Our Story

How do you put 25+ years of history into an "About" page? How do you tell the story of a brand that is really the story of 2 people and their dreams? It's not an easy task, but I'll give it a shot! With new brides discovering us every day, I feel like it's time to re-introduce myself. When we started our business, brides would find us the old-fashioned way by looking at bridal magazines and blogs (yes, I remember actual print magazines and even a world before Instagram and Pinterest!) Now, of course, we're all glued to our screens, so a digital connection is how we often find, and get to know each other. Cloisonne Couture Wedding Dress by Claire Pettibone Claire Pettibone Designer Press Clippings I now realize my childhood was very unique. My artist parents encouraged creativity, and I was exposed to art galleries, museums, and some very colorful characters who showed me that it was possible (and pretty cool) to forge your own path...and that's what I did. I'm an only child, and I've always been an introvert, and prefer that my work speak for me. I like to be behind the scenes, creating my designs, directing photo shoots, and sharing my ideas of feminine beauty. I love nothing more than to see that my work has brought someone joy, and made them feel their most authentic, confident and beautiful.
Claire Pettibone Modeling Age 14 Photos: Left: "Swan" oil on canvas by my mother, Shirley Pettibone Right: "Modeling" at age 14
Claire Pettibone Age 18 with dad, artist Richard Pettibone in his Studio Age 18 with dad, artist Richard Pettibone in his studio
Meeting my husband Guy all those years ago really took my budding creativity to another place. I had never imagined having my own line. I had graduated from Otis Parsons, and was working in the fashion industry as a designer, but we didn't have any money to speak of, and I didn't think starting our own business was even a possibility. But Guy had a background in finance and film production, I had a dream of designing feminine, vintage-inspired lingerie, and you know how they say ignorance is bliss? Well, we just went for it! We started a luxury lingerie company out of our house with big dreams, a super work ethic (that was tested to the limits and grew along the way) and we haven't looked back! Guy Toley and Claire Pettibone, 1996 Lingerie Catalog Cover | Photo: Rudi Weislein Model in Vienna Velvet Night Gown | Photo: Rony Shram Left : Photo: Rudi Weislein                                     | Right: Photo Rony Shram
When we launched my bridal collection, satin ball gowns, and cookie-cutter weddings were the norm. But I just felt like a bride should be more natural, ethereal...still exceptionally beautiful, but not so much in a Disney princess way, but in a blend of Victorian, bohemian, English garden fairy kind of way. And thankfully, there were brides who wanted just that. I remember in the early days, some of the traditional bridal shops would say that my look was "alternative" or just for a destination wedding, but didn't really see it as being a look that most brides would want. Well, I didn't let their doubts discourage me, and I found over time, that the wedding world began to shift. Of course now, there is so much choice and variety when it comes to bridal dresses and weddings overall, that my "no rules" philosophy is the norm! Bride in Chantilly with Groom | Photo: Jose VillaPhoto: Jose Villa
Gypsy Rose Cape and Dress | Photo: Jacqueline Aleace Cheyenne Wedding Dress | Photo: Sarah KateLeft Photo: Jacqueline Aleace | Right Photo: Sarah Kate
When you look at a brand from the outside, it all seems larger than life. You only see the successes, and never the struggles. I remember one time someone said "Oh, Claire Pettibone, she's got money" and I just laughed...can you please show me where?! But somehow we've been able to do some amazing things. And we've had a lot of support from talented and generous creatives who helped us bring our vision to life. Runway shows in New York, photo shoots around the world, and our flagship salon in a Castle (sometimes I can't believe it)! We've had our ups and downs just like any entrepreneurs, and thankfully our marriage has stood the test of working non-stop together for the past 25+ years! The Castle flagship salon in Los Angeles | Photo: Elizabeth Messina The Castle flagship salon photographed by Elizabeth Messina
Claire Pettibone Dress Cover of Inside Weddings Vagabond collection photographed by Kayla BarkerVagabond collection photographed by Kayla Barker
Model in Ophelia New York Bridal Market Week Claire & Guy 2019 Left Photo: Sophie Kaye | Right Photo: Claire & Guy 2019
For me, this business has truly been a labor of love. I love creating laces and embroideries, I love imagining the themes for each season and designing the dresses for every collection. And most of all, I love how my work can bring tears of joy, gasps of wonder, and happy, happy laughter and moments that my brides will remember for the rest of their lives. It's really something... Bride Mary Lawless Lee | Photo: Emmy Lowe Bride Mary Lawless Lee photographed by Emmy Lowe
Left: Odessa in work on dress form | Right: Linda Phan & Claire at her fitting Left: Odessa from the Timeless Collecting in work            | Right: Linda Phan & Claire at her fitting
Sketch Custom Gown for Nikki Reed| Inset: Nikki Reed & Ian Somerhalder | Photo: Glass Jar Photography Sketch Custom Gown | Inset: Nikki Reed & Ian Somerhalder | Photo: Glass Jar Photography
Even now, with a worldwide pandemic, facing our share of challenges just like any small business, I'm so grateful. I get to bring joy and beauty to my clients, and help them look and feel their most beautiful for a truly meaningful day in their lives. I wouldn't trade any of it, and I'm hopeful, and full of excitement for the next chapters of our story.
Lyra Wedding Dress Sleeve Detail Bride in The Castle | Photo: Peony Park Bride in The Castle photographed by Peony Park
Marquis gown & Vintage Vine veil | Photo: Krista Mason Marquis gown & Vintage Vine veil photographed by Krista Mason
For more time-lines and throw-backs, check out our new About Our Story page on the site!

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