Women Worldwide: Claire Fleury on her ‘Kaleidoscopic’ fashion career

“Balancing between being an artist and being a businesswoman, I would say I am more of the first,” says Claire Feury who talks us through the early days [...]

“Balancing between being an artist and being a businesswoman, I would say I am more of the first,” says Claire Fleury who talks us through the early days of her career and dishes out the details of her latest sustainable and genre-bending collection, ‘Kaleidoscope.’

Claire started out in theatre before getting involved with the New York fashion scene in the 1980s. What started as designing small collections here and there, soon gave way to a stellar career in the fashion industry. One look at any of Claire’s pieces and you’ll instantly see her own personality reflected back at you. Bold, colourful, subversive and always, always avant-garde.

In this interview, we sit down with Claire and talk about her inspirations, the state of the fashion world through her eyes and the hodgepodge of projects she has upcoming. And if there was one thing that we came away with, it’s that Claire is on top of her creative game and we can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background, what inspired you to start your eponymous fashion line? 

I’ve always been inspired by fashion, mostly the avant-garde kind, but I never thought to start designing clothes myself. I come from the European theatre scene, and when I moved to NYC almost ten years ago, I transformed my performing arts career into making costumes and outfits for nightlife performers and dance companies in New York. From there I started making small collections, selling at Patricia Field — who was most known for styling Sex & The City, but has some designer fashion stores in NYC since the 80s — and later at groovy pop-up shops all over NYC. My designs were also available in SoHo retail stores, art galleries, nightclubs and even the Brooklyn museum.

Tell us about your ‘Kaleidoscope’ collection. What’s the story behind it? 

The collection is based on the specific cuts of motocross gear and is entirely made of surplus fabrics. These fabrics are left over from my own studio’s earlier collections, as well as small pieces of fabric donated by designers leaving town due to COVID-19.

I called it Kaleidoscope, as a reflection of how scattered our lives are right now, and how we might need to protect ourselves with armour. However, the ‘soft armour play suits’ as I call them, are made from lace and mesh and faux fur and sequins…. So, they are another kind of armour altogether. One to have some fun with!

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a businesswomen so far? 

Balancing between being an artist and being a businesswoman, I would say I am more of the first.

What are your thoughts on virtual fashion shows, and do you believe the fashion world will go back to a physical runway format soon? 

I think a virtual show is better than no show! It is obviously a different format but if you treat it as such, it can be its own medium. I believe we do love live performances and will get back to that as soon as it is safe to do so. 

What’s next for you? Any new exciting projects in the pipeline?

Always! I’m working on a few things simultaneously (also always). The first is a new collection which is called After Party. These are pieces that we would want to wear after the pandemic is over 

Second, I’m designing a small line of garments with a fabric print I am obsessively drawing right now. 

It is a modern take on a traditional French ‘toile’ and is based on a photoshoot that my partner/photographer Cash Levi Exum and I did in the park with some of our favourite models….

Finally, I am also thinking of designing a collection based on 1970’s women in rock, there’s just not enough time in a day!

What advice do you have for women who would like to become GirlBosses like yourselves?

Hmm. Listen to and trust your own voice, but also learn from the people you admire. Oh, and take your best friends advice: they know you best! 

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Hannah Lynn Tan
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