Clare V Talks All Things Beauty, Bags and Family

By Jodie Patterson
January 17, 2021

Jodie Patterson

Ask a woman about her hair, and she’ll tell you about the history of her family. Ask a woman about her makeup, and she’ll talk for hours about the people who raised her. That is because BEAUTY is heritage, expression, comfort, feelings, and most importantly, it is very personal.

I caught up with my L.A. soulmate, Clare Vivier, acclaimed handbag and fashion designer, to understand how she was raised, her take on beauty, and the very predictable path she’s been on - in search of, as she playfully calls them, “fancy things”.


For those who may not already know her work, Clare Vivier is what I like to call, a “slow burn”, she takes her time with just about everything she puts her hands on – you can see it in the detail. She’s also a “forever flame” – one of the most prolific creatives I know. Her work is fire. Perhaps her best quality (which translates in both her personal and professional worlds) is her accessibility. In a world full of busy people, Clare isn’t afraid to make new, genuine friendships (you can thank me later for this introduction).

Over time, Clare's been able to cultivate an identifiable aesthetic that's all her own. Her handbags, accessories, and now apparel have been recognized worldwide by influencers, tastemakers, and celebrities, who support and wear the line. She’s crafted a beautiful play on classic shapes, modern detail, and Parisian charm, and collaborates with exciting brands including Anthropologie, Melissa McCarthy, Mike D., TOMS, Garrett Leight, WallShoppe, The Hundreds, and InStyle, and gives back through charitable partnerships with Every Mother Counts, When We All Vote, I Am A Voter, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Planned Parenthood.

Since opening the very first Clare V. flagship in Silverlake in 2012, additional Clare V. locations have opened in Nolita, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Brooklyn, Newport Beach, San Francisco, Chicago, and Montecito.

— 

Clare and her son

JODIE
You make such beautiful pieces. Have you ever thought about your own beauty?


CLARE
In my house, beauty was not a priority, with 6 siblings, growing-up was pretty chaotic. The things that were valued were reading, and social justice.

JODIE
I can dig that. I don’t usually think about being beautiful, either. I think more about being capable. But if I’m ever pushed to think about my own particular beauty - I think about it as history.

CLARE
Yeah… My own beauty… That’s tricky. It’s hard to talk about. I don't want to be considered vain. It’s looked down upon to talk about your own beauty, isn't it? There's an expression in French, “nombriliste” and we have it in English as well, “Navel-Gazer” - someone who is constantly looking at oneself, constantly thinking “I’m the center of everyone's world” and, “It’s all about me.” There's so much navel-gazing in our culture right now. And really, you’re never the center of anyone else's world. Nombrilisme - I thought about putting it on a t-shirt, ha!

But, if I have to talk about my own beauty, I think about my eyes. They’re big and brown, probably the most striking feature on my face. I've always thought that they’re a good quality in me. My olive skin and my dark features are Mexican. I like my dark features.

JODIE
Navel-gazing, yes! We spend far too much time micro-analyzing ourselves. Our lashes, our hips, our lips and butts. The beauty you and I seem to be talking about, goes deeper than that. For me, beauty is often about family, our heritage and even our habits. I learned so much from my mother. Did you ever gaze at your mom, and study her beauty when you were young?


CLARE
No, I didn't. I never considered her in an external sense. I never looked at my mom’s outer beauty. When I was young, she didn’t exist to me in that way. What existed, was her inner beauty.

But now I see it. Her beauty relates to her grace. It’s how she carries herself. It’s not something she tries to do; it’s just how she naturally is. And I love that she still puts on lipstick when she goes out, (a frosted, pearly, coral color). Even though she doesn't wear any other makeup, her lipstick is that little gesture that makes her feel good, and a little bit more put-together.

Clare in India

JODIE
Did you have any beauty rituals in your home, growing up? I used to watch my mom as she blow-dried her hair with a big round brush. Then a simple arched eyebrow, and a Chanel red lip. It was dramatic, but very simple. That became my model: simple yet powerful beauty.

CLARE
I grew up with a sister who was 6 years older. I’d watch her get ready to go to a nightclub, First Avenue - where Prince would hang out. It was enchanting. That’s what struck me - the eyeliner, the lipstick, and a headband - you know, across the forehand. In my family, we’re all very natural with our beauty routines; we don’t wear a lot of makeup or spend a lot of time getting ready. Those three elements: the eyeliner, the lipstick and the headband, were exciting and very glamorous to me.

JODIE
I think I understand that “traditional” beauty, with all the primping and what-not, is not really your jam. It’s perhaps counterintuitive to you. But I’ve got to ask, do you have a bathroom beauty routine?

CLARE
Fussy isn’t anything that I grew up with. I know that I should be doing more. I see you with your rollers, and I'm like, “God damnit.” And I have those machines, and electronic things, and I'm like, “Man, I need to incorporate that into my routine”. But for some reason, I’ve never dedicated time for that. Basically, it’s just three products: a cleansing milk face wash, a retinol cream and then a rich night cream.

JODIE
Beauty and fashion seem to represent much of the same emotions for you and for me. I’m noticing that what happens for you, with clothing and accessories, is similar to how beauty products make me feel. For us, there seems to be a comfort in those rooms, and in those private practices.

CLARE
Yes! (She gets excited here). Dressing is a beauty routine. It's self-expression, which is exactly what beauty routines are. You're getting yourself to a place where you feel comfortable. Putting on different outfits, and trying on different clothing, it’s like painting a canvas. The elements of an outfit, they’re like paint strokes, and they relate to feelings.

JODIE
I've seen your closet, and it's layered and full of different textures, colors, patterns and shapes. I'm wondering what you’re thinking, when you get dressed?

CLARE
I’m trying to tell a story. When I'm packing for a trip, or getting ready for the day, I think about what I'm going to be doing, and what I want to express. I think, with both fashion and beauty, we're telling a story – whether it be with our products, or with what we wear. We’re telling the narratives of our lives. That’s how we express ourselves. It could be a cream that makes your face look a little more dewy, or a dramatic eyeliner and a bold lip, or wearing all black - it’s all self-expression. We've been expressing ourselves since the beginning of time. We've been adorning and decorating ourselves, in some way, to make us feel more individual. And it has become a way to make us feel good.

Today, I am channeling Patti Smith - straight lines, all black and white. So, I put on all black, which is rare, because my closet is very colorful, I love color. I started off with black jeans, and I asked myself, “Who wears black jeans and always looks good?” And I thought of Patti Smith - a very cool musician, who lived a great life and has sound values.

Clare with Friends

JODIE
Is there a history in your beauty?

CLARE
I think there is history in my beauty! It’s my olive skin. My grandmother had the most amazing, beautiful, olive skin. It was silky and brown, and it always looked moisturized. But it wasn’t because of a process, she just had gorgeous skin. That is part of our Mexican heritage. She also had no hair on her arms and legs, and I've noticed - as I get older - my arms and legs are starting to look more like hers. I love that. I feel proud to look like my Mexican grandmother.

JODIE
I want to talk about your work a bit. You weren’t raised to be frivolous. How then, did you get into designing bags, which is a very detailed, perhaps traditionally feminine process?

CLARE
Well, growing up, I was drawn to my mom’s “fancy things”. I used to pull them out of her closet and try them on. I’ve always had an attraction to expressing myself through clothing and accessories. So, I think it was a very clear-cut path for me. It seems to have made a lot of sense that I ended up doing this.

JODIE
You said a phrase that caught my attention: “fancy things”. What’s your favorite “fancy thing” right now?

Arabelle Bag

CLARE
In my Clare V collection, it’s a new bag called the Arabelle, and she's named after my aunt, who I always thought was fancy. She was my dad's sister, so Mexican, but married to a white guy. They lived a very suburban, or rather, small-town life. But to me, back then, it all felt fancy. She drove an old Mercedes or was it a Jaguar? And she would carry Eitienne Aigner bags, and always wore a perfume that I loved. Oh, you must know it - Anais Anais! Remember it?! That was a very fancy smell to me, because my mom didn't wear perfume, and didn't wear makeup or carry handbags, and we didn't have a fancy car. Everything about Arabelle was fancy to me. So, I named our new bag Arabelle, because it reminds me of her and her ways.

I have a new, “fancy thing” at home that I love. I bought it for myself for my birthday. And it feels very dramatic to wear. It’s the new Isabelle Marant, shearling vest. I can't wait to wear it out in New York, with you!

JODIE
Oh, that will be fun…I can’t wait to see you next! You have such an interesting group of friends. Can you describe your crew?

CLARE
They’re dynamic, strong, fascinating, funny, intelligent women.

JODIE
Have you brought any of your friends into your business?

CLARE
Yes, I have one of my best friends of 25 years ,Gretta, has been working with me since 2012. Also my niece, who is like my daughter works with me sometimes at the New York store. It’s very tricky to work with loved ones and friends. It’s not something I take lightly. They have their own style, and perspective, as do I. But, at the same time, we all need to all be “on-message”. It is a brand, after all. So, who I choose to work with, is a very conscious, and much talked-about decision.

Clare & Friends

As can be seen by her commitment to friends and family, Clare is a stand-out individual who continually strives to challenge the status quo. Her humor and sense of style brings a certain “Je ne sais quoi” to all that she embraces.

Stay tuned for our upcoming IG Live on Wed 27th Jan, where Kat and Clare share their best skincare secrets, give fashion advice and talk all things family.
 

What to Read Next

The Extrovert Indoors

The Extrovert Indoors

What exactly kindles the fire inside extroverts that makes their eyes light up? Introverts may judge, deeming their counterparts shallow or superficial because of their penchant for wanting all the...

Read more
I Used to Have a Plan

I Used to Have a Plan

If the name Alessandra Olanow rings a bell, chances are, you have probably come across her poignant illustrations on social media. Daniela Jung interviews Alessandra for Nourish.

Read more
Clare V Talks All Things Beauty, Bags and Family

Clare V Talks All Things Beauty, Bags and Family

Ask a woman about her hair, and she’ll tell you about the history of her family. Ask a woman about her makeup, and she’ll talk for hours about the people...

Read more