In the past decade, fashion has been a revolving cycle of repetition. Each season, the “new” trends are merely regurgitations of the styles from decades past. It was this lack of creativity in the fashion world that spurred Southern designers Sara Jordan and Aimee Wolk to create their own line of women’s fashions: Sara Claire & Esther.
Huntsville, Ala., native Wolk met Floridian Jordan while attending Auburn University, but the two didn’t become friends until they were both living in New York and were re-introduced through a mutual friend. During the road trip from that friend’s North Carolina wedding back to New York, the idea of Sara Claire & Esther was conceived. The line was inspired by and named after the designers’ grandmothers. The ladies describe their designs as “vintage re-imagined,” and create looks based upon the various time periods of their grandmothers’ lives. “We were pretty bored with all the new clothes in the market, and the vintage twist on design really excited us,” says Jordan. Using their experience working for designers such as Donna Karan, Rebecca Taylor and Tibi, the ladies created their very own line. But they don’t simply re-create vintage fashions; they use elements of the past to create completely fresh looks.
Sara Claire & Esther launched with a Spring 2009 collection composed of demure yet alluring pieces featuring color blocking, asymmetry and curved lines that flatter a woman’s figure. There are certain signature elements that can be found on any SC&E piece, and these include gold topstitching and exposed zippers. “The gold topstitching is actually hard to work with, but we love the element of luxury it gives the clothing,” Jordan explains.
Each collection from SC&E uses vintage elements, which means no two pieces are identical. The Spring ’09 collection featured vintage buttons, while Fall ’09, which was inspired by the post-Depression era, features lace taken from antique tablecloths.
The inspiration for the Spring ’10 line, which will be available in September, is the year 1967; specifically, the critically acclaimed film Valley of the Dolls. “Working with the colors and aesthetic of that year has been fun for us,” Jordan says. “We were able to move away from the ’40s and give a new spin to the line.” The vintage element of the new collection is beading, of which Jordan says, “The word ‘dolls’ in the film is slang for pills, and we’re excited because the beads actually look like pills.” After seeing the demand for the dresses in their previous collections, for fall, the pair decided to release a collection composed entirely of dresses. And rather than releasing a large collection, they have created capstone, must-have pieces this time around.
The duo is highly involved with their company, wearing the hats of designer, publicist and sales rep. “It’s very important to us to be hands-on, and make sure everything is handled exactly as we see fit,” Jordan explains.
In the future, Jordan and Wolk plan to open a boutique, and foresee opening that flagship shop somewhere in the South. “We would love to be closer to our roots, and since our grandmothers are Southern, and they are our inspiration, it simply makes sense,” Jordan says.