Sassafras: Claire, when did you know you wanted to become a clothing designer?
Claire: I've always felt that I never made this decision, it's just who I am and what I do and there is no Plan B. I've sewn clothes for my dolls and myself since I was very young and just continued to develop that. I do remember strongly disliking my parents' insistence that I go to college until I found out that fashion design was a legitimate degree with career options. There was no stopping me after that. Initially as a big dreamer I decided to get a cosmetology license, a bachelor's in fashion design and a master's in fashion photography so that I could design the clothing, style the hair, and do killer photoshoots to be featured in Vogue and W magazines. Since then, I've pared it down to having my own clothing line with an emphasis on being able to craft and stitch everything myself and have unlimited creative license. The craftsmanship is what I really love and value being able to do. I know that growing my company and having my garments manufactured is more financially viable, but this is what makes me fulfilled and that's better to me than getting a big paycheck.
For the record, I did get the cosmetology license before the bachelor's in design, so I do a lot of living room haircuts!
Sassafras: Who are some of the people who helped you along your path to creating your line Postscript?
Claire: My family has always been immensely supportive; my dad and older sister have especially gone out of their way to help me along and encourage me. I'm really blessed to live in a strong neighborhood community where many friends and literally dozens of people have stepped up to support me along the way. And I couldn't be where I am today without my business/life coach and friend Jenny MacLeod working through every step of it with me. It really takes a lot for an artist to pursue their work and also figure out how to make a viable living off of it, or run a business, and Jenny made all of that easy for me and walked me through it so I don't feel like I'm drowning in the details.
Sassafras: What's your background? Where are you from and where did you study?
Claire: I grew up here in Northgate and studied in Tukwila at the International Academy of Design and Technology (which is now called Sanford-Brown). I was able to finish up my degree in London and do my internship there, which was a hugely formative experience in my approach to life, creativity, craft, and the way I work. One course that I took focused on gathering and developing inspiration, which very much influenced my design and exploration process; and my internship with couturier Ulrich Engler taught me so much about the intricacies of handwork and valuing what is at your fingertips.
Sassafras: Can you describe your target market--how old is she? what's she doing? what's her attitude?
Claire: I hear a lot of women in their fifties or sixties saying, "That's really beautiful! If I was younger..." and I really want to iterate that age in no way negates beauty. Not all of my pieces are for everyone, but in general I aim to design rather timeless work that looks as elegant on a 25-year-old as a 65-year-old. I design for a woman who understands that she graces the world with her beauty and is confident in that, and even more, I hope to convince women of that who don't already feel that way. It's not about selling more of my work, but about encouraging every woman that she deserves to look and feel beautiful. And I design for the woman who cherishes things.
Sassafras: Your current collection is very fluid and light. Do you expect this to continue in your future collections?
Claire: I'm sure that I'll continue to design that way a lot, but not with everything. I wanted this collection to be what you would like to be wearing on a perfect summer day. For my winter collection, you'll see something different. It's very important to me to always be exploring and learning, so you can expect some variety in the future.
Sassafras: You mentioned to me once that designs come to you in your sleep. Where do you go for motivation and inspiration?
Claire: Oh man, that was one piece! I don't know how it happened, but I designed all of the mechanics of my Limitless Toss from this collection in a dream. I've actually wanted to make something like that for a couple of years and have been collecting all of the requirements for it. Then in my sleep the whole thing came together right down to the button placement and the different ways you can wrap it around and wear it. I jumped out of bed, ran to the store for fabric, and made a prototype immediately, and had to pat myself on the back when it actually worked out!
But, not, I wouldn't say "sometimes." Perhaps I'll practice some lucid dreaming and because "Seattle's Dream Designer." But I wouldn't count on it.
As for motivation and inspiration, I learned in that course in London to look for it everywhere in everything. I don't often turn to clothing for inspiration, but rather things like songs, buildings, water, plants and literature. Often I'll have a muse and design what I think they should be wearing, like Bjork, Amelie, or the Black Market Baby that Tom Waits sings of. A valuable thing that I've learned is to take some time to gather all of the beautiful things that capture my heart, find connections between them and the ones that are most important to me and cut out the rest, design clothing that best interprets that, pair down again, and end up with something concise and rich. That's my goal anyway.
My current collection was inspired by the contrast of architecture and water, structure and flow. The Beatles' Across the Universe was a big part of the inspiration with all this beautiful imagery of "thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box" and such. I named each of the pieces in this collection with a word or phrase from the song.
Sassafras: You're using very soft, rich fabrics in your designs, like silk and felt. What are your favorite materials and why?
Claire: Silk, silk, silk. There are so many types of fabric made out of silk and nothing compares to its lustre, drape, and ability to sculpt. It just feels so luxurious to know that you're wearing silk -- something about it makes you really treasure that garment and feel special in it. Every woman deserves to have at least one silk piece that makes her feel so lovely. I also love working with wool, cotton, and rayon. I primarily stick to woven materials because it involves more tailoring and complex patterning and shows off that contrast of structure and flow.
Sassafras: What can we anticipate for the future of Postscript?
Claire: I'm focusing right now on developing my design ability in more creative patterning and shapes, and delving deeper in to the initial inspiration-to-design process. I want my work to not scream for attention, but when you see it you like it and the longer you look at it the more you love it. Also I'm soon going to start incorporating a few pieces that are much more creative and intricate, like wearable art. I call these my "Intrigue" pieces. Down the road, I'd like to move into some bridal and more extravagant, formal dresses, but for the time being I'm really enjoying daywear and will be doing this for at least the next few years.
Sassafras: We're excited to have your new line in the shop and we're looking forward to what comes next. Thanks, Claire!