British Designer Carly Ellis mashes up impossibly cool subculture with keep-for-twenty-years anti-trend fashion. Ellis mixes street inspired menswear with proportion play for women, optimistic colors, like neon yellow (“the brightest colour a human eye can see”) and high quality, pay-for-this instead-of-rent type design.
Why sportswear? “It’s never been anything else.”
Ellis graduated from the University of Westminster in 2010. Her graduate collection "BOOM!" was featured by Vogue Italia, Super Super Magazine and The Mail on Sunday, and was shot by photographer Rankin of Dazed & Confused. It received critical acclaim:
“Carly Ellis hit a niche with her evening-inspired sportswear which actually glows under UV light.”—Hilary Alexander, The Telegraph.
Ellis was invited to join Parsons The New School for Design’s MFA in Fashion Design, with Diane von Furstenberg personally sponsoring her education. Her MFA graduate collection was shown during New York Fashion Week, entitled “That Moment Before It All Makes Sense,” and was covered by Style.com, Le Monde Paris, WWD, and The New York Times.
At her MFA show, Ellis was approached by Donna Karan. She became the Outerwear and Sportswear designer at DKNY, dressing musicians like Rita Ora and Iggy Azalea, and collaborating with top model Cara Delevingne on Cara D x DKNY.
“When I look at you, it makes me feel like I have done something good with my life.” – Donna Karan, Ellis’ mentor.
Ellis currently works as the Women’s Apparel designer at Nike Lab in Portland, Oregon. She now has two cats, actual step brothers named Brennan and Dale, and has a Jeep bigger than her New York apartment. She still loves the Nike Air Max 95s that she got when she was 8, and hopes in 2036 someone still has the Nike Lab parka she might make this year.
Bio with thanks to E.P Cutler
"Carly Ellis, of Westminster University, hit a niche with her collection of evening-inspired sportswear"
"Considering Donna Karan hired alum Carly Ellis right after the 2012 show, who knows what kind of attention this impressive presentation will bring."
"Successful sportswear pieces designed by Carly Ellis are inspired by architecture of New York City and South African tribal paintings."
Case in point is Carly Ellis, whose creative process for her thesis led her from streetwear to a documentary on South Africa’s Ndbele tribe to candy on newsstands to pixelated Skype screengrabs. The result, a print-intensive collection of elevated streetwear separates, references each inspiration without resorting to literalism.
The Last Magazine
Carly Ellis, a student from Liverpool, expanded a concept of neon-tinged street style to make it bolder, if possible, with strong-shouldered dresses and what could have been the kind of cape a boxer would wear into the ring, with her name printed on the back.
The New York Times
Carly Ellis, who is 25 and from Liverpool, England; spent hours musing, sketching and fastening necklaces...The 12 pieces in her collection hung from a clothing rack, and the neon-colored rope and plastic made a striking contrast against the room’s oatmeal-colored walls.
The New York Times
Simone S Oliver
Carly Ellis, 24, from Liverpool, England...applied herself enthusiastically to the various projects, to the point that she once found herself nearly arrested.
That was in March of the first year. Ms. Ellis, more than the other students, was inspired by the styles she discovered on the streets, particularly in the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. For one project, in which the students were asked to show how they would sell their designs, Ms. Ellis asked several men she saw there to pose for photographs wearing a neon-printed jacket and holding a sign that said, “Buy Carly Ellis.”
“They weren’t going for it,” Ms. Ellis said. So she printed up a bag of T-shirts and offered one to anyone who would let her take a picture, which worked, “but the next thing I know, I’m lying on the ground with my hands behind my back,” she said. “The police thought I was street hustling.”
The New York Times
Take Carly Ellis for instance, whose collection “That Moment Before It All Makes Sense” embarked on an architectural study of New York. After watching a documentary on the Ndbele tribe of South Africa, she incorporated the geometric designs from their artwork. Two seemingly disjointed ideas woven together like fabric underwent yet another “accidental art form,” as she calls it: screen shots of images still loading. The result is a whirlwind of color that looks modern in crop tops and leggings even Jeremy Scott would envy.
Having talked herself out of that pickle, Ms. Ellis went on to graduate and, to her great relief, has several interviews lined up for respectable work.
Carly Ellis elevates the raw spirit of streetwear to create clothing that is equal parts spunky and slick, exuberant and fashion-forward
Her latest collection, entitled “The Moment Before It All Makes Sense,” a luxe graphic printed mix of sportswear silhouettes imbued with an avant-garde sensibility.
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