TEXT, VIVIAN KELLY
About a week ago, I got a non-NYFW related email from “emerging designer” Karelle Levy.
I’ve known Karelle for years, ever since my then-editor at Lucire Magazine asked me to go visit her Miami studio. She picked me up in her Mini-Cooper and I stepped into a wonderland of brightly colored bolts of fabrics – she makes all of her own. What really blew me away was that she works on a loom – yes, a loom, as in what Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on in the fairy tale.
The Email Read:
“It's Karelle from KRELwear.
I flew into town to show my designs at MTV’s SKINS party! What a blast!!
I’m in town for a week....in my Pop-Up Studio on a cobble stoned street in the West Village. I’d love to have you over for tea and show you my stylin' one of a kind KNIT fashions that have been featured on the fabulous Nicki Minaj, at the Scope Art Fair, The Standard Hotel gift shop, and various spots around the world.”
MTV, hmm. Interesting. I hopped into the Volvo and zoomed down the Saw Mill Parkway to finally check-out Karelle’s “Quickie Couture” project for myself, and maybe even to have her make me one.
It was great to catch-up. Krel’s found that “NY is so great for connections.”
These days she seems to be on a travel schedule rivaling ‘Michael Clayton’s’. She’ll be back in NYC in April/May, Miami in March (ongoing popups at the Standard and Lace2 Mani-Pedis in the Portofino towers) and Paris June/July and the Hamptons late summer.
Karelle’s a special designer because she’s managed to fuse her fashion and art sensibilities into a unique formula that works for her. True, she’s STILL “emerging”, but she’s still here, and her fans are still buying.
“True, she says in our chat as she whips me up my wave print vest, it’s a difficult time. It’s been really hard to stay in the game, the boutiques no longer exist, and the ones who remain won't be supporting emerging designers.”
Instead of throwing in the towel, Karelle is acting and using the social media to continue to gain awareness to her work. She’s fashioned a deal with MTV to dress the girls on MTV Skins in some adorable one of a kind dresses that glow in the dark. They really DO – we went into the bathroom, shut the door and the dress lit up like a rainbow when Karelle shone a small black light on it.
Her “Quickie Couture” project is her most successful project to date. Thus far, she’s whipped-up close to 900 of these pieces at pop ups including the big Scope Art Fair where her space was THE #1 booth, and turned into the place to go and hang. That’s just what her vibe is though: arty fashion that’s fun, friendly, and cool.
We talked a good bit about just HOW TO survive and even [gasp, succeed] in this recession/depression. Have a listen to the video to see what Karelle has learned along the way.
As far as the future, Karelle has this to say:
“What were going thru has never been seen, there's no template."
What she’d like to do in the future: “I would love to have a room in a museum where the models are dressed dayglo lurex.”
*Where To Find and Follow Karelle and her Krelwear