Meet the Maker: Clare Louise Frost

Meet the Maker

Clare Louise Frost is a designer and lover of textiles, who travels extensively collecting incredible antique pieces along the way. We sat down with Clare to view some of her collection and hear more about her work.

Clare Louise Frost is a designer and lover of textiles, who travels extensively collecting incredible antique pieces along the way. She co-owns Tamam, a treasure trove in New York City’s East Village filled with unique Turkish rugs, suzanis, and block printed textiles. We sat down with Clare to view some of her collection and hear more about her work.

How and when did you become interested in textiles?

I have always been interested in clothing. As a child I liked to create clothing for my trolls, Barbies and paper dolls. One of my favourite toys was a set of paper dolls with Victorian clothing – all those layers, pleats and tasseled trim (swoon!).

My grandmother was an excellent seamstress and made clothing for everyone. I still marvel at her skill and creativity. There are pieces that she made for my mom in the 1970s that I still have now.

As I’ve got older, I’ve become more interested in traditional clothing that can be made without fussy patterns, such as kimonos, chapans or sarongs. These use the straight line of the fabrics and minimize waste while making elegant garments that work ‘off’ the body that they cover, rather than fitting over the body’s shape like a shell.


You travel often, can you tell us where your favorite place to visit is?

I do like to travel, but more than that, I just like to be in different places so that I don’t feel like I’m stuck in one place. I loved living in Istanbul, and miss it every day.

Do you have a favourite piece you have collected on your travels?

Oh gosh, endless! They’re usually small things that I just loved. I don’t “try” to collect things, but I’m a stuff person and I just do. I love the feeling of seeing something and knowing it belongs to you – there’s no question, I have to buy it. It’s a long-lost friend. Things do reverberate.

I was in Jaipur in February with our Tamam Travel group. We were at a silver shop and there were these tiny, perfectly rectangular, vintage sterling pill boxes. Smaller than a matchbox. The shape, the smooth planes, the edges, the size – they were SO satisfying and perfect. I bought two. One I gave as a little gift and the smallest one I kept. It sits beautifully in your hand. It’s useless, functionally; it just sits on a bookshelf, but I love holding it.

Can you tell us about your tours through Turkey?

With Elizabeth Hewitt, my co-owner at Tamam, we’ve been inviting people to come with us on tours through ‘our’ Turkey. The trips are ten days, and we travel to Istanbul, Konya, and Cappdoccia. We bring our travelers to meet our favorite friends and dealers in the Grand Bazar, we eat food from all over Turkey and get an amazing education in the material and culture of the country.  It’s off-the-beaten-path, immersive travel. Our groups are small, social, fun. I can’t recommend travelling with us more!

We often get people who work in the design world, or people generally interested in design, but our trips are by no means exclusively for designers. They’re for anyone who would like to get to know Turkey with us and we’ve had people from all sectors and corners of the world.


What inspired you to begin to create fabrics and what is your creative process?

Everything is pretty much a diary entry. Usually, I’ll be thinking of colors or some motif or design for years. As a one-woman-band, I can’t produce as many designs as I’d like to. Creating designs is second nature to me and much easier than selling them but, one must support the other.

I hand draw or paint all my designs. If it’s a block print, the design goes to the block carvers, then we test the blocks together with the block printers, before moving on to dye and pigments. I’m always trying to recreate the colors that are in my mind!

What makes a fabric special?

I think that fabrics, like any creative product, should have a perspective and an authenticity that is unique. There are lots of types of fabrics out there – from high end mass market and low-quality mass market, to the smaller personality and voice-driven lines like mine.

There are so many genres, I almost think that there’s no point in comparison. A lovely feel in the hand, an unexpected color combination, a unique way of applying the fabric in a finished product – to me these are all things that can make a fabric feel special.

You are also a film producer and actor, is your creativity with fabrics woven together with your producing and acting?

I guess I just like to be busy making what I love. It all comes from the same place. I do love getting to hone my sense of color and design in a production. A love for antique textiles features very strongly in the plot of our first feature film, The Sisters Karras. It will be streaming later this year so stay tuned.

My fabrics and clothing have also been used in TV shows and movies that I wish I could have acted in! I love seeing my designs in an HBO show, or when a costume designer buys a dress of mine for a character in a big-budget film.

I was in a Netflix show a few years ago where I played a young Agatha Christie, c.1917. My costumes were custom-made, and my inner paperdoll-loving child adored wearing them. If not Victorian, then at least Edwardian! The travel outfit, with hat, and trim jacket was my favorite.