Carolyn Martin’s Road to the Runway Takes her from Pre-Vet to War Vet, to Chanel

March 4th, 2011 by Wordpress Administrator
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Carolyn Martin

Getting to the runway hasn’t been a point A to point B journey for Carolyn Martin. Actually, she started as pre-veterinary medicine major at The Ohio State University.

Fortunately Carolyn learned a lesson early that many of us come to later in life—find your passion.

“After many sleepless nights and countless hours with my face in a textbook and still no gratification, I decided to put all these efforts (plus a little sweat and blood) into something I was more passionate about,” explained Carolyn.

With some guidance from friends and family, she realized that what had always been a hobby for her, sewing, was also what inspired her.

She transferred majors within OSU, but was soon advised that if she really wanted to dive deep into the design facet of fashion design she needed to transfer to CCAD.

Chanel used refined touches like bias bindings and hand-sewn hems.

But even after starting at CCAD, her path took a turn. To help pay for her education, Carolyn joined the National Guard while still a senior in high school. In the final year of her six-year contract; Carolyn, a human resources sergeant, was transferred to another unit and deployed to Iraq—with two weeks’ notice.

“I went overseas with an aviation unit that flew Blackhawks, probably one of the best deals to score if you are going overseas,” Carolyn shared.

“I was so afraid I would lose my skills and come back feeling lost,” said Carolyn who was out for the entire year in 2009. But instead she came back even more focused, motivated, and with a clear image of what she wanted to accomplish at CCAD. Her collection reflects that tenacity.

Inspired by Coco Chanel, Carolyn has brought to her collection many of the refined, hand finishes that Chanel was so well known for—including quilted jacket linings, bias bindings, and hand-sewn hems. Her lines are clean and neither of her runway looks are dresses—another homage to a designer who crossed gender boundaries with fashion.

Marlene Dietrich modeling a masculine-styled pant suit designed by Coco Chanel, 1933. © AP/Wide World Photos.

While her inspiration is Chanel, Carolyn points out that “Your chosen designer is inspiring you, you are not to replicate or create their collection.”

Carolyn brings her own whimsical touch to her pieces including bold colors and trims. One unexpected favorite touch to her collection is a tassel trim she used.

“I was wary about how the tassels on the shorts would turn out,” Carolyn said. “I didn’t want them to look crafty. But I love how they look. They add a playfulness and touch of humor.”

While the extra touches are playful, Carolyn notes that she also sees a military influence in some of her choices. She also credits her time with the military for enhancing her attention to detail and perfection, a quality that was noted by the fashion show jury.

“I want my designs to be beautiful, not just from the runway, but even down to the linings, hems, button holes, etc. For example I fully lined the pants  because I wanted the interior to be just as well made as the outside—even though no one is going to see the lining from the runway or even know that it’s there, I will know and I will be satisfied.

To see the Chanel-inspired collection up close on May 13, you’ll need to get your tickets—and FYI, ticket prices go up March 15.

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The CCAD Fashion Show is an annual fundraising event that showcases the talent of graduating Columbus College of Art & Design Fashion Design Seniors. This popular event sells out every year and this blog is a portal through which to view the behind-the-scenes goings on.

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2 Responses to “Carolyn Martin’s Road to the Runway Takes her from Pre-Vet to War Vet, to Chanel”

  1. MARY FONDREN says:


  2. Renee' Corna says:

    Keep on rockin’ Carolyn, you are so hot, sizzle, sizzle, sizzle! I’m very proud of you! Seamstresses and designers and military women are faaantastic!!!! I know you will do well!