Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Claire Schaeffer - My Inspiration, My Friend

Claire Schaeffer models a 1960's Dior Pret-a-Porter jacket from my collection.

The internet is a wonderful thing. It has allowed me to make virtual connections with new friends all around the world. Yesterday, it allowed me to meet a woman who has been a source of inspiration to me for many years, Claire Schaeffer.

I first encountered Claire as a fashion design student. One of my instructors recommended Claire's Fabric Sewing Guide as a book that should be on the shelf of every serious sewer. As an experienced seamstress who was interested in learning more about couture and other fine sewing techniques, I soon added her Couture Sewing Techniques and High Fashion Sewing Secrets to my bookshelf, where they have been referred to many times over the years. Claire is a frequent contributor to Threads Magazine, and she has a line of patterns at Vogue. A few years ago, I was thrilled when Claire became a fellow member of the Vintage Fashion Guild, where we have enjoyed many online discussions about vintage clothing and couture techniques.

Claire has a fascination for haute couture. While she agrees that the final garment is important, it is the fine (and sometimes secret) sewing techniques that she strives to share with us. Over the years, she has visited museum archives and couture workrooms examining garments and interviewing designers, seamstresses and tailors. In so doing, she has become a modern expert on the "how to" of many haute couture techniques. She has also put together a collection of vintage couture garments that she uses for study and as examples for her books and classes.

Claire at her Palm Springs home with some of her collection of haute couture

This week, Claire had the opportunity to travel to Boston and yesterday, she spent time here with me in my office. We only had a couple of hours together, which was not nearly enough. I was left wanting so much more. I could listen to her stories and talk about vintage and couture with her for days and days without getting tired. She is a kindred spirit, one whom I never would have had the opportunity to meet without the internet. Come back soon, Claire!


Catwalk Creative said...

Wow! What an amazing lady. Such a pity you only had two hours together. A very interesting read and a great post!

fuzzylizzie said...

The very best thing about the internet is how it allows people of like minds and interests to make contact. It sounds like the two of you had a great visit!

casey said...

Ooh! How exciting! I have long been a fan of Claire's books and Threads articles; I think I have read and re-read Couture Sewing Techniques at least a dozen times (cover to cover!). She's definitely one of my sewing role models! :)

Sal said...

How wonderful!

Cindy said...

I was googling Claire Schaeffer and just stumbled on your delightful blog! I just began vintage sewing and adore the details in the garments which seemed to have been lost on most modern day patterns. I am so glad to discover your sites.

I just started a Chanel-inspired Jacket sew along blog,and wanted to get in contact with Claire to let her know.

The internet is a wonderful place to connect.

frazzledsugarplummum said...

I'm just reading these books at the moment. They are wonderful and have inspired me to improve my sewing skills.

Miss Naomi said...

Oh how wonderful Cindy! I too am completely obsessed with creating my own couture version of the Chanel jacket. Have you started your project?I would love to find out where to follow along. I'm nearly more interested in the process than the final product. Please let me know. Happy sewing!

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