Virginia Commonwealth University alumnus Kylie Rose Carroll had a hard time figuring out what a career in the arts would look like. She was passionate and talented, but how could she turn her passion into a viable career?
Her mom asked her, “What, are you going to be a starving artist?”
Between graduating from high school in 2015 and entering college, Carol took a break to work at Nordstrom. Here she realized her love of clothes, especially handbags, could turn into a career in the art and design field.
Carol graduated from the VCU School of Art in Fashion Design + Merchandising in 2021 and is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Fashion Design and Art program at Parsons Paris.
“Fashion can be a very commercial industry, but I’m more interested in the creative side of it. It doesn’t exist much outside the art world,” she said. “That is one of the reasons I love the program I am currently completing at Fashion Design and the Arts at Parsons Paris. In that space in between, that’s where I’m happiest.”
This year, as part of a curriculum brand collaboration project, Parsons fashion graduate students were tasked with reinterpreting styles from the Versace archives. Carol unveiled her own original her design at the Versace headquarters in Milan, Italy, to Donatella her Versace, one of fashion’s most iconic and recognizable names.
What was it like to share her updated Versace designs with a famous fashionista? talked about how it helped
Tell us about the Versace project.
We worked on this project for four months. [It began] Traveling to Italy to visit Versace archives, factories and headquarters, where we [assignment] A brief explanation from Donatella herself. The project concluded with an exhibition at the American Center for Arts and Culture. Six students were selected to take their work to Milan and present it to Donatella.
The brief I received from Donatella Versace and the design team was to design a look inspired by a combination of two archive Versace looks created by Gianni Versace and Donatella. I received looks from the Fall/Winter 1994 collection and his Fall/Winter 2012 collection. What these two have in common is their materiality. These were his two interpretations of the iconic metal his mesh his fabric Gianni allegedly developed.
What was the artistic process for this project like?
From the beginning, I made research for this project a very high priority. [assignment] without a comprehensive understanding of the brand. After extensive research into the brand’s DNA, history, etc., I decided to combine research from ancient Greece. [by studying] Ancient arts, crafts and myths. Inspired by the iconic Richard Avedon photo from the 1994 collection and the way Versace portrays women as goddesses and warriors, I chose the goddess of war, Athena, as my muse when designing the looks.
I also took on this project as an opportunity to learn as many new skills as possible. I love learning and always want to learn wherever I am in my career. As I focused on developing my own materials, I learned the traditional method of assembling chain mail by hand. It took over 90 hours to put together over 5,660 rings to create his chainmail skirt.
It was combined with a 3D printed work derived from a scan of the ancient statue of Pergamum, Athena Parthenos, which was digitally manipulated and modified to create the skirt elements prior to printing. We also tried to master new wet-molded leather techniques for both the bags and bra tops we developed. Accessories are an integral aspect of my practice as a designer, so I really wanted to prioritize accessories for this look.
How was your presentation to Donatella Versace?
Presenting to Donatella has been the most significant honor and surreal experience of my career as a fashion designer so far. A year ago, I never thought I would have the opportunity to collaborate with a brand like Versace. And even at the beginning of the project, I could never have anticipated the unique opportunity to present my work to her and receive her personal feedback.
The whole time I was in front of her explaining a job I couldn’t be more proud of, it felt like a dream. was enthusiastic about it. [student] work. And one of the things that made her react so positively to my work was that I heard her yell “wow” when she walked into the room next to mine.
How would you describe your artistry?
I am a women’s clothing and accessories designer specializing in leatherwork. Women and female bodies inspire me endlessly. I use my work to question and challenge the standards imposed on all types of associations. [also] I tell the story of my own experiences that have shaped my identity as a woman. Incorporating unconventional materials. Much of my work also exists in the space between accessories, clothing and jewellery, between fashion and sculpture.
How did your time at VCUarts help you in your career as a fashion designer?
VCUarts’ Fashion Design + Merchandising division gave us a strong foundation to enter this industry. This was a highly technical program that provided me with a robust skill set and understanding of the core of the industry. I’m a firm believer that you should learn before you break the rules, and I believe the strong technical foundation I learned at VCUarts, which includes a comprehensive understanding of patternmaking, clothing construction, and collection planning, is what makes me possible. Succeed at Parsons Paris. [Also] … I miss Richmond! Paris is the most amazing city I have ever visited, but I often miss Richmond and its unique character.
What are you working on now? what are your future plans?
The second and final year of my MFA is about to begin … The last two semesters will be focused on collecting my senior thesis. [working] As an apprentice to the great leatherworker Robert Mercier, who has produced works by Schiaparelli, Loewe, Balmain, Jean Paul Gaultier and others.
It will be an opportunity to learn from people who have the best technology in the world. Next year, after presenting his graduation collection in May, he hopes to stay in Europe or the UK. I think I can integrate into the industry in Europe, especially in Paris. My dream design company is Schiaparelli and I would like to find a job designing leather goods and accessories.
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