September 1, 2010

Victorialyn McCarthy: A Knack for Fashion

Young Navajo designer Victorialyn McCarthy is in the news again!:

Victorialyn McCarthy: A knack for fashion
By Jacelle Ramon-Sauberan, Today correspondent
Story Published: Aug 30, 2010

Victorialyn McCarthy grew up wanting to be a police officer like her grandfather but is now making her mark as a fashion designer.

“My grandfather always told me stories about catching the bad guys and all the places he got to travel to. I really wanted to have all the same kinds of adventures.”

McCarthy, 21, is Navajo and her family is from Tse Yah Toh, located north of Gallup, N.M. on the Navajo reservation. Her clan is Ta Chi Nii, which means “red running into the water.”

She grew up in Mesa, Ariz., and is the oldest of six children. She has three brothers and two sisters.

McCarthy said her grandfather, Turner Giger worked as a FBI agent for years before meeting her grandmother and becoming a sheriff for McKinley County, located on the border between New Mexico and Arizona. However, when she was a sophomore at Mesa High School her grandfather passed away.

“He had lung cancer and got pneumonia,” McCarthy said. “After he died I had to concentrate on staying home and helping my grandmother rather than going to college out of state at New Orleans Louisiana Catholic University.”

McCarthy attended Mesa Community College and studied police science. While attending school she started sewing in order to pay for her tuition and got her start at an after school job.

“I was working at a dry cleaner and there was a sewing area where a lady did alterations and I thought why not try it since she was making good money.”

McCarthy’s grandmother Nellie taught her how to sew. She said her grandmother studied fashion in college and was a home economics teacher. Growing up McCarthy would sew pow wow outfits, doll clothes, little things for herself and crazy outfits for her 13-year-old sister Miranda Giger.

After working at the dry cleaners for six months McCarthy started doing alterations on her own clothes and other peoples.

“People started asking about my outfits and my weird shoe laces on my shoes at school,” she said. “Then in public more people started asking me so I started networking and hanging up fliers.”

In 2009, McCarthy participated in Scottsdale Fashion in Scottsdale, Ariz., and was a semi-finalist in the Designer of the Year competition. This year she will be participating in Phoenix Fashion Week taking place Oct. 7 – 9 in Phoenix, Ariz.

“Phoenix Fashion Week is a big competition for emerging designer of the year,” McCarthy said. “I am competing against nine other people and the winner gets a $10,000 prize package.”

For competition McCarthy decided to make a whole new collection. She concentrated on using a lot of printed fabrics such as zebra, polka dots and plaid. But the designs are still very much her “aesthetic” but a little bit crazier, she said.

“One of my favorite types of fabric to work with is tulle and I made a wedding dress to end my show in lime green tulle,” McCarthy said. “My Ursula inspired dress is my favorite piece; it’s a floor length dress in zebra print with pleather spikes all over the top and bottom.”

Not only does McCarthy have the Phoenix Fashion Week competition to worry about but she is juggling her Web site, opening her own store, planning her wedding and being a role model.

She said that trying to open a business right now is difficult because companies are closing and other companies want simple designs which hers are not.

“It’s really hard, I have to keep believing in what I do and telling myself that I’m different, my clothing could bring so much happiness and individuality to people all around the world. Everyone I know, my family and friends also keep me going and help support my business, which means everything to me.”

McCarthy said her ultimate goal is to become nationwide and eventually worldwide with her own stores and products in other stores.

For her wedding she is planning on making her own wedding dress, her bridesmaid’s dresses and the flower girl’s dresses.

Her fiancé Alejandro Castaneca, 21, said he has supported McCarthy in every way possible. He has supported her financially, motivating her to create new designs, traveling with her and helping her network with people.

“I’ve been there from her wanting to be a police officer to a model to now a fashion designer,” he said. “I think she has done great so far and has accomplished so much, more than I ever imagined.”

McCarthy said being a role model is a challenge. She has little brothers and her chihuahuas running around the house while she is trying to sew. And her sisters always want to help her with everything.

Miranda is proud of her sister and looks up to her as a role model. She said when she spends time with McCarthy, she teaches her how to sew.

“She (McCarthy) goes out there and teaches you to have your own independence and not care what other people think. Her clothes represent individualism and I think that is cool.”