The woman behind Cougar Vintage
A few minutes with Carla McCarthy, and you quickly realize that she not only lives and breathes the latest fashion, but is also passionate about preserving and promoting the power of vintage fashion through her company, Cougar Vintage. Growing up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and now a resident of Miami, she brings the exotic sass of Rio together with the classic vintage fashions so popular throughout US fashion hotspots like Miami, New York and Los Angeles. This dynamic combination results in amazingly stunning fashion fit for today.
Though vintage has been a passion for McCarthy since she was a little girl running around her large old house filled with art deco and antiqued baroque decor, she continues today to seek-out the perfect vintage finds to compliment other vintage fashion, or a modern look straight from this season’s runways. Both at home and on the big screen, she’s been fascinated with the classics. “My inspiration for my vintage collection is based on my beloved fashionistas from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s like my mother, Jackie Onassis, Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Hutton,” says McCarthy.
Much like her passion for classic vintage, McCarthy has also been passionate about design as far back as she can remember. She was sketching designs as a small child, and understood that her life would revolve around the fashion world, some way, or somehow. “Upon receiving my degree at the University Candido Mendes School of Fashion Design, my mom and grandma helped me start my own company. I had a ladies garment manufacturing operation in Brazil, while also balancing a weekly segment on CNT in Rio. Loving every minute of this adventure, I had always known that I would take my love and passion for fashion and live and work in the United States,” says McCarthy.
Arriving in Miami in 2006, McCarthy knew she was “home.” With an unmistakable eye for fashion and her love for the best vintage has to offer, McCarthy is constantly in demand as a stylist, personal shopper and image consultant, including her work with Adriana de Moura of The real Housewife of Miami. Maintaining a constant connection with her other home, she also writes the fashion page for Gazeta, the Brazilian newspaper.
Launching Cougar Vintage was the natural next stage in McCarthy’s life; providing her the platform to further expand her love for everything vintage. It was 2010 that the name just popped into her head, and Cougar Vintage was born. “It was one day that I was thinking about many of the women I adore who wore my favorite fashions in the 60’s and 70’s, and bless many of them for being notorious cougars today. Cougar Vintage just felt right,” says McCarthy. Looking ahead, she plans to continue doing what she loves most by hunting down the most delicious vintage pieces she can discover, and eventually slow down enough to launch her own vintage-inspired clothing line.
Though McCarthy admits that vintage is not yet as fashionable in Brazil as it is in the United States, she is seeing an increased number of Brazilians taking notice either while traveling and experiencing vintage fashion, jewelry and home décor first-hand; watching their favorite movie stars walking the red carpets with hints of vintage fashion; or of course, by the growing number of people reading her own Blog. She certainly sees the demand for vintage to grow exponentially in the coming years, and Carla McCarthy is sure to be in the middle of this fashion movement.
Pulling from her vintage collection, McCarthy continues to impress everyone when working with magazines, personal clients and retailers. “Everything that’s old is truly new again,” says McCarthy. “We’re seeing many vintage-inspired styles on the runways today. Designers like Dolce and Gabbana, Valentino and Prada are showcasing lace, sequins, graphics, fringe, pleats, tea skirts, palazzo pants and more have these amazing vintage looks in their new lines.”
“I love to put together vintage pieces with modern clothes, like a pair of ripped jeans with a tank top and vintage sequin jacket by Oleg Cassini is always a great look, but there are times that a vintage Dior dress needs nothing, as you don’t mess with perfection,” says McCarthy. It certainly takes a unique eye to create these inspiring fashion looks, and Carla McCarthy continues to provide the perfect combination of old and new.
Not just a seasonal trend, vintage is here to stay, and with McCarthy’s growing popularity, the launch of her own vintage-inspired clothing line will surely be a huge success not only in the United States, but also in her other home, Brazil. Though we don’t know when that will happen, it will surely bring together her Brazilian sass with the vintage classics to be both fun and elegant. In closing, McCarthy says, “I believe that my things can transport you back to a more glamorous and hopeful time.”
Damon M. Banks
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