California Arabian Costumes is well known as one of the oldest and most established Native Costume designers in the Arabian horse world. Owned by Lynne Chevallier, the company has been designing and bringing to life Nationally winning costumes since 1974. With so many tiny individual elements and so much meticulous work put into each, creating these show stopping masterpieces is undoubtedly an art form.
We caught up with owner Lynne, to learn more about the art of creating Native Costumes.
(Emma) Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
(Lynne) My love for the Arabian horse started many years go with the purchase of a Half-Arabian. With the help of friends I was introduced to the horse show world. From then on I became hooked on Arabians and horse shows! I tried my hand showing in all classes but the Native Costume class was the most fun.
(Emma) Talk to us about your creative and actual process?
(Lynne) Two years later I made my first native costume. As with anything, that “first” costume was NOT a sight to behold! Neither was the second one for that matter! But, by the third one, things where improving! With each new year, I would come up with new ideas, a new design and I would make myself a new costume. God bless my horses from those early years that would allow me to scotch tape paper to them so that I might create my patterns! And so began my career in making Native Costumes.
Now tell me, what lady doesn’t like shopping? It’s all about the thrill of the hunt! Fabric shopping is fun, like an overgrown kid in a candy store. There are hundreds of fabrics and trims to choose from, not all suitable for an Arabian costume though. Yet once a fabric catches my eye, then the wheels start turning in my head as I imagine how it might become a Native Costume in the future. Often times I will buy a fabric because it looks intriguing and has an interesting pattern or color. I will bring it home and put the fabric away until the right velvet, the right trim and the right time comes along. It may be a year or two before they become a horse show costume.
Once the time comes to start a costume, it may take between four to six weeks to make it. Why so long? It’s all about the details! Triple tassels, for example, are all handmade, and usually done after my work day is through. Evening homework! The rhinestone work we see in today’s Native costume classes takes days to complete and a boat load of patience. Once again, it is the detail work in the smallest places that gives each costume ‘that perfect look!’
(Emma) How important is costume to the class?
(Lynne) Half the fun of showing costume is getting dressed! The other half of showing is going into the show ring knowing you look your best! The class specs say 25% is awarded to your costume. Our goal is to have each show rider earn those points. The rest of the class is judged on performance. I feel it takes three things to win a National championship, a good horse, and good rider, and a good costume!
Our costumes have been worn by many National Champions. Whether our riders prefer a costume that is
simple yet elegant, or lavish and more colorful, we can accommodate their needs. Either style of costume can win a class or National championship. Being designed with careful thought and tastefully done is the key to success.
Lynne and California Arabian Costumes have created customers that have adorned many Regional and National winners. Her passion for her work, and her dedication to creating beautiful and unique pieces, shines through in every costume.