– Words and photographs by Lia Crowe
Claudia has always been someone I’ve gone to for fashion inspiration. When I have a nugget of an idea but need to distil it into a concrete concept, I’ve relied on her knowledge of fashion and trends and her passion for all things visual. She also has a strong sense of personal style and with her boutique Bernstein & Gold, she brings a fresh, current and bold aesthetic that has elevated this city to the category of fashion forward.
So, it is a real treat to meet Claudia for a chat about her life, style and inspiration, and what she holds as important. She’s owned a retail boutique in Victoria for close to 20 years, so I wonder what aspect of her work fires her up and keeps her going.
“It’s the customers and the fashion,” she says. “There’s a thrill in the buying for the next season: the trends, colours and fabrics, and what direction I’m going to take the store next. And that all comes from feedback I get from clients while working on the floor; being on the floor is everything.”
And what is Claudia most excited about for spring 2020? “There’s an interesting mix. The ’90s are definitely showing up again, and wild florals in big prairie poofs.”
Asked what innate quality has led to her success, Claudia says her strength lies in the buying. “Choosing out of the million things you see, sifting through countless amounts of pictures and fabric swatches, going to the showrooms, meeting designers and really paring it down. It’s about trusting your instincts and being able to take risks. It can’t be boring, it needs to be fresh but still wearable. That’s what I spend the most time fretting about — it has to be right.”
And what essential daily practice has she adopted in her work?
“Something that I try to show up with every morning is — listening to customers. They are coming through the door, they chose to spend their time with me and it has to be special, it has to be personal, it has to be meaningful to them in all aspects of the interaction. I have a great team and they all subscribe to that same philosophy.”
Since she is the mother of a toddler, I asked Claudia: what is the best life lesson she’s recently learned?
“One big thing I’m passionate about is self-care and wellness and making it a priority in my life. Going back to basics — from natural skincare to even the type of clothes and how much that you buy — incorporating the right things into your life, making better choices and honouring what matters to you. My self-care practice is focused on my garden because it’s something I can do with my son. It’s all about keeping your body well to preserve yourself, so you can be there for that person. You don’t think about that in your 20s very much, or at least I didn’t.”
When it comes to personal style, Claudia says she likes things pretty and casual.
“I’ve always liked flowing blouses, nice fabrics and patterns, but most days I’m in jeans and sneakers because I’m running around and I need to be able to move.”
So what does good style mean? “It has to feel like it’s you. And it’s a feeling; it’s the way your body responds in clothes, the way you move. It doesn’t have to be expensive or be designer, it just needs to feel like there has been some thought behind it. It has to work for the person and you can usually tell by the way they carry themselves in it.”
STYLE INSPIRATIONS & LIFE
Style icon: Stella McCartney.
Favourite artist: Mark Rothko.
Favourite piece of art: Jackson Pollock’s “Autumn Rhythm.”
Favourite fashion designer or brand: Chloé/Stella McCartney style and brand philosophy.
Favourite musician: Too many but Neil Young is in the top five.
Era of time that inspires your style: ’70s and now.
Film or TV show that inspires your style or that you just love the style of: Toni Collette in Wanderlust.
Favourite local restaurant: Brasserie l’Ecole.
Favourite cocktail or wine: Old Fashioned.
Album on current rotation: Best of the ’80s on Spotify.
Favourite flower: Thistle.
Favourite city to visit: New York City.
Favourite hotel: 1477 Reichhalter, South Tyrol.
Favourite App: Instagram for the store.
Favourite place in the whole world: Copenhagen.
FASHION & BEAUTY
Uniform: Straight-leg high-waist Mother denim, Ulla Johnson blouse or top with big sleeves, sneakers.
All-time favourite piece: Ulla Johnson blouse with lace and ruffles.
Currently coveting: A new wallet by Celine.
Favourite pair of shoes: Isabel Marant sneakers.
Favourite day-bag: WANT Les Essentiels backpack.
Favourite work tool: My iPhone.
Favourite jewellery piece or designer: Initial necklace by Pascale Monvoisin.
Fashion obsession: Sneakers.
Accessory you spent the most money on: Chanel bag.
Moisturizer: Susanne Kaufmann Hyaluron Serum.
Scent: Love by Chloé.
Must-have hair product: Hair mask by Kerastase.
Beauty secret: Sleep, laugh and facials by Jamie.
What you read online for style: Numerous style blogs but I still like traditional Vogue Paris and Schöner Wohnen (interior design) for style news and links to other sites and blogs. It’s truly endless.
Fave print magazine: The Gentlewoman.
Fave style blog: Who What Wear.
Coffee table book/photography book: A Frame for Life: The Designs of StudioIlse by Ilse Crawford.
Last great read: She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey.