Alumna to showcase collection at February New York Fashion WeekBy Ellen Johnson | 01/17/2018 9:46pm
By Ellen Johnson | Culture Editor
Caroline Ruder's designs are bold: yellow midi dresses studded with sparkly flares, sweeping black gowns with scale-like appliqués, color-blocked capes. Just a few years ago, the UA graduate was creating custom wear for friends and sorority sisters–a quirky garment for an artsy friend, or a paneled dress for a pal. Now, she's a graduate student at Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta and is the head of a full-fledged brand, Caroline Ann Designs.
Ruder, whose story was reported by The Crimson White last August in anticipation of her collection's appearance at Vancouver Fashion Week in September, has not slowed down a bit since obtaining her UA degree in 2016. Photos of her clothes appeared on the British Vogue website following Vancouver week, and now Caroline Ann Designs will appear in the February, March and April issues of the magazine. But perhaps her most exciting news yet, Caroline's designs will drape models as they strut the runway at New York Fashion Week this year.
"I taught myself how to sew during my time at UA less than four years ago and I never imagined all of this would happen so fast," Ruder said. "I actually found out that I had been invited to show at NYFW while we were watching the National Championship game, so between winning the game and getting invited to fashion week, it was probably one of the craziest nights of my life."
Ruder has quickly climbed through the ranks, especially considering her mid-college career transition from business to fashion. She's now in her second year at SCAD and says she's never enjoyed life more.
"After all of that, if you had told me that I would be invited to New York Fashion Week, I would've never believed you," Ruder said. "I expected it to be years before my work got any significant attention. I feel really grateful and humbled that these big opportunities have come my way in such little time."
New York Fashion Week happens semiannually: in both February and September. During the event, designers showcase their collections to buyers and the press, as well as the general public. This New York Fashion Week commences on Feb. 8 and ends on Feb. 16, and, for Ruder, it opens the door to infinite possibilities.
"[It's] one of the largest fashion weeks in the world in terms of exposure, but I honestly don't know what will happen on the other side of the show," Ruder said. "I really believe that anything is possible. I have started to look ahead at the possibility of having to fill orders for my collection since there will be buyers at the show, but again, we will just wait and see."
For many followers of the fashion world, making it to New York for fashion week is a landmark of recognition and accreditation.
"Anyone can have their own fashion show during fashion week, but to be invited to be in New York Fashion Week is to be recognized as an emerging designer," said Je'Anna Parnell, a junior majoring in fashion retail.
Ruder's show will take place on Feb. 8 at Industria NYC, with the Global Fashion Collective, which is presented by Vancouver Fashion Week.
You can see more of Ruder's designs and story at her website, www.carolineanndesigns.com, or her Instagram, @carolineanndesigns.