A Symphony of Softness

Fern Clausius, Fashion Design ’19

“I’m a very interdisciplinary artist,” says Fern Clausius, an intimate apparel designer whose first collection debuts this year.

Constructed from netting, hand-cut Chantilly lace, and silk taffeta, this bustier took more than 70 hours to complete.

Myriad art forms, from photography to burlesque, inspire her intricately tailored pieces, but she is most nourished by music. Her mother is a pianist, and Clausius grew up playing violin and piano. While sketching, she listens to Bach, Shostakovich, Philip Glass, and her other favorite composers, matching textiles to the color and texture the music evokes.

“Music carries me on an emotional path,” she says, “and my hand captures that emotion.”

Fern Clausius learned photography as a child, exploring her backyard with a Nikon. “I love capturing clarity in a way that seems unnatural to the eye,” she says. Photo: Daniel Featherstone

The pandemic spurred Clausius to start her line, FERN New York. She had been designing for luxury intimates house Kiki de Montparnasse while working full-time with Saks Fifth Avenue’s editorial team. When she was furloughed from Saks, she didn’t find any openings at high-end ateliers and didn’t want to jump to a brand that would “be mass-producing a bunch of clothing that I didn’t feel proud to put out into the world.”

Though she hadn’t planned to start her own brand so soon, she decided the time was right. Her first pieces were custom boudoir basics crafted from remnant textiles, sewn in her home studio and sold to individual clients. She is working with New York factories to produce her first collection, for pre-fall ’23, which she hopes to sell at upscale retailers like Bergdorf Goodman.

Clausius sees her lingerie creations as daring: “I want people to feel like they’re taking a risk, doing something outside their comfort zone, just owning who they are.” Photo: Paul-Henri Pesquet. Models: Aurélie Lacombe, Safa Filipkowski, and Ipsos

Her pieces are feminine—“lots of laces and silks and anything that oozes luxury and softness”—but not just for women. “I want people to be able to explore their feminine side with pieces that fit, whatever their gender might be.”—Jonathan Vatner