Caroline Baker, one of Style Syllabus’ favorite Charleston, South Carolina designers (and our first Trunk Show feature … who you can still shop here), is an eco-conscious designer with her mind on vintage flair. Caroline re purposes old dresses, fabrics and silhouettes to make them modern and in keeping with the trends of our time as well as designing her own eco-collections of wedding, cocktail and day dresses. However, with her clever eye, she never loses the relationship she has with the piece or the meaning of the garment.
Here she tells us how through her own looks.
Cami + High Waist = Perfect: Here I’m wearing a layered white tank with a cotton lace doily made by my grandmother, Maude (the namesake of my company). This is one of kind from my REmaudeALL line, a vintage textile up-cycling project. The skirt is my go-to made from hemp and organic cotton from my Maude Couture collection. Then the earrings are creations from my Mother-in-Law, Carole Carr Tinkey. She is a local jeweler who uses old barn roofs and other materials from which she hand-cuts shapes and mixes with semi-precious stones and metals. These are private order only, but can be ordered by calling 843.884.0033.
Simple is Chic: My coral tank is from Tahari, and the skirt is an upcycled shirt of gold cotton made in my REmaudeALL collection. I paired this with my favorite Kenneth Cole leather cut-out wedges and handmade gold filigree and agate earrings by Jess Ann Jewels. I fell in love with this local jeweler when I saw her amethyst and topaz “fishing lure” earrings, and now I am obsessed with her new gallery collection. She sells in many South Carolina and North Carolina boutiques. In Charleston you can find her at Seeking Indigo and Cloud 9 Therapy Spa. However, if you’re outside of Charleston, you can find her on her website.
Nautical Civility: My dress is a hemp and organic cotton dolman dress from my Maude Couture collection.. The earrings are handmade, upcycled metal and sea pearl earrings by Carole Carr Tinkey; I love how her reLeaf line is so industrial and luxurious at the same time.She designed the leaf earrings for my 2008 Charleston Fashion Week Show and debuted this funky collection with mine at the 2012 Charleston Eco Fashion Event. It was a sensational family project of which I am very proud. Now, I got these striped wedges at Paylessthis spring when I went to buy platform stilettos to go under a wedding gown for a show.They remind me of these vintage shoes that I have cherished, resoled and restrapped many times; but since they aren’t precious to me I can wear them poolside without worry.
Retro: I made this happy little day dress from my great, great aunt’s vintage tablecloth.It was too loved to use as a table cloth anymore so I cut around the holes and stains to create this dress the night before Katie Kern (of Circa PR) and I went to speak to the Porter Gaud’s Girls Conferencing about living an “eco-chic” life.I wanted to make an example of how fun upcycling can be, especially if you do not take yourself too seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I love clothing, but I am not someone who worships fashion.I think fashion should provoke wonderful emotion, but you have to keep a sense of humor and ease. This dress is literally made for fun. The earrings are, again, handmade, upcycled metal and sea pearl earrings by Carole Carr Tinkey, and then there are my cheap Payless shoes! I’m caught here at Pitt Street Pharmacy, my childrens’ favorite spot to have a pool break with some grilled cheeses and jelly beans.
Simple Charleston Summer Dress: This dress was my mothers, and I wonder if she still misses it.When I was fifteen, I hemmed it to its current length and I have been wearing it now for almost twenty years.I love it! I love the tuxedo pintucks and buttons, the vintage cut, but, of course, mostly I love the cotton lace pockets.I am obsessed with clever pockets and these are just the best pockets on earth as far as I am concerned.I think about the technology from the 60’s and I just marvel at how these pockets must have been made.My grandmother had impeccable taste and I have many vintage treasures that she bought for my mother and herself.Some pieces are just part of who you are and this dress has been with me all over Europe, California, New York and the Southeast. It is like an old friend to me. The shoes are a new friend, made by Reef with recycled beads, handmade by a village in Africa, and they make me feel loved because my husband gave them to me and it shows how well he knows me.My godmother gave me the peacock bracelet so I love it for every possible reason also. The earrings are gold and sapphire by Dee Ruel. I love her paper and her jewels.
Genuine panache is only acquired when one takes these snapshots and adapts them for what we often call “real life.” Thus they perpetuate the magnificence of good style – good style that leaves us rapt with intrigue and hope. Hope generates dreams, and dreams lead to the continuation of style – in whatever form it may be. This is the essence of style.