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Charlotte Carbone, a Ryerson School of Fashion graduate has just become $10,000 richer thanks to the TV show Stitched.
Stitched, which airs on Slice, is a fashion competition series. Each 45-minute episode features four fashion designers who square off in three design challenges. The last designer standing wins the episode and a cash prize. Carbone won the season premiere, when her red superhero design was chosen over her competitor. The episode aired on Sept. 9.
Take a look at the revealing scene below.
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“Those reactions are 100 per cent real. I just remember staring over my shoulder and I was just like, ‘Are we going to see black and white? Are we going to see red?’ My heart was pounding,” said Carbone about her winning moment.
Carbone graduated from Ryerson’s fashion design program in the spring of 2018. She credits the program for providing her with a strong dedication to work, as well as the ability to multitask.
“It definitely taught me a really important work ethic in terms of fashion,” she said.
But what perhaps shaped Carbone’s work the most are her own personal experiences. Carbone was born in Nanchang, China, a farming city located in southern China. She was adopted by a Canadian family when she was one year old. She said that growing up in a white family made her feel like she didn’t have a sense of self. In the beginning of her episode, Carbone explained to the audience that she found herself through Asian street-style clothing.
“I had to do all this work to understand my culture from an outsider perspective. I had to do my homework,” she said.
What Carbone means by homework is more than just looking at clothes – it’s about having firsthand experiences, whether that be joining her Asian friends for a family dinner or celebrating a Chinese New Year celebration. Carbone values these lived experiences and sees them as inspiration for her work.
“That’s one area that I really take inspiration from – my Asian heritage, and exploring that to really give it the authentic root and not doing it cheaply,” Carbone said.
She also credits what her life is like today, and what would have happened if she was not adopted. Carbone is legally blind due to congenital cataracts, and doubts she would have been a designer if she was living in Nanchang. While fashion may not be nature versus nurture, she said she believes if she had not been adopted, she would have gone completely blind.
It’s these experiences and reflections that allow for Carbone’s designs to stand out from the crowd. Although she describes her work as “bold, quirky and funky,” they go beyond aesthetic. As a designer who pushes for body positivity and gender inclusivity, Carbone’s work stands out amongst the boring norms and exclusive practices of the fashion world.
Carbone said she prides herself in not fitting in with mainstream fashion because her work comes from a place of honesty and authenticity.
“My motives are very different than mainstream companies right now,” she said.
When people see her designs, she wants to tell them a story. She wants them to “really look at it to figure out what it means – something to provoke thought, something to provoke dialogue.”
And in turn, the authenticity behind her designs is what led to her success at Stitched.
“[It’s] part of the reason why I won – because the judges seem to really connect with the message behind my work,” she said.
It wasn’t so much about the colours or materials that she used, it was the meaning behind them.
As for the cash prize? Carbone said that she will be depositing it in a tax-free savings account.