Cynthia Rowley was meant to be a fashion designer from the moment she was born. She made her first dress at the tender age of seven, by lying down on a large piece of fabric and cutting around her own outline.
Rowley’s straightforward but effective approach towards fashion led to her eventual success as a designer. She continued making her own clothes while growing up in Illinois. After graduating high school, she was accepted into the Art Institute of Chicago, the alma mater of talents such as Walt Disney and Georgia O’Keefe.
While in her senior year at the Art Institute, Rowley sold her first collection, which consisted of only eight pieces, to various prominent stores around New York. Her feminine and spunky pieces were a hit, and her career began to take off.
Since then, she has appeared on a variety of talk shows, ranging from Oprah to David Letterman. Her designs have been seen in the pages of the likes of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and W, and have been found in boutiques in places as far away as Japan and Hong Kong. The Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded her with the Perry Ellis Award for Womenswear in 1994.
Rowley’s fashion shows reflect her upbeat personality, not only through the clothes on the runway but by the theatrics of the shows themselves. At one point during her career she encased the catwalk under walls of sugar glass, which the models kicked in before walking down the runway. During her Spring/Summer 2008 show, she had the models roll down the runway on bicycles, which are for sale on her website at www.cynthiarowley.com.
Never one to take a break, Rowley is always finding things to keep her busy. She has created her own lines of menswear, accessories, cosmetics and perfumes. In 2004, Rowley teamed up with best friend and style guru Illene Rosenzweig to create Swell, a line of home goods and housewares for Target. Most recently, she has penned Slim: A Fantasy Memoir, a semi-autobiographical tale of her life in Illinois.
Currently, Rowling is balancing her life between being a mother to her two young daughters and continuing to present at New York Fashion Week. Always on the move, she has no intention of slowing down any time soon.