Expectant fashion gurus, designers and media lined the stark white runway on Friday evening, awaiting the entrance of the evening’s first runway model at StyleWeek Providence. Among those gathered were Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen, StyleWeek’s “style ambassadors” who gained fame on Bravo’s television series “The Real Housewives of New York.”
But McCord and van Kempen weren’t the main attraction on Friday. Karla Quiroz, a Cranston native and senior at URI, was the reason everyone convened in the Grand Ballroom at the Providence Biltmore.
Quiroz debuted her fashion line, “Froze in Khaos” in a runway show that evening. The models walked the runway in fire and ice inspired dresses that Quiroz conceptualized, designed and constructed.
Quiroz, 21, said she has always been an artist, and the root of her design capabilities comes from her talent for drawing. But it wasn’t until she was 15 that she discovered her passion for fashion.
“I designed my quinceañera dress,” said Quiroz, a Latina who celebrated her 15th birthday with the traditional Latin American celebration of coming into womanhood.
When she was younger, Quiroz’s mother, Minerva, taught her how to sew, a skill she has put to good use. Throughout her teenage years, Quiroz began making dresses and putting on fashion shows at local clubs and at her church.
But she wasn’t expecting to make her StyleWeek debut so soon.
It was a connection she made at URI that led her to the bright lights of StyleWeek. Quiroz, who is earning her Bachelor’s degree in textiles, fashion merchandising and design, goes to school with StyleWeek Providence’s assistant of public relations, Makara Chan. Chan asked Quiroz if she would be interested in showing her line, and Quiroz jumped at the chance.
Quiroz only had a few months to prepare, so in November she began sketching her designs.
“If I didn’t draw my pieces first, by the time I got to the mannequin I would drive myself crazy,” said Quiroz.
She says she draws inspiration from designers like Betsey Johnson and singers like Lady Gaga and Rihanna.
“I would love to design for them one day,” she said.
Quiroz describes her style as “kooky” and “bubbly.”
Her collection’s name is Gorgeous Khaos, which comes from the combination of styles she uses.
“My pieces are gorgeous, but I like creating something you haven’t seen before,” she said.
Before the show, Quiroz said things were slightly chaotic backstage.
“I was so nervous,” she said. “It was a catastrophe.”
But soon, Quiroz remembered how chaos could become something beautiful.
“Let’s have fun,” she said.
Quiroz’s show featured models sporting dramatic designs and accessories like faux snow and red eye shadow. She chose the models through a friend and runway coach.
When the models made their final entrance, Quiroz strutted down the catwalk, waving to the crowd and displaying a sequined skirt of her own design.
Afterwards, fans and media rushed Quiroz. A large group gathered to snap photos of the young designer and her models.
“It was amazing,” she said.
Quiroz has already designed and made 27 pieces. Upon graduating from URI she hopes to travel to Italy or intern in the fashion industry.
Last week, Quiroz wasn’t thinking about the future – she was soaking up the present.
“I love this. I feel so young and hip,” she said. “It’s crazy.”