Interview with Claire Drennan-Jarvis
Owner and Designer at Claire Drennan Knitwear
P.C. Charlie Ewing
On a cold afternoon in late December Claire and I took a few minutes over coffee at Agora to visit about what drives her fashion and designs as one of Houston’s designers.
Charlie: Claire, what led you from an admirer of fashion to a designer?
Claire: When I lived in Chile during my 20’s, I couldn’t find the clothes that I wanted but I could find amazing fabrics and yarns. I worked with local artisans to make my own dream wardrobe, piece by piece, with hand-made sweaters and tailored dresses. I asked as many questions as possible and slowly started to learn how to sew and knit.
Charlie: What is your major inspiration for your designs?
Claire: I usually start with a feeling and with colors that inspire that feeling.
Charlie: Why knitwear instead of cut-and-sew?
Claire: Knit has this… intrinsic whimsy. It is easy to wear and comfortable, as well as better for the environment. In cut-and-sew about 20% of the total fabric is tossed. My work is focused on whimsy and sustainability, I am a Fiber artist.
Charlie: Why cotton knitwear instead of wool or other blends?
Claire: Houston is too hot for wool, I wanted something that transcends seasonal wear and can be worn year around. I focus on a recycled cotton for the environmental friendliness of it, using cotton that was remnant from clothing production, never worn.
Charlie: Who is your favorite designer?
Claire: Katie Jones, an English knitwear designer with eco-friendly, colorful designs. Pretty big fan of Stella McCartney too.
Charlie: What has been the greatest moment in your career?
Claire: It is always such a joy to see my vision come to life. When you have a final piece and a photographer captures it beautifully, the results always make me do a dance.
Charlie: What are your goals in the next year?
Claire: I have been getting into installations and I look forward to doing more and combining my installations with my fashion. I’d like to make one that is interactive and immersive.
Charlie: What advice would you give to a new creative trying to succeed?
Claire: Be prepared for the long haul. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Charlie: Fashion is all about collaboration, what do you look for in a collaborator; be it for photography or in models?
Claire: Good question. I have had the great fortune to enjoy some amazing collaborations over the years. The best ones are truly synergistic. You have similar goals and aesthetics and you are willing to give up some control.
Charlie: Few rapid-fire questions for you
BLT club sandwich or PB and J?
Claire: I eat a lot of PB and J. Almond butter and orange marmalade.
Charlie: First thought of the morning?
Claire: I love the light in the morning, it makes everything look so fresh.
Charlie: Deep Dish or Thin Crust
Claire: Thin crust.
Special thanks to Claire Drennan for her time and Gerard Harrison for the images.
About the Artist:
P.C. Mark Rigsby
Originally From East Tennessee, Claire makes her creative home in Houston’s East End since 2014. Starting her fashion love in Chile in the mid 2000s she began working with Chilean artisans and designers to create custom pieces, returning to the United States to study Fashion Design at the MAssachusett College of Art and Design, and Kitting at Rhode Island School of Design.
Claire’s works can be found at several art pop-ups in the Houston and Austin area as well as http://www.clairedrennan.com/