About the designer…
Fashion Designer Harold Clarke is a native of the island of Jamaica. There, he was introduced to high fashion by his grandmother, a seamstress and socialite inspired by the greats of Europe. When his grandmother’s vision began to fade due to diabetes Harold helped her continue the craft she loved by guiding her hands as she sewed beautiful additions to her collection. This is how he started to learn the technical aspects of fashion and design. Later, Harold began to sew for himself by tailoring fashion forward shirts.
When he started to sell the shirts off his back the entrepreneur was born. Harold’s love for fashion followed him to the United States in 1969.
After his arrival to New York City, Harold completed F.I.T.’s Fashion Design program in the early 80’s. Immediately after completing the design program Harold began to work in the industry with designer James Galanos. There he was introduced first hand to the art and value of couture garments. It wasn’t long before Harold stepped forward as the head designer of his own line of one-of-a-kinds and limited editions using the techniques and principals of haute couture. Along the way, his wife was by his side propelling the brand forward with an initial investment launching Harold Clarke Couture. The brand grew further with the love of specialty stores and boutiques across the United States and beyond.
Soon Hollywood began to call on the design studio to create fabulous high fashion pieces for celebrities such as Linda Evans of the hit show “Dynasty” fame. He has also over the years designed for Delta Burke, Vivica Fox, Vanna White, Kim Fields, Pattie Labelle and many others. His work has also been commissioned for major motion pictures by Jim Carey and Lifetime networks.
He also has the acknowledgement of the arts community with two couture pieces in the permanent collection of the Louisiana State Museum. His work has been featured in the international media and most recently Harold Clarke’s atelier was featured during a taping of the hit show “The Long Island Medium”.
Harold Clarke was also recently acknowledged with a special proclamation from the City of New Orleans for his role as a pioneer of the fashion industry and also received a special lifetime achievement award during the Fashion Week New Orleans awards gala. His vision continues with the return of his wholesale collection featured in a viral collection look book available at www.harold-clarke.com.
Why did you get into the fashion industry?
When Harold was a young designer in the industry he realized that it was his hands and the hands of other immigrants like himself that was creating these amazing couture pieces. His works were being worn by celebrities and socialites around the world with another designers name. He believed in his craftsmanship and knew that if he launched his own line clients would see the art of the craft in each garment and his brand will grow one garment at a time.
What inspired you?
Like many young artists growing up it the 1950’s, Harold was inspired by Old Hollywood. The starlets, the costumes, the red carpet glamour, it all spoke to his creativity. That combined with the love of the European masters etched a design sensibility apparent in every sketch he creates.
How did you start your business?
The love of Old World Glamour may have sparked more than one high fashion collection but it was the love of one woman that launched this fashion brand. Wife and partner Iona Clarke supported Harold’s vision of high fashion luxury during her career in finance with Chase Manhattan Bank. It was her retirement savings that she used to invest in and launch the brand over 35 years ago. Today, we are still here committed to build our brand one garment at a time.
What makes your brand/products/services stand out from the rest?
At Harold Clarke Couturier Atelier is is all about relationships. Our relationships as a family extend to our relationships with our clients. Our clients become family and at the end of the day we are all a part of the same house. A house of design where the clients interact directly with the designer. Then at times our clients become a part of our branding efforts internationally. Here we live and breathe fashion. Those who are inspired by that are always welcome with open doors.
Is this your first business? Do you have any other brand?
Over the years, we have chosen to stay true to the founding elements of our brand. One of a kinds, limited editions, very high fashion garments with at times intricate detailing made with the world’s finest materials is what we love to do. We have been fortunate enough to be able to live and do what we love everyday.
In 2013 we launched our signature fragrance featuring feminine tropical notes reminiscent of Harold’s days on the islands.
Who are your customers?
The Harold Clarke brand is for the woman who has arrived and entered a world of sophistication. She is becoming more selective in her style choices and wears styles that reflect her individuality and represent her lifestyle. They look less at trend and more within themselves for wardrobe inspiration. Colors, fabrics, trim and fit that fulfill the individual needs of our clients, shape and mold the collections. Our clients are socialites, brides, debutantes, royalty, philanthropists, politicians, and all trendsetters. We are here for the woman that is not afraid to take risks and have fun with fashion. Artists, professionals, mothers, activists; all filled with life, passion, and style. We at Harold Clarke believe that fashion is a billboard of the soul.
“Our clients, the company, and our designs display a driving force within us the pursuit of the American Dream”.
What are your expectations for the future?
For the future, we will continue to grow and solidify the brand securely for future generations. We will continue to expand our wholesale collections and introduce our lines to more and more markets internationally. We will explore licencing opportunities and will pursue solid relationships with like minded luxury vendors.Harold Clarke will also begin to teach the trade that has served him well throughout his career passing his experience and skill on to future design visionaries.