New Type #30: Carolina Sarria & Bianca Allen Interview

April 16, 2018 5:00 PM

Both Carolina Sarria and Bianca Allen knew they wanted to become fashion designers from a young age. It was only a matter of time before they would wind up in New York City and their paths would intersect. One being Colombian, the other Italian, one rocking jet-black hair, the other jet-blue, the striking women fill each other’s voids and exude an iconic image of rock’n’roll. It is no surprise they instantly clicked and fell in business when they met four years ago. Having already launched her eponymous label in 2012, Carolina enlisted Bianca to grow the brand together and it has since developed a niche following and bustling flagship on the Lower East Side (149 Ludlow Street). More recently, Samantha Deller joined the pair to handle the business of the brand, serving as CEO.

The duo designs for the elegant woman, attracted by her strength, and in their Spring/Summer 2018 collection, elegance translates to classic prints with a twist. Think sequined squares next to plaid checks, a houndstooth pattern within zebra animalier, and snakeskin-embossed, transparent plastic. Their inspiration spans from Art Deco to 70s glam to 90s grunge. Picasso’s primary hues collide with graphic black and white. Relishing the ability to work one-on-one with their customers at their atelier, Carolina and Bianca imbue a personal touch in every garment. TWELV spoke with the rising designers on their creative dynamic, finding inspiration, and cutting through the noise: 


When did you each of realize that you wanted to be designers?

Bianca Allen: It sounds cliche to say, but basically ever since I can remember. I was very young, maybe 6 or 7 and my older cousin taught me how to do my first fashion sketches, and from that moment on it was my life obsession. I literally would sit in elementary school creating seasons and collections on scraps of paper instead of paying attention to class. I can never remember wanting to be anything else so passionately.

Carolina Sarria: From a young age I was also passionate about designing. I used to dream and imagine about becoming a designer, and I believe everything you imagine can become real. So that force was what pushed me to follow my career and path as a fashion designer. 


How did the two of you meet?

BA: We met about 8 months after I first moved to New York, when Carolina was preparing to have her second fashion show. One of my friends was actually cast as a model for the runway and she invited us both for a night out, and then the rest is history... We went on to become girlfriends and then business and design partners. 

CS: We were immediately connected, we fell in love with our creativity and ideas. 

BA: It wasn't until later when we realized we had a lot of mutual friends in common and there had been about 3 or 4 times we were supposed to meet but hadn't for one reason or another. 


What motivated you to open your store on Ludlow St? Do you feel it distinguishes you in a time of so many e-commerce fashion brands?

CS: I always knew that this area was the perfect representation for our brand. The Lower East Side keeps the feeling of back-in-the-day NYC– you know– the rock, the art, the spray painted walls, and unique style. I think we opened the store with the objective to meet and collaborate with new clients– interesting people that will inspire us to keep creating new collections– and to make the store our home where we are able to share with the world our creativity. We like to have personalized viewings with clients, explain to them what goes on in each piece. I think e-commerce is very practical, but it’s making fashion and art loose its magic, and to me, I see my brand as magic.


You both have international backgrounds. How do your Colombian and Italian roots influence your designs?

BA: I feel like my Italian roots definitely help me connect with Caro, in the sense that we both come from emotional, romantic Latin backgrounds. It also helps that knowing Italian made it very easy for me to become fluent in Spanish. So it helps us connect via language as well. I wouldn't really say my design aesthetic is very rooted in traditional Italian aesthetic, especially since I grew up moving around a lot. However, I do find a lot of inspiration in classic Italian cinema and in the strength and elegance of Italian beauties like Sophia Loren or Monica Bellucci. 


How do you feel the collection has evolved since it’s conception?

BA: I think more than saying our brand or collection has evolved, we have evolved and both become stronger and more talented designers. Just like with any craft, time, trial and error and process is what builds strength. I feel like now we can execute ideas a lot more easily and have maximized our eye for detail and craft. 

CS: Within the brand, I think where we have evolved most is that we have reached the point where we have a good balance of artistic and ready-to-wear. We have a better balance with our customers and their needs. 


What’s the creative dynamic in the duo?

BA: Its very open and free flowing. A lot of times, we have the same ideas without even realizing, or we give each other opinions that the other was already thinking [Laughs]. We do have a very good balance of making up for one another. Say, if I'm off, Caro is on or vice versa, which definitely helps since the fashion world can become exhausting. But for the most part, we just feed ideas off each other and build them up step by step in a very back and forth sort of process. We are definitely both stubborn, but we know when the other has an idea that makes sense and we figure out how to compromise.  


You’ve both mentioned that you fall in love with elegant women. Who are your latest muses?

CS: I love women in general, definitely to the point where I can become fanatic [laughs]. but I wouldn't say I have a specific muse. It's more whoever is in my life at the moment that I may be having a more intimate relationship with. 

BA: Omg, there are always so many. I think the main women inspirations I always come back to in terms of their strength and energy are Sade, Angelina Jolie and Erykah Badu. As far as newer muses, I just saw Sevdaliza in concert and thought her energy and stage presence were so profound, and as for models Mica Argañaraz, Freja Beha, Marine Deleeuw, and Aymeline Valade. I guess I have a thing for cheekbones…


What was the inspiration around the latest collection?

BA: Our last collection started with a really strong focus and research on classic art deco shapes, and how we could fuck those up in a more rock and roll, grunge sort of way, as well as mix in Picasso graphic color references and shapes. 


I love how you reinvent classic prints like leopard, plaid, houndstooth, zebra. How do you go about bringing new life to traditional designs?

BA: Thank you! A lot of the reinvention comes from really intensively sourcing our fabrics and trying to seek out the most particular or weird and unusual effects. If its something more classic like a plaid, we try to find a way to cut it up with something unexpected like a wavy sequin strip or sheer inserts and punk hardware embellishments, or create a shape that is unconventional.  


Can you tell us about any exciting projects or endeavors that you have upcoming? 

CS: I’m really excited for our upcoming show in June and also our new classics collection that we are working on for the store and online.  

BA: And a new animation series that we are working on as a special collaboration!


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

CS: Trust your work, don't listen to the noise outside, and you only live once. 

BA: Thats a tricky one, but probably, "There are no rules,” which seems very simple and obvious, but so much of society gets caught up in the "path" that is told to them or forced upon them, or that to achieve a certain success there are guidelines that have to be followed. I find that creating my own path and going about success in my own manner has been the most positive and productive way to grow to higher levels.  


Is there a particularly difficult decision you’ve had to make as the brand grows? 

CS: There are always a lot of difficult decisions we have to make. Growing a brand feels like playing a Nintendo game at times [Laughs], but the more you play, the better you get. I think a particular challenge that most small brands face is what is the best way to use our finances and how can we maximize our designs without loosing our originality.


What do you think is the biggest issue facing the fashion industry right now?

BA: For me, the biggest issue is that there is definitely an abundance of fashion as well as  of designers and creators in general. It can easily get overwhelming as well as create a lot of challenge for brands and designers to stay relevant, especially with how quickly "fast fashion" brands can move.

CS: The biggest issue in my opinion, in regards to fashion and art, is that people have a hard time maintaining focus and truly appreciating it. Because of the internet, everything is so fast-paced and it is so easy to copy ideas and concepts. So, it causes a lot of talent to get lost in this cyber black hole. 








related posts


TWELV sits down with founders of Parlor Social Club Jan Cieslikiewicz and Frederick Ghartey to give a glimpse into the story of co-founders living in New York City.

July 21, 2022 8:28 PM  |  People

Keiichiro Nakajima interview

Keiichiro Nakajima is a photographer and director based in Japan, represented by a management and production company called Signo, Inc, which is one of the largest and leading artist management...

October 23, 2021 1:37 AM  |  People

SHIN FUJIYAMA Founder of Students Helping Honduras INTERVIEW

Japanese-American philanthropist Shin Fujiyama co-founded Students Helping Honduras with his sister Cosmo Fujiyama.

December 20, 2020 8:02 PM  |  People


Beginning with his childhood in Lebanon, Eli Mizrahi garnished inspiration from across the globe to debut his evening wear brand, Mônot, last fall.

December 07, 2020 10:34 PM  |  People


KAORI is a renowned make-up artist and the creative director of RMK beauty, a flourishing Japanese makeup and skincare brand that is now sold worldwide.

November 11, 2020 10:39 PM  |  People


The Mind Behind The Runway

September 30, 2020 3:58 PM  |  People



February 12, 2020 10:32 PM  |  People


It has become almost useless and banal to introduce Jean-Paul Gaultier.The mere mention of his name alone elicits a constellation of images that have become part of our mind and imagination since...

February 12, 2020 9:31 PM  |  People


Dara Senders, the designer behind the eponymously titled, all size inclusive brand that launched in 2018, has always been obsessed with fashion.

January 28, 2020 11:50 AM  |  People


From a small city near Milan to Downtown New York, Paolo, Designer and creater of NTTE Hatsdiscovered his passion for hats and anything vintage at a young age.

November 19, 2019 6:29 PM  |  People


1. As a new designer, how do you hope to distinguish yourself among other designers?

November 19, 2019 6:05 PM  |  People


Nian Fish, creative director of KCD, has been, for decades, a pivotal figure in the fashion world, assembling and producing fashion shows that have become cultural benchmarks unto themselves, such...

September 17, 2019 6:45 PM  |  People


Cesar Love Alexadre is a duo of visual artists formed by Isabelle Chaput and Nelson Tiberghien.They met at the Gobelins school of Photography in Paris and now based in New York where they work on...

September 17, 2019 6:42 PM  |  People


TWELV got a special interview from Tom Pecheux. Read as we host interviews and explore the lives of artists who shape the final product - directors, fashion designers, stylists, ...

August 20, 2019 3:17 PM  |  People


Anthony Vaccarello was considered as one of the brightest new talent in fashion: he was part of this new generation of talents the whole industry has kept an eye on to see them grow, to see them...

July 24, 2019 12:03 AM  |  People

Why is Everyone in Hollywood Buzzing About Actress Malgosia Garnys?

Have you ever felt like you were beautiful and powerful and the universe was conspiring in your best interest, and your opportunities were endless because you’ve lost people you loved...

March 02, 2019 10:00 PM  |  People

R.I.P Chek Wu

We at TWELV are deeply saddened to announce the passing of talented photographer, boundless free-spirit, and our friend, Chek Wu.

November 28, 2018 12:00 PM  |  People

GatherNYC: Everything We Love About Church With No Weird Stuff

GatherNYC is Everything We Love About Sunday Service With None of the Weird Stuff


November 17, 2018 3:00 PM  |  People

NEW TYPE #33: Catherine Casias Inteview

If fashion is an expression of experiences, Catherine Casias has a lot of area to cover. She has excelled as an Olympic volleyball player, a philosophy major, and a fine artist....

October 12, 2018 4:00 PM  |  People

Party Czar Carmen D’Alessio, Empress of the Sun and the Queen of the Night

You may not know Carmen D’Alessio by name.

October 08, 2018 10:00 PM  |  People
Shot by CHAMA


IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang


August 28, 2018 5:00 PM  |  People


IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang


August 07, 2018 5:00 PM  |  People


"Introducing an innovative Men’s designer to inspire you with the visions of future and the rise of technology."

June 26, 2018 4:00 PM  |  People
Silvia Mella (right) with Thomas De Bruyne for "House of Molteni"

Branding in the Worlds of Art and Commerce According to Silvia Mella

Branding is everything. For an entrepreneur, it is the difference between viability and bankruptcy. On social media, we are all our own brands.

May 21, 2018 4:00 PM  |  People
Jackie Yang, Creative Director of Chelsea and Walker. Video Still.

Interview: Jackie Yang, Creative Director of Chelsea and Walker

TWELV sat down with Jackie Yang, Creative Director of Chelsea and Walker, in the brand’s New York City...

May 21, 2018 2:00 PM  |  People
Krystal and Marilyn Lavoie

New Type #31: Angela Mitchell – Krystal and Marilyn Lavoie Interview

We are living in the age of fast fashion, and even Europe’s most storied luxury brands have been moving their factories to Asia to reduce costs.

May 17, 2018 3:00 PM  |  People

Ikemen #37: Dominik Halas

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang


May 03, 2018 12:00 PM  |  People
Bianca Allen, Carolina Sarria, and Samantha Deller

New Type #30: Carolina Sarria & Bianca Allen Interview

Both Carolina Sarria and Bianca Allen knew they wanted to become fashion designers from a young age.

April 16, 2018 5:00 PM  |  People

Interview & Backstage: Christian Siriano Celebrates 10 Years in Fashion

After the successful launch of his book Dresses to Dream About, a decade-anniversary celebration on the runway, and a whirlwind of striking celebrity looks on the red carpet of...

March 09, 2018 11:00 AM  |  People
Jackie Astier. Photo: BFA.

New Type #29: Jackie Astier Interview

Astier places its identity within the advanced adaptation skills of the modern New York woman.

February 24, 2018 11:00 AM  |  People

INTERVIEW: Meet Kiko Arai, Miss Japan-turned Face of Balmain and Zara

Kiko Arai hails from Osaka, Japan, and after winning the title of Miss Japan 2012, the now 27-year old is captivating a new audience– the fashion world.

February 06, 2018 12:11 AM  |  People

Interview: Parisian Designer Frédéric Robert's Debut Shoe Collection "ME.LAND"

A vibrant brand of Italian-made shoes for men is emerging this year as one-to-watch.

January 26, 2018 10:00 AM  |  People
Maxime Tiliouine and Quentin Hernandez

New Type #28: the Design Duo Behind Maxime Hernandez Interview

The streetwear phenomenon in the fashion establishment is not slowing down anytime soon.

January 12, 2018 2:00 PM  |  People


With a wealth of experience shooting some for some of fashion's most renowned clients (Yves Saint Laurent, Guy Laroche), ...

December 29, 2017 2:00 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #36: Jérôme LaMaar

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang


November 27, 2017 12:00 PM  |  People


SITE BY: monocomplex©Marbles & Marbles International Inc. Drupal Development by: DivDiv, NYC
▲ back to top ▲