Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Exceptional People: Paul Carroll
"Zest is the secret of all beauty. There is no beauty that is attractive without zest."
Very often, the zest about which Dior spoke, is sacrificed, sliced and shorn, on an altar of utilitarianism, and from those deep cuts, beauty bleeds itself into a pallid, but serviceable ghost. In my years of research in the arts and humanities throughout the ages, I've found that the artists who often best understand the fuel of zest are those who work in fashion. Clothing is utilitarian, fashion is art. And, frankly, in this pajamas-all-day culture, we need all the art we can get.
The idea of fashion means many things to many people. For some, it's a scarecrow of a model, galloping down a runway in a garment so affected as to be utterly unwearable in life. Yet, to the finest designers, fashion can and does equate to wearable art for all. And, this leads us to Paul Carroll, this week's "Exceptional Person."
The founder of Paul Carroll NY, Mr. Carroll designs for real women, women who are more than walking mannequins, women with lives, loves and responsibilities--not just walking hangers. Mr. Carroll's innate mastery of shape, color and texture allows him to create both couture and high-end ready-to-wear designs which enhance a woman's lifestyle and show the world her sensibilities and inherent elegance.
The dance of sequins in the light, the sheen of silk against jersey, the fluidity of a line, softness contrasted against sharp planes, comfort, opulence, timelessness with a playful eye to the flavor of the week. This is Paul Carroll. This is art. Art in motion.
If the name sounds familiar, you may have heard of Mr. Carroll in association with a favorite television program or cause. You've seen his work on CBS' Guiding Light and Another World. His delicate designs have graced the lovely Susan Lucci and other stars through a long association with All My Children, formerly of ABC Daytime, and soon to be resurrected online. You will, no doubt, have noticed Mr. Carroll's creations on red carpets. His masterworks have promoted the "Go Red" movement to raise awareness of women's heart health. Fabrications, threads, beads and sequins combine in a most brilliant dance--a celebration of a woman's life.
With two collections a year from his fashion house since 2000, Mr. Carroll's wares have graced some of the most famous and beautiful women in the world. You know his work. You've admired it. But, first, you admired the woman wearing the gown.
You see, Paul Carroll doesn't force the woman into the dress, he makes the dress for the woman. Fashion isn't the master, art is. And, like all art, Mr. Carroll's designs seek to enhance the beauty of nature, to frame what is real. He doesn't force the woman into the style; he creates the style around the woman. With the same sensibility of a painter or a sculptor, Carroll employs his media to create something greater than reality without betraying that reality.
Carroll describes his product as "uniquely American," and counts the sheer glamour of classic Hollywood among his inspirations. His creations are sexy without being vulgar, elegant without being unwearable, current without being trendy. In short, each garment is unique.
That range of creation can only come from commitment and such commitment can only be born of zest. Dior would be proud.
Learn more about Paul Carroll and view recent collections here.