September 16, 2014

Carmen Lilly the #NCSUAlum

Via @StyleCarmen Instagram 
North Carolina State University is a campus most commonly recognized for producing cows and engineers (we've got world renown agriculture and engineering programs). Though its obviously not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks N.C. State, the Wolfpack is home to some fashionistas with impeccable home grown style. As an alumnus of the university this isn't something that I just realized but, last night did seem to make the fact more clear. You see, I searched the hashtag #NCSUAlum and found a post from Carmen Lilly, the creative genius behind many of Rihanna and Rocsi Diaz's looks. Intrigued, I clicked on it (a post from the  Harbison SS15 showcase) and learned that not only was Charles Elliot Harbison a NCSU alum but, so too was Carmen Lilly. I've adored her styling for so long, yet I had no idea that she was a fellow Wolfpack sistah! 

That's what you call #CRAY. 

In an interview with the Fashion Bomb Daily, Lilly described how she launched her personal shopping/ styling career saying," When I left college, I was making jewelry, but I was doing it on the side. I wanted to get experience from the retail end, so that I could get my jewelry in stores..." She began working at Intermix, a boutique in New York City and it was there that she met Rihanna and the rest-- well, its history. She told FBD, "Rihanna would have all these high end designer pieces,but she wouldn't have anything to complete the outfits. So, I would get them for her, but I would also put together looks and give outfit suggestions." Lilly's work with Rihanna eventually led to other celebrity clients.

Rihanna in Balmain Leather Skirt and Silk Blouse picked by Carmen Lilly. 
Rocsi Diaz at the 86th Academy Awards styled by Carmen Lilly in a Dennis Basso gown and Jimmy Choo Sandals.
Rihanna in Tom Ford Gladiator Boots and Mary Katrantzou top picked by Carmen Lilly. 
Rocsi styled by Carmen Lilly in Haute Hippie Tuxedo Dress and Christian Louboutin 
Impera Pumps 

Carmen graduated from NCSU with a degree in Art and Design. She spent time as an intern for Donna Karan as well as another smaller scale designer. Though many people  recognize her now for the work she has done with celebrity clients, I admire the advice she gave to those aspiring to break into the highly competitive fashion world. "Gain as much industry knowledge as possible, so you will be better equipped to compete with those who have a natural network and connection within the industry. Do your research...don't focus on celebrities- focus on your craft." 

It's incredibly encouraging and inspiring to see young {black} people from my Alma Mater doing big things in the fashion industry. Carmen Lilly and Charles Elliot Harbison are both living proof that 1)It doesn't matter where you get your start, if you've got the drive and are smart you can achieve anything and 2) N.C. State grooms some of the best talent in every field! 

For more information about Carmen Lilly check out her website  or connect with her on Instagram and Twitter

Go Pack!