INTERVIEW: Carrie Parry Designs for the Circus and Mother Earth

Apr 12, 2011 - by Jessica Lapidos

Carrie Parry has had a wild ride of a career, everywhere from learning hand-work techniques from Jonathan Saunders to the entertaining children in a frog suit at the Gifford Circus. Having studied at Central St. Martins, her passion throughout has been design, and now she's fueled by her resolve to design sustainably. See what Carrie Parry has to say to Fashion Indie about eco and social responsibility, and what it's like to be part of a traveling circus. And meet her at the Carrie Parry Trunk Show April 14th - 17th at Bloomingdale's Soho!

Who is the Carrie Parry woman?

Id say someone thats confident and really wants to wear something that they love and also feel proud of it and where its coming from. Someone that goes for classics but also likes a little bit of whimsy in their wardrobe. Something they can really play with and make their own.

You worked for a number of really excellent designers. Were there any that particularly influenced your designs?

Jonathan Saunders. He taught me how to print. We used to all the silk-screening by hand. Hes amazing and an extremely talented designer. I learned how to print there and from that I started teaching printing at a studio in London, and I think that really inspires the textiles that I do.

Whats the aesthetic for next Spring?

Next season Im looking at bringing in more color and some casual pieces. Id say my circus influence is always going to come through, especially in the spring with the sun and everything. Thats the direction its going to be going in in, but also keeping with the sophistication and wearability, of course.

Circus? What was the circus like??

It was amazing. I was there for two years, two seasons. It was the Gifford Circus in England. It toured the Cotswold, which is the English countryside. I did the costumes, and I also maintained the costumes throughout the season, so it was a lot of work, but it was an experience that Im so happy I had.

What was the craziest piece you designed for the circus?

Oh, [laughs], a foam cockerel. It was a piece that someone stepped into to become a cockerel bird. It was pretty intense. I dressed up as a frog there as well. I had lots of hats at the circus; I did the costumes, but we also had a travelling organic restaurant that my husband actually ran, and I was a dishwasher there in the evening. I dressed up as a frog before the shows to entertain the kids. So it was a fascinating experience. And I often think about going back there for a season.

How did you ever get into the circus?

At Central St. Martins I took a year out to get some experience. And Id always been fascinated with the circus; I did gymnastics and dance, and Ive kind of always wanted to be a performer in the circus. Thats not where my path led me. So my professor at St. Martins told me of this great circus where shes from. I went down and helped with the horses for a while then got hired to help with the costumes. But being from L.A., I had never been in a field or lived in a caravan. It was just such a different type of experience that I really loved.

At Central Saint Martins, was there any focus on sustainability and social responsibility?

Unfortunately not when I graduated in 2006. Now, however, the University of the Arts, London College of Fashion and St. Martins are really ahead on teaching sustainability throughout schools, but I just missed it.

When did sustainability become important to you?

I moved out to NY and was working at an accessory design company and witnessed firsthand the environmental impact that the industry had. So we were starting to build in a socially responsible handbag line. I started doing the sourcing of the materials for it, and got really obsessed, and decided that I couldnt work in design under [not sustainable] circumstances. So I went to work for Earth Pledge and built their textile library, and signed up for classes at the University of Delaware in their Socially Responsible Business graduate program. And then I was working with designers helping them to source their fabrics at Earth Pledge and decided that I could combine my background in fashion, and my passion and drive to promote sustainability.

On a serious note, how many times in a day does someone Freudian slip you a Katy Perry?

My married name is Carrie Parry. I met my husband at the circus. Everyone made fun of me. When I was trying to figure out what to name the line, it was right there: Carrie Parry.

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