Claire B Shaeffer– The Queen of Chanel Couture

Claire Shaeffer, Queen of Couture

Meet Claire Shaeffer, the Queen of Couture, especially Chanel.  Claire turned to couture sewing after abandoning her first love, The Circus.  Like many of us, sewing was/is a way for Claire to wear couture fashion that fits and makes financial sense.

Claire, Oscar & Libby

Claire, Oscar & Libby

I met Claire at the first American Sewing Guild conference in San Francisco back in the late ’80s. Over the succeeding years, have followed Claire (even to London on a ‘London Couture Lovers Tour’), her classes, booksVogue patterns, articles in Threads Magazine.

Chanel Class, St. Paul, MN, 1997, and London Couture Lover’s Tour, 1998, were produced by Stitches, the first niche travel business for sewing aficionados.


Just a few of Claire’s 15+ books

So, when in Palm Springs, CA, last month, stopped by for a visit with Claire at her home and was happy to meet the dogs, Oscar and Libby, Louise, who helps with the couture collection, and view another of Claire’s passions–Art.


Like Lewis Carroll’s Walrus, we talked of many things:

        • Lagerfield’s successor: “Karl doesn’t like to let go.”
        • Number of garments in collection:  2000+; Louise helps with the accession listing process.
        • Plans for the collection:  will go to Stephen’s College, Fashion Department in Columbia, MO.  “I know members of the faculty; the Fashion Design program is very good and they have an excellent placement record of graduates.”
        • The French Greeting Kiss–is it on both cheeks? Right then Left? Air kiss? “Usually; R; Yes.”
        • Mme Pouzieux:  Has she been replaced? “Not that I know of.”
        • Did you ever pursue a circus career?  “No, marriage, children, life got in the way and had a car accident that required spinal fusion.”
        • Where do you get garments?  “Online auctions, brokers, vintage stores, eBay.”
        • Do you blog, a website?  “No.  But do follow blogs.  A recent blog discovery is A Little Sewing.”  And do occasionally participate on Artisan Square, a sewing discussion site.”
        • How do you know if a garment is an original or a copy?  “That can be difficult as copies were welcomed during Coco’s day and made in NYC.  Also, labels are often missing.  Marlene Dietrich removed all the labels for one reason or another; the Berlin Museum has a bag of her couture labels.”
        • What is your next book?  “The Couture Skirt: Sewing Secrets from a Chanel Collector out Spring 2014.”
        • You don’t strike me a as a dog person.  “Both Oscar and Libby are from the Humane Society.  Libby is a drop-out from Guide Dog School.”  FYI:  Oscar and Libby are typical dogs who jump, beg under the table, and don’t always ‘hear’ commands; I could have played with them all day.
        • Next magazine article:  “Proposed for Threads–comparing Chanel originals with copies.”
        • Latest trip:  “Returned from Birthday Trip to Australia (Feb 2014) and off to London.”
        • What did you do/see in Australia?  “Went to the Opera and bought Aboriginal art to add to existing from a previous trip.”
        • “You should really interview Allen; he was my Paris guide for many years and is now in the States–Louisiana, I think.  Will get you his contact info.”  Thanx Claire, would love to.
        • “Do you know Hazel Matthys?  She is from MN.  You’d like her.”  Nope, don’t know Hazel but will Google her.
        • Next class:  “Chanel Jacket, May 11-16, 2014.  Couture Dressmaking Secrets, May 17-22, 2014.”  Click on link for details.
        • Thanx for having me Claire; could have spent the whole day with you.
Chanel Skirt. Pleated waistband

Chanel Skirt. Ecru pleated out.

Detail Chanel Skirt from upcoming book

Chanel Skirt

Double back zipper opening

The Collection

Louise with accession information attached to garment

Louise with accession information attached to garment























Art Collection

Mobile from American artist

Mobile from American artist

Aboriginal art just arrived from Australia

Son’s are included here. Can you guess which?



Designer Collection

Collection totals over 2000 garments.


Jason Wu

Jason Wu hook closure

Yves St Laurent

Claire Shaeffer, the Queen of Couture

The two C’s Claire & Carol.


























































Related Links:

Claire Shaeffer Couture Classes

Everything Just So

Claire Shaeffer Demystifies Couture

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