Sitting under the beating sun at Hilton Head Island in the early 1990s, four-year-old Caroline Ruder had no idea that over two decades later, the brightly colored ruffles of her sandy children’s bathing suit would become the source of inspiration for her own clothing designs. Influenced by stacks of old family vacation photos, Ruder’s Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019 collection flashes with the bold pinks, blues, and oranges of those early beach days.
On Tuesday evening, the Atlanta native and SCAD graduate launched her debut collection to the public for the first time in a trunk show partnership with Tootsies in Buckhead. Towering models draped in billowing colorblocked dresses and dramatically ruffled jumpsuits brought hints of the seaside to Tootsies’s racks of luxury merchandise.
After meeting Ruder through the Atlanta chapter of Fashion Group International, Sara Mixon, events coordinator and stylist at Tootsies, was struck by her flowing designs and knew they had to be brought to the store. “I felt very strongly about her collection,” she says. “I think it’s brave, and exciting, and bright.”
The brand’s philosophy—“Today is an occasion worth dressing for”—is hardly lost in translation through the collection. Anybody wearing the vibrant tones and playful movement of Ruder’s designs would be hard to miss on the street. Donning the elegant floor-length folds of the Emily dress to do your weekly grocery shopping would, indeed, be quite the occasion.
Though Caroline Ann has shown on the runways of New York and Vancouver Fashion Week, Ruder has no plans to jet off to relocate her Atlanta-based business to a more fashion-focused city. “Atlanta is my home and is my home base,” she says. “New York has honestly never been part of the equation to me.”
Even though Ruder will not be taking Caroline Ann out of the city anytime soon, the spring/summer collection was only at Tootsies for a limited two-day show. But Ruder’s looks can always be found online.