Claire Garvey — queen of fantasy, costume-like fashion, always to be relied upon to create extraordinary, one-off garments and capsule ready-to-wear collections of a soft, romantic, slightly medieval nature — has changed.
Welcome, then, Mistress Garvey, designer of audacious garb for vampy-fairy, 21st-birthday chicks who look as if they have stepped out of the world of manga. If Lord of the Rings had seen Claire’s dresses, I bet the elves would have been dressed differently and Liv Tyler could have smouldered her way through Mordor, instead of being all fey and virginal, and as inspiring as a wet sheet.
It was attending a debs’ show last year and meeting a whole new generation of exciting, unbound clients that brought about the change in Claire. Since then, commissions have rolled in from gorgeous young things, mainly for 21st-birthday parties. Now Claire finds herself having the most fun she has ever had in her design career.
“I never even thought I was fed up with fashion until I did these commissions! Since I started this, it is the most excited I have been,” she said. “Dealing with people who are still interested in fashion . . . You have more life in you when you embrace modernity. A lot of people I know are dwelling on the recession, but young people aren’t. They are still full of enthusiasm, and they make you feel that way,” Claire told me, her voice brimming with excitement.
“They are an interesting group of people to design for. Most of them are in college, or working. They want one-offs and difference. They might ask to be a tree, or a butterfly, or for a ballet dress in leather, but they are interested in the couture end of things. They are informed about fashion, and they’re into modernity, and designers such as Alexander McQueen. So it has been a different angle,” she explained. “It is like the 21st has replaced the wedding as a rite of passage. I mean, the dress does cost nearly as much as a bridal dress.
I think also it is from MTV’s My Super Sweet 16 — they go all-out and hire nightclubs and have all kinds of themes and things. And I think a lot of it is Cheryl Cole, too. I think my sexiness is back!”
Has it made her feel younger? “About a hundred million per cent!” was Claire’s prompt reply. “I still like the romantic, but I prefer modernity. It is a completely different swing. I don’t think I could go back. I don’t know what it is about ageing, but you either love or hate youth. I realise I was working so hard I wasn’t seeing. My eyes are open again,” she told me And how. Go, Claire!
PHOTOGRAPHY BY EDINA VALENTOVA
STYLED BY JEMMA CONNOLLY
FASHION EDITED BY CONSTANCE HARRIS
Make-up and hair by Beata Ryba, email firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com