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Designer Spotlights

Interview with Claire Pettibone

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We sat down with designer Claire Pettibone at her Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay trunk show last week to talk about everything from her recent Spring 2016 collection (and black wedding dresses!) to designing Nikki Reed’s wedding gown!

WedLuxe: Hi Claire! Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with us!

Claire Pettibone: It’s my pleasure! I’m very happy to be here.

WL: We wanted to talk to you about your latest collection, Spring 2016. We loved the black dresses so much. It’s very exciting to see black, as brides are starting to choose black now but there doesn’t seem to be many options for them.

CP: In my Still Life collection from a few years ago, there was a dress called “Raven” that had black tulle and floral embroidery on it and that dress has done really well. Sometimes I create a gown just for the runway, or to speak to the theme of a collection. “Raven” was one of those dresses where I felt like it really epitomized the whole inspiration of the Still Life collection. I like that my brides “get me,” the success of that dress made me not afraid to do more black in this collection.

WL: What was the inspiration behind this latest collection? 

CP: The most recent collection was for my Romantique division, which is more moderately priced as opposed to the couture collection. Romantique has a relaxed, bohemian vibe and I thought it would be fun to create an Old West theme. I thought about using hats and cowboy boots, but I didn’t want to do brown leather. I felt that the black leather would give it a bit more sophistication and a bit more of an edge. I wanted to keep it really clean, so it’s all ivory with touches of black. It was really fun.

WL: We just wrapped out Summer/Fall 2015 issue, and in doing our trend round-ups it was so interesting that nothing from your collection was similar to what you were seeing from anyone else – it was so singular!

CP: I always try to be different! I really try to just keep to my own vision and so far it has served me well. 

WL: Clearly! Who would you say is the bride who is a part of your vision? Who is the Claire Pettibone girl?

CP: There is no “one type”, there are so many kinds of women! I think they have the common theme that they want something that is unique and individual and that speaks to their own sense of style. They definitely tend to be more fashion-forward and confident, they don’t want a cookie cutter traditional dress. They want something that expresses their style and they range across the board in ages, styles, and vibes for their wedding. It keeps it exciting, working with many different kinds of brides.

WL: Now tell us, how did the castle where you work in LA come about? [Ed note: You can see more photos of Claire’s beautiful castle here]

CP: The building is a historic landmark and I have always loved it. As far as I’ve known, it’s always been occupied. One day my husband and I were driving to lunch and I saw a little For Lease sign out front and I yelled out, “Stop the car! We have to call right now!” So we did, literally, and the next day we were in touring it. I feel like it was meant to be. It’s such an amazing building and we put a lot of work into restoring it back to the castle that it should be, creating that fairytale world. I always think of my dresses as telling a story, and I feel like the weddings tell stories, so the castle is a culmination of all of that. It’s a beautiful setting and we’re so lucky to work there.

WL: We saw that you designed Nikki Reed’s dress! It was so beautiful. Have you been getting a lot of requests for similar gowns? 

CP: Yes! I have always been known for my backs and that actually had a complete lack of a back. Sleeves are something I’ve been doing for quite a few seasons now as well, I absolutely love a lace sleeve. I customized that gown for her, she definitely wanted a sleeve and an illusion front. I felt the gown really suited her and her personality and the feeling that she wanted for the wedding.

WL: Is this trunk show at Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay just one of many for you?

CP: As a company, we do trunk shows every weekend but I personally only hand pick a few that I go to. As you know, I have a daughter and a full time job, but I like to make my way out there.

Thank you so much to Claire for taking the time out of your busy schedule in Toronto to meet with us and to Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay for organizing such a wonderful trunk show. You can see our top picks from Claire Pettibone’s Spring 2016 Romantique collection, inspired by “Old West” below.

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