Meet Your Maker: Pax Philomena 

Our new “Meet Your Maker” series spotlights the stories behind groundbreaking creators in our community. This installment features local luxury designer Jean Marie Clarke of Pax Philomena.

Taught by the best, Phoenix-based fashion designer Jean Marie Clarke learned the art of tailoring and sewing from her mother. At the age of 7, the Pax Philomena brand founder began designing and making wardrobes out of necessity. As a young U.S. immigrant with British and East Indian roots, Clarke realized a passion for color, fabric, craftsmanship, texture — and the magic that ensues when these elements artfully mingle, resulting in wearable designs.

After studying art history at Princeton, Clarke worked in Italy, mentored by Antonio Ratti, designer and benefactor of the Antonio Ratti Textile Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Honing her design skills under Ratti’s direction in home furnishings and textiles furthered Clarke’s appreciation for Italian and, subsequently, global aesthetics.

Post Europe, the designer returned home to Phoenix and continued working in textiles before launching Pax Philomena seven years ago. With a desire to bring quality products directly to the marketplace and draw attention to the Valley of the Sun as a fashion hub, Clarke’s passion to dress America in color took form. Utilizing her 30-plus years of industry knowledge while paying homage to her international roots led to success and the design of her coveted kaftans. Creating an elegant, size-inclusive product was the foundation for Clarke’s kaftans, which were well-received locally. Sales and interest in Clarke’s designs began growing, leading to coverage in O, the Oprah Magazine in 2018. The designer’s Isadora Maxi was included in a spread featuring flowy looks for an easy, pulled-together look — a big moment for the designer.

Recognizing her beloved original teacher as her source of inspiration, Clarke named her company in honor of her mother, Philomena, and Catholic nun and saint, Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Today, a portion of Pax Philomena’s proceeds are donated to Missionaries of Charity, established by Mother Teresa in 1989. “Mother Teresa said that peace begins with a smile,” Clarke said. “I know that my clothing makes people smile. Hence, we spread peace, or pax, in our own special way.”

Best known for its kaftans, the Pax Philomena brand also includes a men’s line. On the horizon is a jewelry collection featuring precious stones and malas hand-made in India, one-of-a-kind Kashmiri pashminas, and a mix of vintage and contemporary Native American jewelry.

With a growing worldwide client base, Clarke continues to live her passion in color and looks forward to creating products that inspire joy for decades.

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About Zenobia Mertel

Zenobia Mertel is Frontdoors Magazine’s Lifestyle Editor and covers a mix of Arts and Culture topics for the media company. She also works as an on-air host and columnist for Inspired Media 360, focusing on people, places, life and style.
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