Cynthia Rowley

Cynthia Rowley

Born on 29th July 1958, Cynthia Rowley is a fashion designer from New York’s West Village. She is a native of Illinois and is one of the three kids of Clementine and Ed Rowley. Cynthia graduated from Barrington High School in 1976 and then completed her education in 1981 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Soon she launched her business with $3000  in hand given from her grandmother. Since then Cythia developed her eponymous label and as of 1988, the operation expanded into producing eyewear, handbags, shoes, women’s  wear, belts, leggings, cosmetics, hats, fragrance and several miscellaneous items. A decade later, she introduced her menswear line along with a secondary women’s collection which was later discontinued. In 2003, the designer along with her good friend and The New York Times reporter, Illene Rosenzweig, created the Swell line of home accessories. Other collaborations include one with United Airlines in 2009 to design the uniforms of pilots, flight attendants, maintenance workers, ramp servicers and customer service representatives. In 2011, she launched her own eyewear collection, Mr. Powers, named under Bill Powers, her husband. The designer has also partnered with Half Gallery, Roxy, Band-Aid and Target.

Her fashion works were presented twice a year during the New York Fashion Week and shelved at her signature store in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, East Hampton, Boston, Chicago, Charleston, New York and elsewhere. Moreover, the company had its own commercial website and her range is also presented in specialty shops nationwide and internationally.

In 1994, Cynthia Rowley received the Perry Ellis Award by Council of Fashion Designers of America for New Fashion Talent. This honor was given to her after she established her business successfully for twelve years. In addition to this, Cynthia was also nominated for Perry Ellis Award for her menswear design collection.

Observing the success of the designer, Rowley was invited to become the judge of 24 Hour Catwalk, and she was seen on this reality TV program along with other shows like Project Runway, Design Star and America’s Next Top Model. She has been a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America and some others.

Rowley has co-written several books including Home Swell Home (2002), Swell Holiday (2003), The Swell Dressed Party (2005) and Slim: A Fantasy Memoir (2007).

Coming on to the personal side of her life, she married William Keenan, a sculptor and interior designer, in Manhattan at City Hall. Rudolph W. Giuliani, New York city mayor at the time, officiated their wedding ceremony. The couple gave birth to a daughter. After separating from Keenan, Rowley married a writer and gallery owner  Bill Powers in 2005. The event took place at Peter Beard‘s (photographer) home.

Cynthia Rowley is a passionate collector of contemporary art and knows many artists personally. She is highly inspired by art while designing anything. Art has so much to offer to the designer, from emotions to colors. Other inspirations include places, movies, music and family.

The reason that Cynthia became interested in designing was that all her life she has sewn, since she was seven. As she grew up, Cynthia combined her sewing hobby with fine arts. She made whatever was in her mind, isolating herself from all that the world was producing. Cynthia created designs that seemed cool and artistic to her. However, with time she accepted the world around her and started looking at other things for insights.


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