A yr ago, Chloe Ayissi-Etoh didn’t know how to sew. But this spring, in a college auditorium packed with additional than 900 persons, the teen soaked in thunderous applause as a bona fide vogue designer.
In a purple gown she’d completed perfecting just minutes earlier, Chloe followed products who’d walked the phase at Walter Johnson Superior Faculty in Bethesda in 9 seems from her 1st collection, beneath her brand chlolanà—a blend of her initially title and middle name, Alana.
For Chloe, an eighth grader at the time, the manner clearly show was a key accomplishment. What built it even extra outstanding was that she’d had just four months to style, sew and suit the dresses, trousers, shirts and corsets she’d sketched for many overall body kinds. The present was held in the course of a retreat for the Minority Scholars Software, a group led by Montgomery County General public Schools pupils which is functioning to close the achievement gap.
“I did not have time to even sleep—I got among two and four hrs a evening,” claims Chloe, 14, who lives in North Potomac and attended Robert Frost Middle College in Rockville. “It was pretty frantic, but if I’m established on something, I’m going to do it regardless of what any person says and no issue how crazy it sounds.”
The fashion present was so well acquired that it acquired an encore performance two months later as section of Robert Frost’s 50th anniversary celebration. Robert Frost science instructor Sunila Varghese, who co-sponsors the school’s chapter of the Minority Students Program and has identified Chloe for two many years, notes that the teen managed two assistants and two make-up artists in the course of the present, and also choreographed walks for the designs, all fellow classmates.
“You could hear a gasp when the [audience] listened to she was 14. My heart was just entire,” Varghese states. “She’s a quite bright and talented lady, and whatever she does, she’s a rock star at it.”
Chloe, a soaring ninth grader at Wootton Higher College in Rockville, describes her aesthetic as generally monochrome with a pop of color—“a mixture of streetwear and stylish.” She attracts inspiration from vogue brand names such as London designer House of CB, recognised for its determine-hugging parts.
Chloe turned intrigued in style in June 2021 soon after obtaining into thrift-retail outlet buying and viewing TikTok video clips about upcycling dresses. She quickly commenced getting stitching lessons from an aunt. A great number of hours on YouTube adopted as she soaked up stitching and trend terminology.
At the time faculty started off that fall, Chloe states, she no for a longer period desired to wear sweats and hoodies to class. She speedily grew to become known for her very own patterns, even earning a “Best Dressed” award from fellow eighth graders in a scholar survey. “For some cause, I just turned a fashionista,” she suggests. “I would go into my closet, search at some clothing, put alongside one another an outfit, and it would transform out astounding.”
Just mainly because she’s no extended carrying sweats and hoodies in the hallways does not signify Chloe never ever dresses down. But even then, she says, she places a spin on her look. “Honestly, it is dependent on my temper,” she states. “If I come to feel additional that working day, I’ll build a definitely added outfit for that working day at school—maybe spice factors up with some significant-waisted flare trousers and [a] turtleneck with an beneath-bust corset.”
Describing the approach of deconstructing a garment as “beautiful,” Chloe before this year took out a zipper and ripped up the seams of a pair of stretchy pink shorts she bought for $2 at a thrift retail store. She then additional interfacing and produced an beneath-bust corset she often wears to college about a white costume shirt. “My mom doesn’t like that I have these types of a big obsession with corsets,” she admits.
Her mother, Katrina, 45, states she endures regular style suggestions from Chloe, her only daughter amid 4 small children. “She does check with if she can model and costume me, but I inform her, ‘No, get out of my closet. I’m fine,’ ” Katrina says. “But maybe this summer time I’ll check with her to make me a shirt.”
Chloe strategies to turn out to be a designer with her own line of center- to substantial-stop completely ready-to-dress in clothes. She says she finds inspiration everywhere and recollects when devising a colour-blocked streetwear look from a ladder propped from a wall in French course. She is changing a basement storage room at her property into a stitching studio with light pink walls, white tables, heaps of green plants, and a signal bearing her manufacturer identify.
Katrina, in the meantime, is seeking to reconcile that the daughter she has noticed hop from one interest to the next—though Chloe still loves to bake and cook—now appears committed to a upcoming in manner. “The Lord must do the job in mysterious means,” she says. “Never did I see this one coming. … She enjoys what she does, and you can not invest in that.”