A childhood fantasy became reality when young Claire Prebble found herself creating costumes for Avatar, one-off pieces for Vogue, jewelry for a Kate Moss shoot. And that’s just the start…
It would be a dream – and it is a goal – to design and create costume pieces for Lady Gaga's shows and photo-shoots.
What we love about New Zealander Claire Prebble’s earliest efforts at costume and jewelry design is that the guinea pigs on which she tested them were, quite literally, her pet guinea pigs! The family cats also received the same treatment, along with the more usual recipients of this kind of attention – her dolls. Dressing cats and guinea pigs takes a certain level of, shall we say, determination, given that they are moving targets not known for their compliance, which suggested that this little girl would go far.
With admirably relaxed – or maybe far-sighted – parents, she was allowed to give up conventional schooling at 13 and take an education course tailor-made just for her, involving only what she wanted to learn – jewelry, pottery, drawing, design “and a bit about how do business”! With a mother who taught fabric art, plus the good luck of living in a community of artists who gave her bags of encouragement, she entered New Zealand’s most prestigious art and performance extravaganza, the World of Wearable Art Awards Show, every year from the age of eight until she won the Supreme Award at 18, the youngest winner ever to do so – a record that still stands – with a jewelry entry. In 2005, she took up the offer of an internship in Dubai, followed by a brief stint with Alexander McQueen, and then traveled through Europe before taking a short costume-design course in New York.
But her real ambition through it all was to work at the famous Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand. The thriving local film industry there had been, and still is, involved in the production of many award-winning films made within a 10-mile radius, including King Kong and Lord of the Rings Trilogy. So, when she was offered an opportunity to work there on a project that was coming up, Prebble packed her bags on her 21st birthday and moved to Wellington for a couple of weeks. The project turned out to be working with James Cameron on Avatar, and it ended up lasting two and half years.