We caught up with one of our favorite whimsical designers Clare Vivier. Her playful graphic tees and handbags are a staple of ours, and we couldn’t help but subject her to lots of questioning about inspirations, favorite colors and branding…
From start to finish what would be your ideal food day?
Well, an ideal day would be poached egg on toast for breakfast, crispy rice salad from Song for lunch, steak frites or homemade soup (by my husband) for dinner – with a nice glass of French red wine, of course.
How do you always start your day?
With coffee and cuddles with my son and Paco our dog, who’s not allowed upstairs so I try to make him feel good in the AM.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
From traveling, from people and creative life around LA, and from the people I work with.
What are your favorite three colors, if you had to pick?
Bleu, rose, rouge
Graphic tees are everything right now; what’s different about the way you execute them?
We always try to incorporate some of our hand-drawn letters, and a sense of humor.
Is there a saying or quote you wanted to put on a t-shirt that fell through and you weren’t able to execute? What was it?
Probably many times. Most recently I wanted Teotehuacan.
What is your favorite quote?
“There but for the grace of god go I.” I’m not religious, so “god” could be replaced by “happenstance,” but the general vibe is to keep things in perspective and to be grateful for life—I’ve got things pretty good.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? The worst?
From my father: “You can be whatever you want to be baby,” which makes me think of the James Baldwin quote “Your crown has been bought and paid for, now all you have to do is wear it.” Both of them, to me, remind me that there have been many people who have come before us to get us to the place we are now, be that our parents of legions of people who have fought for our right to be equal. Worst advice? I cannot even remember…
What’s your advice to girls struggling to be self confident?
My advice would be what I always try to convey to my son as well, which is that there’s no difference between them and you. Everyone is just as insecure as the next, it’s just how well you hide it. So just have empathy, don’t look around, and put one foot in front of the other.
What’s something you were always insecure about that you were able to overcome?
I cannot think of anything – which is either because I’m still insecure about it or because I don’t have many things I’m insecure about.
How important are collaborations?
Collaborations are good for marketing reasons (content generators), but also fun to get into categories other than what your brand is in. For example, we just made chocolate bars with Valerie Confections, which was something we loved doing but don’t have the bandwidth or resources to do on our own.
What’s one item of clothing every woman should own?
Maybe I’m biased, but a Clare V. clutch.
What’s your morning and nightly routine?
Morning: 6:30/45 make sure my son is awake, go down to the kitchen to start the coffee pot, upstairs to shower, get dressed and get out the door to work.
Evening: 6:45/7 get home, call my son down from his room to come say hi and give me a hug, give Paco our dog adequate attention and scratches, debrief the day with my husband in the kitchen while having a piece of cheese on a cracker while dinner cooks.
How important is whimsy for a brand? How do you define good branding?
Whimsy is not for every brand. Many amazing luxury brands are killing it with branding and there’s not a touch of whimsy. It works for ours because there’s an element of humor and not taking yourself too seriously. Good branding is establishing a personality for the brand and sticking to it so that people can always recognize it. It helps when there’s a person behind it because there’s an authentic source for that perspective.
What are your favorite spots to eat in LA, Paris and NYC?
If you could put one food on a tee shirt that you haven’t yet, what would it be?
Tête de Moine
If you could create a quote of the day to sum up your current mood and mode, what would it be?
Smile and keep your head up.
Clare Vivier, photographed at De Maria in New York, NY