high-end fashion was a dream come true,’ says Christine. ‘Deciding on how you can make something special with quality fabric and design details gave me a great grounding. Now, I can take that knowledge and experience and apply it at Cath Kidston, so I can make sure our pieces are extra special but affordable.’

    Creating beautiful, practical, quality products is very important to Christine.
    ‘I was very keen to work for a business that has strong brand values,’ she says.
    ‘Cath Kidston has such a unique look and a wonderful heritage. There aren’t many businesses that are based on tasteful, beautiful products that are really good quality at a price most people can afford. I’m very proud when I see someone with one of the bags I’ve worked on. It’s very satisfying.’

    Teatime treat

    A mix of prints gives this cake stand eclectic appeal

    Highgate Rose cake stand,
    £36, Cath Kidston

    Home for Christine is a mansion flat in west London that she shares with her husband and four-year-old son.
    ‘I like to think I have a calm and practical home,’ says Christine. ‘My aesthetic is based on mixing classic pieces with personal items. I think a home should have personality, so I like to display things we’ve picked up on our travels, family heirlooms and favourite pieces of art. Items should tell a story and remind you of special moments, and I think that’s what Cath Kidston likes to do as a brand:
    to help trigger a memory or a feeling.
    It’s about nostalgia and I really like to have that in my home, too.’

    Cheery cuppa

    Bring a little fun to your breakfast brew

    Garden Gnomes Stanley mug, £6.50, Cath Kidston

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