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Photo credit Nicholas Trikonis
Interview

Clayton and Flavie Webster

11.08.13

Cerre, an exclusive West Hollywood boutique and burgeoning luxury brand, is the brainchild of husband and wife Clayton and Flavie Webster. Through their boutique-meets-atelier on Melrose Avenue, the former models-turned-designers create limited edition leather, sheer, and silk separates, combining the French elegance of Burgundy-born Flavie with Newport Beach native Clayton’s roots in effortless Californian style. In 2011, costume designer Trish Summerville asked the couple to create the signature leather jacket and backpack for Rooney Mara’s character in David Fincher’s film adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Later this month, Cerre’s designs will make another silver screen appearance in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

Interview

Cerre combines French elegance with a California sensibility — what was the inspiration behind this combination?

Clayton: The inspiration is really a reflection of our life together, the blending of our memories and experiences. We both have an appreciation for the long-standing tradition and unyielding approach to design without compromise of the old houses as well as the innovative and free spirited approach to life in California. We want Cerre to be a hybrid of the two, a new approach to the old ways.

How did the two of meet?

Clayton: We met on the train from Paris to Koln. It was really early in the morning and I was in the bar car. She walked by and it was all over for me. I spent the next couple months chasing her around Germany and Paris and getting totally denied. Eventually, I began to lose heart, and that’s when she came to me and made me marry her. Now here we are, 10 years later still in love.

What is your design background?

Flavie: We are both self taught; aesthetics are somewhat of an obsession for both of us. We both rely a lot on instinct and our past experiences; mine growing up in Bordeaux with my grandmother, who was a seamstress, and mother, who is an artist, and Clayton’s past working in experimental film and music are integral parts of our current process. We also gained a lot of understanding from our experience working as models in Paris. Intimately experiencing the materials and the constructions of the collections and seeing them form the atelier to the runway gave us a very unique perspective.

How do you split the design work?

Flavie: There is a little of each of us in every piece. As a woman, I work instinctually toward creating pieces that accentuate a woman’s strengths–the body is really important to me. Clayton is much more concept focused–he spends his time on the details and construction elements of the collection. We joke that his motto is “why make it easy when you can make it extremely complicated?”

Cerre is only available at your West Hollywood store. How did you come to open a stand-alone store? Is this limiting at all?

Clayton: From the beginning, Cerre was about a total vision and experience, not just a collection, and we knew we had to frame our ideas in a world that was totally our own to bring them to life. Rather than being limiting, having our own store has given us the ability to really connect with our clients in a way that would not be possible in an environment someone else created, and to experiment with designing everything, from the store itself to the furniture and other objects in the space. It operates like a lab or test space for our ideas.

Do you have customers all over the world asking for you to expand?

Flavie: We do have clients from all over the world. It has been so exciting for us to see the brand reach from the US to Europe and as far as Russia, Japan and Brazil. We are working on expanding Cerre, but we must do it carefully to maintain our vision and strict attention to detail.

Is it ever a challenge to communicate the brand’s values and minimalist aesthetic to the LA customer?

Clayton: Not really. Our clients in LA are extremely sophisticated, and LA in general is one of the most interesting cities in the world to be in right now. We also designed our store to perfectly encompass our vision and frame the collection; it is very specific and it communicates our message subconsciously. At the end of the day, it is about removing the noise so the collection can speak for itself.

Who does the creative work for the brand’s videos?

Flavie: Clayton does all of the creative direction for Cerre. He conceptualizes the video and works with our friends on almost all of the parts, from editing with our friend Chris Friend, to making the music with Brian McKinley of RTX/Black Bananas; he likes to have his hands in everything. For our SS14 film, our friend Adam Neustadter directed.

Do you present a new collection each season?

Flavie: Yes, it’s always an evolution. I approach it like writing a novel about the Cerre woman going through life.

Cameron Silver was an early fan of your brand – how does he reflect your ideal customer?

Flavie: We love Cameron, he is so humble and has a very good sense of humor, and an encyclopedic knowledge of fashion. We actually don’t officially make men’s clothes yet, but he really liked our line and so we made him a custom leather jacket.

Where do you see the brand in five years?

Flavie: We would like our NY store to be open and have several more international stores in the works. I am excited to start presenting the collection in Paris soon, and Clayton is working on getting our men’s collection launched. Finally, we would love to bring more elements into Cerre, from furniture and object design, to music and scents to expand our vision.

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