Meet the style maverick who will inspire the next generation of designers

SHE’S worked with such famous designers as Oscar de la Renta and Calvin Klein. Now Dr Carol Harris is bringing her passion for fashion to the North-East to head up at new Body Contour Fashion degree at a leading Northern arts school.

Her contacts book reads like a fashion’s who’s who. In the ludicrously glamorous world of haute couture, collaborating with iconic designers such as Muiccia Prada, Oscar de la Renta and Calvin Klein is all in a day’s work for the fashion professor.

Until recently, Carol’s job title was Professor of Fashion at the prestigious Savannah College of Design in Georgia, in the States, a role that most fashion academics would dream of having. There, Carol enjoyed an illustrious graduate profile, including Audra, whose ‘Vision’ collection is sold exclusively by net-a-porter and is a Paris Fashion Week regular.

Now, after Cleveland College of Art and Design enticed her to head up its new Body Contour Fashion degree, Carol will be the inspiration for the next generation of lingerie and sportswear designers.

Her move to the region sees a shift in the fashion landscape at CCAD in Hartlepool, as they look to break the fashion norms of the North-East by offering a lingerie, structured bodywear, swimwear and active-wear degree, the first of its kind in the North and one of only three offered nationally.

“A great deal of my industry experience is in lingerie, so it’s a perfect time to join the school and to start to build a lingerie and active sportswear programme,” says Carol. “It is very much a niche market, as there are only two other schools in the UK which actually offer this specialist course - De Montfort and London College of Fashion – so it’s exciting and a great challenge for me.”

The move, which may be seen as a surprising one within fashion circles, matches her fashion mantra as she enjoys challenging norms and encouraging a different way of thinking. This is borne out in her choice of favourite designers – John Paul Gaultier and Rick Owens – who like Carol dare to do things a little bit differently. She has worked on collections for Calvin Klein and provided highly sought-after and time-honoured skills to other internationally renowned designers, such as hand-crafted evening gowns for Oscar De La Renta.

A real fashionista, Carol’s far reaching contacts in the world of fashion, which span way beyond design, include Jay Alexander, the Runway Coach for Alexander McQueen and star of America’s Next Top Model and Andre-Leon Talley, former editor-at-large at American Vogue. She’s also collaborated with fashion luminaries such as Muiccia Prada and Oscar De la Renta through lifetime achievement awards at SCAD’s annual fashion shows.

“More and more consumers are turning to distinctive and individual boutiques to purchase clothes that offer quality and uniqueness, so the new course is going to work with a design-led approach, with artists producing creative and forward-thinking design solutions,” she says.

Carol is working with a number of different companies such as French lace and tulle company The House of Sophie Hallette in Paris and Una Burke, a multi-award winning luxury leather accessories designer and artist whose work featured on The Hunger Games and whose clients include Taylor Swift, L’Oréal and Vogue.

“With quality industry projects and connections in the US, we can provide both international and national job placements and internships,” she says. “We will prepare our students to travel, be ambitious and take on those positions to fulfil their career goals. We will provide them with the necessary skills to be successful, the ultimate aim of this programme and build on the reputation for employability. It is definitely the start of an interesting journey.”