After Kara Wickman sent her debut Fall/Winter 2011 collection down the StyleWeek Providence runway in January in the ballroom at the Biltmore, she came out from behind the curtain revealing a glowing smile and corset-clad baby bump. Just days after her second son arrived, Kara was behind the sewing machine crafting a second collection inspired by a family trip to Spain, where she soaked up influences from the lifestyle of the Southern Coast. In Malaga, Cartagena and Barcelona most especially, Kara says the local elegance translated into polished pieces focusing on clean lines to flatter the figures of real women. “This was my first time making bathing suits, and I love it,” she exclaims. “I think there is a certain mysterious sexiness in a one-piece suit and I created a few to flaunt a woman’s assets.” When the looks hit the PPAC stage at StyleWeek in August, Kara waited with nervous anticipation for the reaction. “I was fingers crossed backstage as each look stepped on the catwalk,” she admits. With a rousing ovation, her nerves were quickly calmed.
The designer credits ever-growing StyleWeek Providence as a key component in the continued success of her eponymous line. “Without StyleWeek, I wouldn’t have found a platform to be able to show my work,” she notes. Looking for an opportunity to showcase her ultra-feminine designs, she was humbled to be a part of the fashionable event and grateful for the advantages it has offered. “All of the buzz around the week, whether it be interviews with local newspapers, magazines or websites has helped me to promote my brand immensely.”
Already sketching and sourcing fabrics for her Fall/Winter 2012 collection, which Kara predicts will incorporate “rich fabrics and strong silhouettes with feminine qualities,” Kara admits, “This may be my favorite collection to date. I just love fall.” Fueling her creative spirit, she’s working out of a new studio located inside her mother’s business, SeaScapes Salon in Swansea.
The Barrington native also uses her talent to support locally-based worthy causes, including designing exquisite gowns for heart disease survivors benefiting the American Heart Association. More recently she was a part of Stomp Out Domestic Violence, a fashion show benefiting the Women’s Center of Rhode Island. She dressed Erica Caligiuri, a 2011 “Glambassador” for Glamour magazine, for the occasion. (Kara often makes custom pieces for women.)
While it’s easy to get carried away with the thrilling world of fashion, Kara keeps her feet planted firmly on the ground, juggling work, a husband, two sons and an active lifestyle. How does she do it all? “I ask myself the same question,” she laughs. “With a 4 1/2-year-old and an 8-month-old, the days are filled with activities. I try to plan my days ahead of time by carving out time for both boys, designing, the gym – which keeps me sane – and my husband. Oh, and housework too, which sometime falls to the wayside,” she confesses. “If you notice the dust, look away.”