From the discos of Dusseldorf to the covers of more magazines than any other model in history: one could be forgiven for wondering what else there is still to be added to the Hollywood- esque richness of the Claudia Schiffer ‘story.’ When we meet up with Claudia for this very special Semaine however, it becomes immediately apparent that the most focused member of the supermodel set still has chapters to add.
Not that Claudia necessarily embodied all of the characteristics that some of her supermodel contemporaries sported. Beyond that coquettish smile and instantly recognisable wave of blonde hair, Claudia proved you could be iconic without having to be infamous. A keen business mind driven by quiet determination: these are the qualities that have transcended the stardom of her modelling heyday and allow Claudia to express herself in new ways.
In recent years these new ways have all thrived from the relative seclusion of a ‘settled down’ familial life. Our conversation took place at the home she shares with her three children and husband, film director Matthew Vaughn - the interiors are a stately affair shot through with the idiosyncratic quirks of someone who wasn’t born into such an environment; who has nevertheless had the glorious opportunity to travel the world and drink in endless inspiration before finally coming to resist amongst the rolling countryside of south-east England.
Over the course of our conversation, which touches on Claudia’s modelling career and her haircare line co-founded with Schwarzopf before settling on her latest venture: a new eponymous knitwear line which has just launched. Specifically, the focus of the collection is cashmere, which makes a perfect sort of sense for Claudia - a fibre that is somehow both unassuming and supremely rooted in the world of luxury all at once.
Semaine: You’ve spoken in the past about how you never harboured any ambitions to model - can you talk a little about what it was like to go from growing up in Rheinberg to very quickly appearing on high profile magazine covers? Was it a real culture shock or did it all flow very naturally?
Claudia: “Dancing to ‘You spin me right round’ in a disco in Dusseldorf turned into a whirlwind when a modelling scout saw me. Twenty- five years later I can now see more clearly and reflect that it was both natural and a cultural shock. Unless you’re born into fame and privilege nothing can prepare you for the changes, both good and bad, which is why there are so many short-lived careers. I’ve tried to live as normal a life as possible when not working and so far I have survived... or was it the classic Gloria Gaynor track ‘I will survive’ I danced to.”
Semaine: Your modelling career is obviously heavily associated with the ‘supermodels’ of the nineties. Were you aware of being part of such a particular zeitgeist at the time and what was that like? Can you think of a particular moment that typified that period in your career?
Claudia: “Yes, I would have been a Super Bimbo not to! Being asked to have a Hermes bag named after you and saying no, having thousands of people chanting your name outside of fashion shows and seeing how angry the designers were, and having any opportunity I could imagine and never hearing the word ‘no’ made me realise that the term model would not suffice.”
Semaine: What would your advice be to a new generation of models who are just starting out in the industry?
Claudia: “Don’t be afraid of being labelled boring. Work hard on looking good, don’t party, smoke etc. Have a good lawyer, be punctual and respectful of everyone and follow your instinct. This is how I did it, so that’s all I can advise.”
Semaine: Your most recent focus has been on designing, with the launch of your new knitwear collection imminent. Did that feel like a natural progression from modelling? When did you realise that’s what you wanted to focus on?
Claudia: “Designing has always been a dream of mine, since I was a teenager doodling fashion dresses at home. Now I’ve learned from the best in the fashion and beauty industry. I know what I like, plus what’s great quality and tailoring - and what is not. I’ve worked hard to get to the top of the business and now I have the luxury of doing what I love. I can now create what I can’t find, that I, and others need.”
Semaine: How would you describe the Claudia Schiffer Knitwear collection in your own words?
Claudia: “Cosy chic. I’m inspired by influences from my life in England, Germany and travelling around the world.”
Semaine: With such a high profile already, did it feel like you already had a ‘brand’ before you’d even started? Was this largely a positive thing?
Claudia: “Everyone has a brand, which social media has proven, it’s being yourself. I’m lucky enough that I’m famous, so my brand is globally known.”
Semaine: Why did you choose to focus on knitwear and cashmere in particular?
Claudia: “The three C’s: cosy chic cashmere.”
Semaine: There’s so much hype and pressures that exist in the fashion world around the clothes themselves - do you still get a buzz from that when launching a collection or is it more a case of ‘seen it all before’ and you’d rather concentrate on the actual designing etc?
Claudia: “I love fashion. I have kept all my clothes from over the years, so I have a great archive to go in and out of for each season. I recently pulled out a beautiful brown leather Chanel bag from 20 years ago. It’s totally timeless. I’ll pair it with a new pair of jeans and soft cashmere sweater from my new collection.
Trends always come around again. The intarsia sweaters from my first collection were designed to last. I’ll wear them again this season with skinny dark denim jeans, long suede boots and a fun scarf.
When I design a collection I always think about longevity – will I still be wearing this in 5 or 10 years time? I work on Pinterest moodboards all the time – I have at least 20 on the go at once. Gathering inspiration from film, art, fashion and nature. For this collection I was inspired by the colors, scents and textures from a recent trip to Southern Spain: I love the heirloom-patterned rugs, mosaic tiles and amazing textiles.”
Semaine: Who or what have been your biggest inspiration in designing the collection?
Claudia: “Me. I’m designing what I love and can’t find.”
Semaine: Where would you like to see the brand head in the future?
Claudia: “One day, I’ll never have to buy someone else’s products!”
With that we leave Claudia to her ideas, crafting an expansive world that may be in her own image but also feels inclusive and relatable. We’re left with the distinct impression that her new knitwear collection is but the first of many enticing projects on the horizon - we can’t wait to see them take shape.
By James Darton for Semaine.
Wool Pullover with Cashmere
Navy stretch silk pyjamas
Drew Wonder Woman small suede and leather shoulder bag
Styliste Ultime Biotin+ Volume Hairspray
Christy leopard-print calf hair point-toe flats
Wool pullover with cashmere
Art Couture Nail Lacquer - 664
Gold screw ring
Lace up dress
Dick Tracey fedora
Semaine X Angelica Hicks - Hit GirlExclusive to Semaine
Inside Claudia's Wardrobe
Claudia describes her wardrobe as a mix of designer, vintage and high street picks, acknowledging that the lines between the three are becoming increasingly blurred nowadays. “Recently I pulled out a beautiful brown leather Chanel bag from 20 years ago that I’ll pair with some new jeans and a soft cashmere sweater from my latest collection. Trends always come around again, it’s so difficult to have a unique style all of your own.”
Beyond the fashion archives assembled over the decades, there are a few everyday items that Claudia can’t live or travel without, from the ever-dependable iPad to (of course) a purse stuffed with photos of her children and dogs.
Lace-Up Blouson Pullover
essence ULTÎME OMEGA OIL+ Repair Expert
Christy point-toe shoes
Oversized 'C' sticker
Oversized 'S' sticker
Le Skinny De Jeanne
At Home with Claudia
Claudia’s countryside home is a mix of understated Scandinavian design from Skandium, antiques from markets and dealers alike, plus a whole host of quirky pick-ups from the likes of Garbstore and The Conran Shop.
“Follow your instinct.”
“My kids and my husband.”
“All the people who only get appreciated in a crisis: soldiers, police, doctors, nurses etc.”
“A happy secure family.”
“I love to listen to eighties music. I love Fly, the Eddie the Eagle soundtrack produced by Gary Barlow. I had so much fun watching this album being put together. I also like Elton John, Queen, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Prince, David Bowie and Adele.”
“Still Alice, The Fault In Our Stars and Kramer vs Kramer.”
“A soft oversized cashmere sweater, jeans and flat sandals.”
“Toasted white bread with marmite and P.G Tips that my husband introduced me to.”
“Eating a greasy burger and an ice cold Fanta on a jetty in Mallorca and then diving into the beautiful ocean.”
Surely one of the undoubted perks of being catapulted into the supermodel lifestyle is getting to see so much of the world - so how nice for Claudia that so many of her favourite places are situated in London where she lives. Of course, everybody needs to get away once in a while, which is where “the Seychelles, Corsica, Mallorca and Sardinia” come in handy…
Wool and Cashmere pullover with lace-Up front
Velvet 80 - Classic opaque tights
Escape leopard print tote bag
Étoile Ralf suede ankle boots
Architectural Digest app
From Morning Until Night
Claudia’s daily routine is, like Claudia herself, a finely balanced blend of the down-to-earth and superstar-in-residence. Photoshoots and design work are sandwiched between the morning school run and an evening glass of wine. And every night without fail? “I kiss my husband goodnight.”
“I wake up and start the day with an espresso followed by eggs. I love to listen to 80s music - right now the Eddie the Eagle soundtrack that Gary Barlow produced. I had so much fun watching this album being put together. I also like Elton John, Queen, Macklemore, Prince, David Bowie, Adele, Christine and the Queens…”
“For the school run I’ll throw on a cashmere sweater dress, scarf, boots and sunglasses.”
“I work out by doing long walks with our dogs, tennis, yoga or pilates.”
“I use Schwarzkopf Essence ULTIME Lotus Blossom + Color Protect in the shower to make my hair colour last, whilst also giving it a really healthy look.”
“This is around the time I’ll start answering my emails…”
“Then I start working on design, inspirations and Pinterest. I use my iPad Pro and use the Apple pencil to send my design notes and sketches to my knitwear team in LA.”
“Depending on my schedule, I’ll often drive to London for meetings or photoshoots.”
“I relax by watching films, surfing the net for art, furniture or home accessories and by reading books and taking long baths.”
“In the evenings during the week I love staying in with my husband and watching movies: Layer Cake, Eddie The Eagle, Stranger Things or other TV series on Netflix. Modern Family, Blended and Cinderella with my kids, Back to the Future, Fame, Flashdance, Kingsman, Kickass, Splash and anything by Pixar.
At the weekend I love inviting close friends over.It’s always lots of fun - eating way too much food,playing card games or backgammon. I mix my favourite cocktail for everyone - Passion Fruit Martinis. I also keep a bottle of Channing Tatum’s Grand Teton Vodka in my fridge. It blew my mind and sparked an obsession for passion fruit martinis.”
“My favourite book at the moment to curl up with is Ghost Girl by Tonya Hurley.”
“The last thing I do before I go to sleep is kiss my husband goodnight.”
Essence Ultîme Lotus Complex⁺ Color Protect Shampoo 250 ml
Wool cape with cashmere