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Jun 5, 2010

Interview with Claire Jane Vranian of ICJ

Claire Jane Vranian is the creative force behind ICJ (Inspired By Claire Jane). This stunning beauty is a self-taught artist whose label focuses on the creation of a unique line of shirts and fashion accessories that sport an uptown elegance mixed with a rock ‘n’ roll edge. 

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Claire, her husband Chris, and sister Emma, who are equally as charming. Claire was decked out in her creations and also brought along one of her fabulous bags. If I had not known she made it I would have sworn she bought it at one of the fancy boutiques up the street. She joked about when her mom saw her bags she said “I didn’t know you could sew,” and Claire’s response was “Neither did I.” She also mentioned that once she got over her fear of trying something on her own she was able to launch ICJ. She wished she had done it 10 years ago, but later is better than never. So let that be a word of advice to all of you who are thinking of trying something new. You most likely have little to lose but a lot to gain.

After looking at your website I have to say that I am impressed by your diverse talents. How did you get your start in fashion?

I’ve always had a passion for clothes, handbags, music, hair, and make up. I love shopping and looking for really unique different pieces - vintage and new. I started creating and designing back in Nov 2008—not that long ago—but felt I had a calling to express my creativity after being around and working in such a creative environment surrounded by so many talented artists in the special make up effects industry. Literally, one morning, I woke up and decided I wanted to make a purse and just did it! I’d wear it out and was getting compliments and people were asking, “Where did you get that? It’s so unique and different,” and after me telling them I designed and sewed it the next thing was “How do I get one of those?” and from that my ‘Inspired By Claire Jane’ collection was born.

I love the quality of your shirts and how comfortable they are. How did you come up with the various logos on your shirts?

Back in August 2009 I was speaking with Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) after I created some custom purse orders for his wife, and he asked me to design some shirts for him to wear on stage, so the Union Jack was inspired from that (and of course I’m British!). I am influenced by a lot of rock and roll. My husband Chris owns, and I wanted to create a line of Rock 'n' Chic shirts that are unisex to ‘Bring out that inner Rock Star!’ My use of skulls in my designs come from my background of working on horror films and skulls are something we all have and can relate to. The long haired ladies ICJ design represents me, as I was often called ‘Claire with the Hair,’ and that design I feel is very feminine and fun and of course I LOVE the crystals. I’m all about comfort and quality so before I decide to sell a shirt I will wear a sample of it for a week or so and wash it and really get a feel for the fabric.

Your purses and hair pieces are beautiful and each one is unique. What influences these creations?

Now that’s a good question…I am influenced by fabrics, textures, and colors. I love feathers, lace, pearls, vintage prints, and jewelry. I’m evolving with my designs constantly, as I think it’s important to keep moving forward, and once I’ve created a piece I don’t really revisit it again… it’s done…I shared that moment with my materials and that’s what came from it. I have to be in the mood to create. Some days I just don’t feel it and other days my design fairies are sitting on my shoulders! I feel my work is very emotional, every stitch counts and this is my art and I love to make it wearable and sharing with other people is amazing.

Does your experience as a make-up artist influence your color combinations?

I’m not a make-up artist. I’ve worked with a Special Make-up Effects company, Two Hours in the Dark, Inc. on and off for the last 16 years and have worked on movie sets assisting and coordinating. But, being around those sets and the FX studio the colors can be quite dark…I think some of my purses/fascinators do reflect that. To me it’s like Gothic meets bordello meets rock and roll with a dash of old Hollywood glamour!
You recently came out with a line of Pet Owner Charity Purses with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Las Vegas Hot Diggity Dachshund Club. What inspired you to do this and why did you select this particular charity?

My friend in Las Vegas who owns Vegas Rock Dog asked me if I would like to donate a T-shirt to a raffle for this charity event she was organizing and I agreed to that, but the next day I was inspired by a fabric I saw with Dachshunds and thought it was fate that I needed to make and donate a purse for that event instead of donating a shirt. I lined the purse with Zebra print to make it more hip, and I decided to put a page on my website because the response was so good to the purse on the night of the event (I want to do one for cats too). Also, the people who run that Charity are fantastic and these little animals need assistance in getting adopted and taken care of and I love sausage dogs. They are so cute. They make me smile!

Do you have any pets?

Yes, I have two beautiful Himalayan cats, Chanel and Cleveland. Here’s their photo! (Click on the slideshow below to see photos of Claire's adorable kitties.)

Do you have any plans to add ICJ dog shirts to your line?

Haven’t planned on it but that could be something for the future!

You also have a line of pendants made of turquoise, some of which are white. I’ve never heard of white turquoise. How did you find it?

I love vintage turquoise pieces and stumbled across the natural white and thought they were different and also the peace sign is a good thing to wear. I like to layer my necklaces with these peace pendants. 

Do you think music and fashion influence each other? 

ABSOLUTELY!! Where do I begin? Look at the power of fashion within the music industry stemming back to the days of David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, Janis Joplin, Elton John, Cher etc…the list goes on…famous iconic figures in music and fashion, amazing! And, look at the trends of today’s music and fashion. It’s out of control - Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Fergie, Pink, Beyoncé, Madonna…again the list goes on. I love it! Anything goes. The more flamboyant the better for me!

I do love Stevie Nick’s style with the flowing sleeves and long hair. I would like to design dresses in that style of the 70’s with a flair. Yeah baby!

Who are some of your celebrity clientele?

You can see a list here at Clients include...
Joe Elliott/Def Leppard, Joe Bonamassa/Guitarist and Singer, Carmine Rojas/Bass Player, Rick Melick/Musician, Chris Vranian/, Nikkole/Singer, Songwriter and Producer, Robert Knight/Photographer, and Maryanne Bilham

What is your must have accessory?

I love sooooo many accessories. I would say my earrings first then hair and make-up and at least one Inspired By Claire Jane piece!

How do you plan your look for a night out?

It depends on where I am going. I will think about the venue/event and pick an outfit that would suit and pick a theme. I love to dress up…always have. I always do my make-up first then hair then the outfit and pick a purse and accessories. I LOVE doing that.

Aside from your website where can people purchase your stuff?

Right now you can only purchase it directly from me on my website.

Do you take custom orders?

Yes, I do take custom orders. You can place them at or call 310- 801-2996.

Narrative by Nikki Neil, Photos courtesy of ICJ

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