Jenny Carle learned to sew only six years ago. So it's all the more impressive that the St. Paul designer personally sews every one of her creations, whipping out a dress in about six hours. And these are carefully structured and fitted garments, many with complicated flourishes: multiple ruffles, cutouts, tricky collars.
"When I was 20, I bought a sewing machine and taught myself to sew," Carle said, on a recent visit to Cliché, the Minneapolis boutique that sells her designs.
In the three years since Carle launched her business, armed with a degree in apparel design from St. Catherine University, she has made a name for herself in the Twin Cities fashion scene.
Her dresses are generally short, colorful and flirty -- ladylike 1960s silhouettes updated with cutouts, unexpected fabric combinations and other hip details.
"I like to keep it pretty classic but also somewhat modern; I like a balance," said Carle. Many of her pieces incorporate vintage textiles she finds in thrift stores. Growing up on St. Paul's East Side, Carle collected vintage clothing, including items filched from her mother's closet.
"I think this [was originally] actually a bed skirt, or curtains," she said, holding up a pink and white flowered dress.
Carle's next goal is to learn more about the business side of fashion design. She plans to move to Los Angeles in January, where she hopes to work for a designer and gain experience behind the scenes. But eventually she'll return to Minnesota.
"I love it here," Carle said. "I only want to be gone for a couple of years, at the most."
Three and out with Jenny Carle
- Where do you get your inspiration?
Sometimes it's looking through a magazine and seeing certain silhouettes. Or being out on the street and thinking, "Oh, that skirt looks cute! If I mix it up and add this bodice to it ..."
- Is there a particular celebrity whom you could imagine wearing your designs?
Zooey Deschanel -- she'd be the cover girl for my photo shoot. She has the cutest style, the vintage dresses. Even if they aren't vintage, they're very vintage-inspired.
- Do your designs reflect the way you yourself dress?
They're what I would like to be like. When I dress up, that's the look I'm going for. But most of the time, I'm just wearing jeans and a T-shirt. And I like my boots.