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October 19, 2017

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British fashion invades the Vegas desert

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Mikayla Whitmore

Claire Jane Vranian stands in her showroom in Las Vegas, NV on August 1, 2016.

Fashions by Claire Jane Vranian

Local fashion designer Clair Vranian works out of her home studio, Monday, Feb. 18, 2013. Launch slideshow »

With the queen’s 90th in April, the 10th anniversary of “The Beatles Love” this past month and the Duchess of Cambridge always topping best dressed lists, Las Vegas is primed for a little bit of Brit in its closet.

Claire Jane Vranian brought British fashion to Las Vegas back in 2009, when she conceived of ICJUK (Inspired by Claire Jane UK). The skulls, scarves and fascinators in Vranian’s wearable art are coveted by stylish locals and celebrities such as Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, ACDC’s Tyler Bryant and Heart’s Ann Wilson.

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Product designed by Claire Jane Vranian.

For the rock star in you, her edgy T-shirts are made from lead-free, water-based inks and eco-friendly fabrics to retain a “vintage concert tee” feel. Want that special mix of rock ’n’ roll and elegance? Her Inspired By Claire Jane line of feather couture handbags and hairpieces lends unique sophistication.

With visions of Union Jacks dancing in my head, I drive over to meet Vranian in her private showroom off the Strip. Imagine my delight to find that the entire front room looks like a surf shop!

Dedicated to the newest of her three collections, Ocean Anarchy, this bright, beachy room boasts stacks of cheeky T-shirts proclaiming, “Save a Seahorse, Ride a Mermaid.” There are animal-print swim cover-ups that double as beautiful blouses and custom-print Converse with skulls and cacti.

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Claire Jane Vranian in her office in Las Vegas, NV on August 1, 2016.

“Ocean Anarchy! It’s perfect because I’m British, we’re in the desert, there’s no beach, there’s no ocean; it’s complete anarchy,” Vranian says. “Our slogan is ‘Riding Against the Wave,’ which is now on our tees along with the logo.”

How to style your ICJUK

1. Rock ’n’ roll T-shirt. “These are unisex tees. I love to wear mine with jeans and a biker jacket. For the guys, a ‘rock and chic’ look with a suit jacket and jeans. The ladies tanks are great with either a skirt or jeans, and a fitted classic jacket with rolled-up sleeves. I feel these are timeless looks.”

2. Feathered handbag/fascinator combo. “Fabulous for the red carpet, cocktail party or wedding. With the combo, the feather accessory can either be pinned on your dress or bag, or worn in your hair for that finished, put-together, one-of-a-kind look. It’s really a conversation piece!”

3. Custom Converse kicks. “A perfect addition to a suit jacket and an ICJUK T-shirt and jeans.”

4. Beach dress. “These original designs are built to be worn a number of ways, either as a pool cover-up or in the evening paired with shorts or jeans. They glamorize an outfit very quickly and are incredibly versatile.”

I make my way into the second room, agape at the gorgeous display of handmade couture bags and matching fascinators (head pieces). Rihanna would wear the heck out of these.

“I love classic shapes,” the designer says. “The vintage handbags I find and up-cycle are from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s ... very sturdy and in amazing condition, even though some are 50-plus years old. These bags are blank canvases for me, on which I create never-ending art and designs.”

Vranian adds jewelry and embellishments from all over the world, some of which date back as early as the 1920s. Each piece uses strictly cruelty-free feathers. The result is a bag that’s long-lasting and one-of-a-kind.

Then, I see the T-shirt wall. Vranian puts her personal story into every piece. “This work isn’t mass-produced,” she says. “Don’t get me wrong, though, they can be — if I get picked up by a big retailer.”

As any Brit in Las Vegas would say, “That’s ace.”

Talking shop with Claire Jane Vranian

You consider yourself primarily an artist, not a designer. How has your background influenced you?

My mum says I was creating out of whatever she gave me when I was young. I have a photo of myself talking on a Play-Doh phone I made ... probably a sign that I would become a businesswoman. I do use a lot of skulls, probably because I come from the film industry and worked on so many horror movies. But to me, the human body isn’t scary; both of my parents were in the medical field, and I think skulls are very beautiful. We all have them.”

Feathers, Swarovski and long-lashed ladies — each collection speaks to Las Vegas style. Were you inspired by the heritage of the city?

I love the vibe and energy of this city, and the glamor of vintage photographs when everyone used to dress up here. My use of feathers is fabulously flamboyant. Go big or go home. Growing up in the U.K., I was influenced by the historic sites of Europe, such as the Palace of Versailles and Hampton Court. Such lavish, textured fabrics, beautiful architecture and spectacular chandeliers. Imagine Marie Antoinette wandering though the halls with her big powdered wig and extravagant dresses.”

Las Vegas is the ideal location for Ocean Anarchy. Did our culture inspire these designs?

Ocean Anarchy is edgy, fun and a bit cheeky, with graphics of skulls and surfboards, the Poseidon Twins and their Yin and Yang cousins, flowers, stripper poles, pitchforks, the Union Jack flag, angel wings, devil horns and feathers. Vegas influenced? Oh, yes. Sin City all the way.

Your rock ’n’ roll T-shirts are filled with symbolism. Every design has a story. Which are your favorites?

I think one of my first pieces was the Union Jane — the USA and British flags set in women’s faces, which to me represents my dual citizenship and all the strong women I have met since I’ve been here in the USA. My Musicfest design is another one I love. It was featured on frontman Joe Elliott, in the Def Leppard “Viva! Hysteria” DVD when the band had a residency here in 2013. It was inspired by the old ’60s Fillmore music festival posters, full of vibrant colors and fantastic art. And Flaire! Who I have been drawing since I was 12. She has Union Jack lips and stories she’ll never tell behind long, flowing, feathered eyelashes. I think she could have her own animated series; she’s kind of a superhero, as she does have a cape, too.

Which celebrity would you most like to see wearing your work?

Taylor Swift would rock the handbags and fascinators on a red carpet. Locally, I’d love to get a handbag to Britney. Country fans and artists would also love my T-shirts, so it would be great to get Florida Georgia Line in them.

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