I can spot a Claire Pettibone dress from a mile away. There’s a sense of effortless whimsy and romance woven into every collection that’s completely beyond compare. And since we happen to be some of Claire’s biggest fans (seriously, we should make t-shirts), we decided to catch up with everyone’s favorite design darling to find out just what makes her tick. Elizabeth Messina captured the loveliest photos ever of Claire, her sweet husband, and her newest showroom…which just happens to look a lot like a castle. Ok, it’s official — this girl has it ALL.

SMP: Tell us how you got your start in the fashion industry?
I began working as a design assistant for one of my professors at Otis who was freelancing for a lingerie company. When I graduated, I was offered the position of Head Designer.

SMP: The first article of clothing you ever designed?
I made clothes for myself when I was a teenager…before I even imagined I would be a designer.

SMP: Do you remember the moment you realized you’d “made it” in the industry?
When my second ever runway collection made the cover of WWD. I really hadn’t “made it”, but it was such a huge deal for a relatively unknown designer to be featured in this way, and remains to this day, one of my favorite moments. My husband was up early checking the news of the day, and he saw it, and just about fell out of his chair! Another sweet surprise, also discovered by my husband checking the news, was of course the Mark Zuckerberg/Priscilla Chan wedding last year. That was probably more of a “made it” moment, and absolutely impacted our business.

SMP: Single greatest lesson you’ve learned in business?
Stay true to your integrity and your vision, and success will come. We have had many challenges and many blessings over the years, and we have learned to treat both with a sense of trust, perseverance and above all, gratitude.

SMP: Three things every woman should have in her closet?
A dress that makes you feel confident, a killer pair of shoes, and some great fitting jeans.

SMP: What can we look forward to in upcoming bridal fashion trends?
I am loving sleeves…whether short or long, I think strapless may have finally had its day.

SMP: Your biggest piece of advice for brides?
When choosing your gown, try to drop into your own heart, and hear your own voice. Lots of people have opinions, but if you can quietly listen to yourself and think about your fiancé and what you want to say to him, surrounded by your loved ones on this very meaningful day, the choice will become clear.

SMP: Some words to live by?
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open… No artist is pleased. No satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”  -Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille

Photography: Elizabeth Messina