inside cynthia rowley closet

Cynthia Rowley’s Closet Is the Dreamiest Archive of Her Brand

With wet suits and trucker hats to boot. New York.

By: Leah Faye Cooper
Styling: Leah Faye Cooper, Stephanie Mark
Photography: Alec Kugler

Subscribing to the mantra that slow and steady wins the race, Cynthia Rowley has achieved championship status in the fashion industry, launching her brand in 1988 and expanding it to the tune of countless collections, nine boutiques, and forays into bedding and home decor. The Barrington, Illinois, native invited us to her West Village town house, and what ensued was a proverbial walk down memory lane as we pored over her extensive archive of namesake pieces.

“I did more girly, feminine things early on,” she says, “and I still do, but now that’s mixed with pieces that have a sportier edge.” Most notable among those sporty pieces are Rowley’s wet suits, inspired by her avid surfing hobby (more on that later). As for her personal style, Rowley describes it as “yin and yang at two ends of the spectrum. So either it’s very chill, like a wet suit on the beach, or more dressed up, like a lace dress with boots. It’s sort of unexpected, I guess, and maybe a little risky, but ultimately super fun.” The same can be said of our afternoon with the designer.

Click through for a look at Rowley’s vibrant designs and personal archive, and more on her decades-long career.