A born-and-bred New Yorker, Indagare member and designer Carolyn Rowan draws as much inspiration for her elegant accessories line, Carolyn Rowan Accessories, from her global travels with her family as she does from her experience in the fashion industry. The Fashion Institute of Technology alum and former stylist shares some of her most memorable trips, her favorite shopping city and the items she never travels without.
You've traveled all around the world; what are the best trips you've gone on with your family? Travel is a source of quality time for my family and it also incorporates our appreciation of learning about different cultures. Our favorite trips are usually to places that are steeped in history and, as a designer, I particularly love seeing ancient cities. In addition to having unique architectural landscapes, places with a long history, like Turkey and Morocco, have rich artisan traditions that have been passed town for generations. This influences how I appreciate art and design.
What are some of your most memorable experiences on Indagare trips? Indagare tailors all of our trips to our specific needs and interests and has also shown us that having a well-informed guide makes all the difference. We recently went on a family trip to India, where we learned and ate all day. Between the amazing history, food and markets—it was dizzying! We were overwhelmed by the country’s beauty and history. Our India trip was doubly special because a lot of the embroidery for Carolyn Rowan Accessories is done by artists in India.
In the mid-2000s, I worked as a consultant for Judith Leiber and I was fortunate to meet some of the best artisans in the art and design industries. When I launched my own line in 2013, I knew exactly who I wanted to work with. The artisans I’d connected with at Leiber were hugely inspiration and my appreciation of their craftsmanship only grew with time. I brought them on and launched Carolyn Rowan Accessories to provide perfect pieces for the modern woman.
Do you ever draw inspiration for your work from your travels? Travel inspires both my professional and personal lives. When traveling, my favorite way to relax is to wander through the smaller streets and markets to see local shops. As shopping has moved to computers and phones, I find that there's no more rewarding feeling than "finding" stores and discovering things you can’t get anywhere else. I also love coming home with something that reminds me of my trip. In Morocco, I bought caftans; in India, I purchased lots of shawls and blankets. In Israel and Turkey, I’m often drawn to evil eye ornaments; I even created my own version using Swarovski® crystals for some of our smaller accessories.
What are some of your favorite destinations for shopping? London is my favorite for shopping. I used to live there, so I have places I like to return to, but there is also always something new there, whether it’s an up-and-coming neighborhood or just-opened concept store.
What items do you never travel without? I always bring eye cream, sunscreen, an adapter, sneakers and a Carolyn Rowan Accessories shawl that can easily transition from day to evening. A book and a real camera (to get me off my phone!) are also necessities.
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