Why this up-and-coming fashion designer moved from NYC back to Charlotte – Charlotte Five

Take one step into 27-year-previous fashion and textile designer Victoria Strayhorn’s dwelling studio and also you’ll get office envy. Mild streams in by skylights and spills throughout a spacious desk and desk bordered by inspiration boards and sketches, then spills farther throughout a plump sofa and racks of clothes reduce into high-fashion kind.

Strayhorn simply competed in Charleston Fashion Week final week, one in every of 16 rising designers chosen from 600 candidates. She has a bachelor’s diploma in fashion design from Savannah Faculty of Artwork and Design and has labored with fashion corporations ranging from Ralph Lauren, to LF USA, to Calvin Klein. Not to point out a historical past of working insane hours.

Victoria Strayhorn

So why did she transfer back to Charlotte at age 25 to begin her personal small enterprise, Victoria Cullinan?

“I believe I wanted a extra sustainable life-style,” Strayhorn mentioned. “I imply New York is great, and it's nice for a inventive thoughts, however I additionally simply wanted an area to breathe and discover once more. As a result of it may be just a little overstimulating and Charlotte simply created a secure area for me to settle down, calm down.”

It helps that Strayhorn is a Charlotte native, and he or she was ready to slip back into her dad and mom’ family — in the meanwhile. Her studio is above her dad and mom’ storage (it has lived different lives as a playroom, dance room and exercise room) and is stuffed with the contents of her former Brooklyn house.

It is a good area to be. Charlotte is the place her love for fashion was born.

“My mother at all times challenged me within the arts,” Strayhorn mentioned. “She at all times knew I needed to be a working artist.”

She used to get inventive together with her ballet costumes.

“I'd take them aside and put them back collectively and make all these new concepts,” Strayhorn mentioned.

At SCAD, she studied fibers and textile design, studying how to create the material as effectively a the garment.

“So as to create what you actually envision, you form of have to begin from the bottom up,” she mentioned.

Together with her feminine-targeted model, Victoria Cullinan (Cullinan is her South African household title), she needs ladies who put on her garments to really feel empowered, lovely and assured. The model began with a give attention to customized garments and customized couture for particular occasions, tapping into a distinct segment market.

“I need you to really feel that you're precisely who you’re meant to be,” mentioned Strayhorn, who operates as a one-lady present.

Her imaginative and prescient for the eight fall assortment seems she offered throughout Charleston Fashion Week final Thursday was impressed by a tough stretch in her life, coupled together with her admiration for kintsugi, the Japanese artwork kind during which damaged items of pottery are glued back along with a resin and a gold mud.

“I like the philosophy of taking one thing that’s damaged and making it complete, and in addition including extra worth to it,” Strayhorn mentioned. “I felt like my garments would give you the chance to relate to others in that sense.”

Her angle-heavy, pieced-collectively fall seems communicate to her love for pure fibers, too, that includes silks, wools and a give attention to sustainable fashion.

To maintain her enterprise, Strayhorn additionally juggles freelance technical work, largely targeted on athleisure, for different corporations in Charlotte and Atlanta.

She’s unsure how lengthy she’ll stick across the Charlotte fashion scene, which is rather a lot smaller than New York’s. However she sees a whole lot of change taking place right here.

“Persons are coming right here, transferring right here, and they're searching for fashion and they're searching for excessive fashion,” she mentioned.

No matter the place she finally ends up, Strayhorn has one different imaginative and prescient: Utilizing her work to join individuals nationwide, even worldwide. She goals of discovering methods to work with artisans in different elements of the world, from weavers in India to beadworkers in Uganda.

“The model that I would love to set up is one thing that creates ripples inside the neighborhood of girls,” she mentioned. “Fashion could make such a optimistic influence, together with those who want work, or need to work, or need to create.”

Pictures: Johnathon Baillet, Rockie Nolan

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