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Our Team.

Welcome to the Couture Pattern Museum, where passion fuels our creative team. Though small in size, we are mighty and efficient in our pursuit of excellence. Join us on this extraordinary journey as we honor the past, celebrate the present, and inspire the future.

Cara Austine, Founder & Executive Director

RJ Rademaker, Creative Operations Director, Key Advisor


Povilas ZaleskisDigital Fashion Designer & Creator, Clo3D Sponsor

Mystique Latese, Mentor & Key Advisor

Melissa Dagodag, Fashion Lawyer and Trademark/Copyright Attorney

Creative Visions Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) that supports creative activists using the arts and media to ignite social change. Assists with fundraising and grants as our California fiscal sponsor.

Fractured Atlas, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is our national fiscal sponsor and assists with international artist visas.


American Alliance of Museums, a prestigious network dedicated to championing museums and nurturing excellence across the museum field. 


Cara Austine

Founder & Executive Director

Cara Austine, the accomplished founder of the Couture Pattern Museum, brings a distinctive combination of expertise and passion to the fashion industry. With a solid background in Finance, Cara has dedicated herself to preserving the legacy of commercial haute couture and high fashion sewing patterns. Couture Pattern Museum showcases her exceptional talent and expertise in various couture techniques cultivated over 34 years. As the head seamstress, Cara not only crafts custom clothing for distinguished clients in Montecito, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles but also oversees the construction and revivals of dresses featured on our Atelier blog and our museum exhibitions.

Cara is fortunate to have a highly skilled mentor with a prestigious background. The mentor, who teaches at the renowned Institut Français de la Mode and is a graduate of the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, brings extensive expertise to their guidance. With a notable history as a "First Hand" at Christian Dior, working closely with the visionary designer John Galliano, the mentor's influence on Cara's development is extraordinary. Under their mentorship, Cara's potential to excel as an instructor and director at the Couture Pattern Museum is blossoming, setting the stage for a future where she can make meaningful contributions to others in the world of fashion education.

Motivated by an unwavering mission to protect and honor these invaluable artifacts of fashion history, Cara has painstakingly curated and amassed a comprehensive collection of haute couture sewing patterns over a span of more than two decades. Recognizing the unfortunate trend of patterns being discarded after a lifetime of cherished ownership, she was compelled to undertake a remarkable endeavor: the collection, digitization, and establishment of a museum that would preserve our shared heritage.

Outside of her pursuits within the museum, Cara finds enjoyment in various creative activities, including immersing herself in literary classics, intellectually engaging with individuals who defy convention, honing her culinary skills, and advocating against human trafficking and abuse. By shedding light on the grim realities of trafficking and exploitation, she strives to be a catalyst for change.


Through the visionary leadership of Cara Austine and her unwavering determination and commitment to excellence, the Couture Pattern Museum safeguards and celebrates the untold narratives of fashion and couture history. The museum aims to inspire and enlighten patrons of art and fashion. The Couture Pattern Museum, led by Cara Austine, invites you to join this extraordinary endeavor and contribute to the preservation of this invaluable legacy.

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RJ Rademaker

Creative Operations Director & Key Advisor

RJ Rademaker, an instrumental advisor and creative director at the Couture Pattern Museum, brings a wealth of experience and a lifelong dedication to the arts. With a background spanning finance, law, and non-profit work, RJ's multifaceted expertise contributes significantly to the museum's vision and success.​


Throughout his life, RJ has been deeply engaged in creative endeavors, notably as a songwriter and performer in various artistic disciplines. This extensive experience allows him to bring a unique perspective and artistic sensibility to his role at the museum.​ In addition to his creative pursuits, RJ has a strong foundation in finance and law, which lends valuable insights to the strategic and operational aspects of the Couture Pattern Museum.


Prior to his involvement with the museum, he served as the executive director of a national non-profit organization, where he honed his leadership skills and deepened his commitment to supporting worthy causes.​


Outside of his professional endeavors, RJ enjoys spending his spare time reading, and immersing himself in a lifelong study of many facets of the visual arts, with a concentration in painting and the graphic arts, with a detailed focus on and an extensive study of works on paper in various forms and media throughout art history.​


RJ Rademaker's diverse background, coupled with his passion for the arts and commitment to making a positive impact, make him an invaluable asset to the Couture Pattern Museum. His instrumental role as an advisor and creative director propels the museum's mission forward, ensuring the preservation and celebration of couture sewing patterns for generations to come.

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Povilas Zaleskis

Digital Fashion Designer & Creator, Clo3D Sponsor

Povilas Zaleskis is a Luxembourg-based Digital Fashion Designer, Creator, and Clo3D Sponsor at the Couture Pattern Museum. With a foundation in traditional bespoke tailoring, he excels in blending classic design with digital techniques, using Clo3D software to craft stunning digital renditions of couture.

Inspired by the revolutionary techniques of Madeleine Vionnet and driven by a profound respect for the meticulous detail characteristic of haute couture, Povilas's career took a transformative turn during the pandemic. This period of exploration and innovation led him to Clo3D, a tool that has become indispensable in the fashion industry for its ability to produce highly detailed and realistic garment designs without the physical constraints of traditional fabrication methods.

His digital reconstructions, particularly those from the James Galanos collection displayed during the 100th Birthday Tribute Exhibition for James Galanos in Santa Barbara, highlighted the complexity, beauty, and ingenuity of design processes, bridging historical fashion heritage with contemporary digital craftsmanship.


Beyond his design contributions, Povilas supports the museum's mission as a Clo3D sponsor, using his talent by assisting the Couture Pattern Museum to merge fashion's rich history with its digital future. Explore Povilas's innovative designs and historical digital projects at and on Instagram @biascutwoman.

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Mystique Latese

Mentor & Key Advisor

Mystique Latese, serving as a mentor and key advisor at the Couture Pattern Museum, brings an extensive repertoire of skills and experience, pivotal in driving the organization's growth, innovation, and diversity. With a proven track record in guiding startups to success, her visionary leadership is integral to pushing the museum's forward-thinking initiatives.


As the founder of WOC Owned, Mystique has manifested her profound commitment to inclusive entrepreneurship, creating a thriving platform dedicated to bolstering Black and Brown women entrepreneurs. Her tenure as a coveted event planner in Chicago has further polished her proficiency in project management, negotiation, and strategic planning, enhancing her contribution to the museum's endeavors.


Mystique's prowess extends to the digital sphere where her accomplishments include launching numerous online communities and digital apps, effectively bridging the gap between traditional and digital interfaces. Among these accomplishments is the successful introduction of highly rated online classes.


Additionally, Mystique is the driving force behind Mocha Lifestyle, a powerful initiative inspiring Women of Color to make a significant positive difference for future generations. The platform leverages digital storytelling to highlight the victories and challenges of Black and Brown women entrepreneurs, motivating others to follow their inspiring path.


Mystique Latese's in-depth insights, unwavering commitment, and hands-on approach have been pivotal in carving the Couture Pattern Museum's forward trajectory. Her continued alliance with our organization not only adds credibility but also instills a deep-rooted sense of purpose to our mission. This relationship bolsters our commitment to showcasing the complexity of historical couture patterns while fostering a diverse, inclusive community of learners and innovators.

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Melissa Dagodag

Fashion Lawyer and Trademark/Copyright Attorney Contracted Legal Counsel for Couture Pattern Museum

Melissa Dagadag is a distinguished fashion lawyer and seasoned attorney recognized for her expertise in trademark and copyright law. With a strong academic background, Melissa holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in English from Stanford University, as well as a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from UCLA School of Law. Her journey in the legal field began after experiencing the frustration of having her own design ideas stolen, inspiring her to protect the creative works of others.

With diverse professional experiences, Melissa's career has been shaped by her passion for the fashion and entertainment industries. She began her legal career at Manatt, Phelps, and Phillips, LLP, a top California law firm specializing in entertainment and music law. Melissa further enriched her expertise by serving as an in-house attorney handling contracts and business affairs at BCBG, a major fashion company, and Palan Music, an international music publishing company.

In 2006, driven by her desire to provide personalized attention and support to entrepreneurs and creative businesses, Melissa established her own law practice. Combining her business acumen gained from successfully running a design and manufacturing business for eight years with her legal knowledge, she offers tailored legal solutions that protect and strengthen the work of her clients. Melissa's dedication to her clients' success is evident in her ability to deliver preventative legal medicine and offer strategic guidance to avoid common pitfalls.


Melissa's expertise extends to various areas, including trademark law, business formation, business law, fashion law, music law, and entertainment law. As a member of the California State Bar Association, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, and various professional networks, she actively engages with the legal community and stays abreast of the latest industry developments.

As a contracted legal counsel for Couture Pattern Museum, Melissa Dagadag brings her comprehensive legal expertise and business experience to safeguard the museum's intellectual property and ensure legal compliance. Her practical legal know-how, effective communication skills, and approachable demeanor distinguish her as a trusted advisor.


Melissa provides various legal services, including trademark and copyright registration, contract drafting and negotiation, business formation, and general legal counsel. With Melissa Dagadag as part of the Couture Pattern Museum team, the organization benefits from her strategic guidance and commitment to supporting creative individuals and businesses. Her legal prowess, combined with her understanding of the real-world challenges start-ups face, allows her to offer valuable insights and solutions to protect and grow businesses in the ever-changing landscape of the fashion industry.

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Creative Visions Foundation

California Fiscal Sponsor, a non-profit 501(c)(3)

Couture Pattern Museum (CPM) is privileged to be a sponsored project of the Creative Visions Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) that supports creative activists, those that use the arts and media to ignite social change. As our local California fiscal sponsor, Creative Visions' mission aligns seamlessly with our own.


Our partnership with Creative Visions is built on shared values of creativity, inclusivity, and social change. Their support extends beyond fiscal sponsorship, offering critical fundraising and grant assistance. This enables CPM to expand its donor base and generate the necessary financial support for our preservation and educational initiatives. We are honored to be part of the Creative Visions family and look forward to continuing our joint endeavor to reshape the fashion and museum landscape.


Fractured Atlas

National Fiscal Sponsor, a non-profit 501(c)(3)

The Couture Pattern Museum is a nationally sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit 501(c)(3) arts service organization. Fractured Atlas is a reputable national non-profit arts service organization that provides support and resources to artists, cultural organizations, and creative projects. As a member of the team, Fractured Atlas brings its expertise and guidance in the areas of fiscal sponsorship, project management, international artist visas, and administrative support.

For verification purposes, we encourage you to visit their profile on Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator is an independent nonprofit organization that evaluates and rates charitable organizations based on their financial health, accountability, and transparency. They provide objective assessments and detailed information about various charities, helping donors make informed decisions about where to contribute their funds. By visiting their profile on Charity Navigator, you can gain a deeper understanding of the organization's performance and credibility.

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The Couture Pattern Museum (CPM) is proud to be a professional member of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), a prestigious organization dedicated to championing museums and nurturing excellence across the museum field. This membership signifies CPM's commitment to upholding the highest standards of professionalism and quality in the museum sector.

The mission of AAM aligns seamlessly with CPM's own objectives. AAM's dedication to fostering excellence and innovation in the museum field resonates with CPM's commitment to preserving and showcasing the art and history of commercial haute couture patterns. Both organizations believe in the power of museums to educate, inspire, and enrich lives.

As part of the AAM, CPM benefits from a wealth of resources, expertise, and networking opportunities. This relationship enables CPM to continually enhance its offerings, broaden its reach, and make a greater impact in the world of fashion and beyond.

In essence, AAM is an integral part of the CPM team, providing invaluable support and guidance as we work to fulfill our mission. We are honored to be part of the AAM community and look forward to continuing to contribute to the vibrant and diverse landscape of museums.

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