Alumna Profile: Claire Roudabush
When I was freshman in high school, there was a group of funny, dedicated, and passionate senior dancers. None of them had any aspiration of becoming professional dancers. But they loved the comradery. The friendships. The discipline. The leadership. The art.
One of those seniors was Claire Roudabush.
Claire could have the whole room laughing so hard they were practically in tears in just a matter of minutes. She needed dance. Dance was her creative outlet. I reached out to Claire, and was not surprised to learn she is currently living in New York City as a visual designer. After she received her degree in fashion design, Claire packed two suitcases and moved to New York with nothing but an internship and a dream.
"When I graduated and moved to New York it was the peek of the recession. People were losing jobs left and right. Publications and magazines were closing, design firms were shutting down and laying off their entire staff at a time. People (especially in the creative field) were being taken advantage of, working insane hours around the clock for very little pay just to stay relevant and survive," said Roudabush.
Those were the "ramen noodles and canned soup days" as Claire called them.
But no matter how hard it was and how much of a struggle, Claire never lost sight of her goals and what she came to New York to do. Even if that meant sleeping on a friend's couch for a while.
Her first job was as an interior designer at an architecture firm in Soho. After a few years working in the architecture and interior design field for several different firms, her interest started to shift focus into set design. "I found that set design unleashed a lot more doors for imagination," said Roudabush.
So she took a job working as a designer for Barneys New York on their visual team, helping to create their legendary Madison Ave windows.
"Barneys was my gateway to incorporating my love for interiors into the fashion world," she said.
During her time at Barneys, Claire was able to work on collaborations for window projects with influential designers such as Christian Louboutin, Alber Elbaz from Lanvin, and her favorite fashion set designer of all time, Shona Heath.
Claire was also on the design team for a Holiday pop up shop for Lady Gaga at Barneys.
"She showed up looking like little Bow Peep in a custom Chanel dress made just for her to wear to the opening event with platinum hair. She floated about the room commenting on everything and seemed genuinely happy and appreciative."
With Claire's love and passion for creating sets, she started taking on some of her own clients through freelance projects and eventually opened up her own creative studio with a partner.
"After several years of hustling my own projects and working from my studio, I was approached by the creative director of Diane Von Furstenberg (DVF) who stumbled upon my work and offered me a position on her visual design team. The opportunity was too good to pass up!"
Claire is currently a visual designer for DVF designing fashion show presentations and all global and domestic store windows, pop up shops and exhibitions.
Like we often hear from our alumni, dancing at RMSA helped lay the foundation for Claire's success. "It not only instilled personal discipline in working towards goals but challenged my mind and memory to build and imagine sequences and scenarios," said Claire.