Designer Kara Rainey: OSU Alumna

Oklahoma State graduate tells her story of becoming a designer, giving insight to her past, present, and future.

By: Maddy Jones

Kara Rainey has been thinking about her career in fashion since she was 9 years old. Kara believed that fashion was “art on a body” and fell in love with it. Whenever she got her allowance she would save up her quarters to buy fashion magazines. As a child she would tell everyone she was going to be an artist when she grows up, painting and things like that. When she started looking at clothing magazines she didn’t see it as something to wear, she saw it as art on a body, and she fell in love with that idea. At the age of 10, she shifted her focus from painting to fashion and Alexander McQueen became her icon. Kara went from wanting to be an artist to wanting to be a designer and to create the intricate pieces more resemble artwork. Kara, herself, wears unique-styled clothes. When she was growing up she didn’t have a lot of money so she would always shop at thrift stores. She continues that today, she can always find something that is one-of-a-kind, unique,, and no one else was going to be wearing that style. “I don’t try to stand out but, I like to,” Kara says.


Those are the styles of the clothing which Kara creates. Kara doesn’t design her clothing for herself but she creates items that she would like to wear too. Back to McQueen being her inspiration: Kara is awed by the time it takes to create each piece. She loves the design, the patience that was practiced to include every detail in the work. “He never tried to fit into what other people were doing, he was always very much in his own head,” Kara said. McQueen is what got her started at the young age of 10 and what kept her going throughout high school and college. Iris van Herpen is another inspiration to Kara. Van Herpen uses different modern practices for the looks she creates. She uses

3D printed items to enhance pieces and has made a name for herself with the esteemed “water dress.” The apparel design and production program at Oklahoma State University is different from other universities; other design schools focus on the traditional sketching and thinking outside the box. OSU gets you ready for the actual industry. “They teach you real-life applications and technology that real industries are using,” Kara says. “A lot of the problems with students in design, they think that it’s so neat and so glamorous but in reality, it’s a lot of hard work.” This program at OSU helps students work with the realities of design and production. Kara’s senior collection was made up of 18 individual pieces. She made each piece on top of the school work that was already required and it was to be completed outside of the classroom. She had to find the time to create all of the pieces that she showed at the end of the year; she would use any and all of her free time to create her non-textile piece and then she would find uses to recycle the pieces of fabric that she had cut to create another piece. In her senior show she won the top _. She also got third place for her non-textile piece (the dress of matches, pictured). Kara was also a top five finalist for a company in Los Angeles. They flew her out to the city and they paid for her hotel. She won “fan favorite” for her coat (pictured somewhere). She since has moved back to Tulsa and is working two jobs, both in the fashion industry. Her goal is to save up enough money to move to a city where her dream job is located.

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