Fashion Designer Feature: Mae Vivid’s Dontarius Clyburn
Dontarius Clyburn is about to be the first designer to be featured in the Belk Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade and he’s only 21. How did he manage it? “I submitted my portfolio to the Executive Director. I’m always looking for bigger opportunities,” Dontarius explained. Linda Zespa, the Executive Director for the parade, presented the idea to the board and the next thing Dontarius knew, he was being featured.
Thanks to Dontarius’ initiative, his clothing line, Mae Vivid, will be featured in the parade. The event will be televised on WBTV November 22nd at 10 AM. Dontarius will also show Mae Vivid’s fall collection at the 45th Annual Carrousel Scholarship Program awards ceremony put on by Belk before the parade on the night of November 21st at the Omni Hotel. During the awards ceremony, five graduating high school seniors are given scholarships to help them with their college careers.
Dontarius wants his success to be “a huge motivation for young dreamers” and counts the opportunity of being featured in the parade as “an amazing blessing.”
“Growing up as a kid I was always cutting up things and adding glitter,” Dontarius said. He was “born and raised” in the Charlotte area and is a self-taught clothing designer. “I got a sewing machine and I just started practicing,” he said of his methods. He looked up a few tutorials on YouTube, but in the end he turned out to be a hands on learner, making mistakes and practicing until everything was perfect and he had developed his style.
“I love the creative aspect of envisioning something and being able to make it come to life,” he said of his creative process.
For this fall’s collection he started hammering out the concept in early spring. Inspired by The Hunger Games, he took the ideas of the couture fashions in the show and made them more androgynous, with a mix of leather and pleather materials as well as maroons, greens, and gold and white colors.
He sees his designs mainly on women in their mid-20’s. “By that time women feel more comfortable with their style and they already have a set image of what they want to wear and the image they want to represent.” He describes this year’s collection as “bold, edgy, innovative and intricate.”
During last years Charlotte Fashion Week in September 2011, Dontarius won the award for Best Couture Design, which he counts as a defining moment in his fashion career. He hopes that in five years he will be showcasing his fashions internationally. “I would love to be in Milan showcasing my work,” he said, then continues to gush “also one of my dresses on best dressed in The Fashion Police.”
Asked about his more immediate plans for the parade, Dontarius explains “At first I was going to just have the models walk in the parade,” but on further thought he realized not only would they be in heels, but it would be cold. He has now come up with a much more model-friendly way of showcasing the designs in the parade, the parade float.
The models will wave from the float as it moves along. When the float stops periodically, the models will strike different poses with photographers on each side taking flash photos. “It will be like a motion photo shoot,” he explained. With a float set-up like that, it will certainly catch more than a few eyes during the parade.