To be one of the first-ever recipients of the New York City Fashion Production Fund is really something, but Polish-born Karolina Zmarlak has earned it. The fund provides loans to emerging designers to help produce their work in the Garment District. The designer – who also received a Gen Art award in college and cut her teeth at Carolina Herrera – turned her independent business, started straight out of her studies into a label that competes with the likes of Stella McCartney.
Karolina raised in Poland before her parents won the green card lottery and they moved to the States. Her heritage is there for all to see in her designs, the European minimalism. The rest of the qualities you can see in her garments come from the loves she found while studying at F.I.T in New York – the fine tailoring, the technicalities, the modernity.
Once she graduated with first class honors, Karolina started an epoynymous ready-to-wear brand with her partner Jesse Keyes, who’s worked in business and architecture. Her clothes speak to modern women. They’re clean cut and simple on the surface, but with a history, a process behind it. Simple doesn’t mean boring. Take the Fall/Winter 2015 collection, where the inspiration was dark Victoriana. We saw night blue mohair coats with pony collars, slick alligator jackets, ethereal white dresses, and details like metal slivers of belts and clever drapes.
Her creations work with the ever-changing female body, but are still accessible and easy to love, easy to wear. We’re not the only ones who think so; the costume team behind The Good Wife have contacted Karolina plus her line is stocked at both Saks and Neiman Marcus