Clare Dawn Couture is producing the most exciting work with sealskin that I’ve seen in some time.
“I wanted to challenge sealskin fashion” Clare says. The small body of commercially available work here is beautiful, but there are so many ways to work with seal. Her eyes light up as she talks about working with
local, sustainable fabrics, of which seal is the easiest for her to source, I learn.
Clare took 3 years to complete her education at Anna Templeton, instead of the usual 2 for her program, and was grateful for the flexibility as it allowed her to spend more time with her young son and still produce work she was proud of. She’s taking the skills learned there to use seal in a way that is fresh and cosmopolitan, totally different than anything else happening locally.
Inspired by Northern fashion and the young designers who are reimagining traditional clothing, “doing what they want and totally rocking it,” she embraces free movement between custom and innovation. This constant
adaptation to current needs breathes life into a culture. She lights up again showing me the rich purple wool of a poncho and explaining how well she feels seal works with colour.
A gifted knitter, her custom cloaks and sweaters are stunners. Woven baby buntings showcase yet more skills.
An orthopedic background led her to think about making shoes, and she has since found someone on the Northern Peninsula of the island who will be teaching her to make traditional footwear.
She will also be learning about a method called bark tanning with seal hides, a process for leather with fur removed. Poised to continue breaking ground, Clare Dawn Designs can be found at Quidi Vidi Village Plantation, online through Facebook or at claredawncouture.com. Keep an eye out for her collaborations with Kumi Stoddart and Erin Callahan St. John as well.