“For the month of September, I will … be experimenting, making garments.”
–Quinan Dalton, N.C. State College of Design senior and fashion designer
by Mimi Montgomery
photograph by Christer Berg
“I’ve been designing things since before I can remember,” says Quinan Dalton. The N.C. State College of Design senior taught herself to sketch fashion designs and sew at 12. Today she sells her designs locally and online, and is working on collections for the school’s Art2Wear Show and Charleston Fashion Week.
Dalton’s drawn to what she calls “childhood fantasy,” designing clothes that are “very dreamy and very nostalgic.” Movies, books, museums, and Pinterest prime her creative canvas. Shape and structure are important to her: Experimental knitwear, which she studied at Central Saint Martins in London, is a favorite medium for experimenting with silhouettes. “You can do such interesting things with it that you can’t do with woven fabrics,” she says. “It’s a more forgiving medium to work in when you’re experimenting.”
An explorative approach has worked well for her. “Ninety percent of the time, the finished garment ends up being very different than what I started out thinking I was going to do,” she says. “You never really know what’s going to happen until you try to make it.”
For her first collection, Kingdom, Dalton conceptualized, sketched out, and sewed eight pieces – a crash course in designing an entire clothing line. “That was an experience, having to do all that,” she says. Last April, Dalton showed that work as part of N.C. State’s Art2Wear fashion show, in which design students are selected by a jury to showcase a clothing collection.
It may have been a challenge, but Dalton has been making her own clothes since she was a student taking sewing apparel classes at Broughton high school. After two years at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, she came back to Raleigh, where her creativity has grown. This September, Dalton is gearing up for her last year of college. On top of classes, she’s readying her application to participate again in Art2Wear, as well as Charleston Fashion Week, a spring show that requires 12 looks in a collection. If her design work is any indication, she’ll handle it all with style.