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!