Stanley Carroll's spring collection puts fine art and vintage fabrics on the runway

‘Now, I feel more comfortable to just essentially follow my own instincts, my own sort of aesthetic. I’m less prone to be influenced by trends’

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It doesn’t take a war or famine to make people flee; it can be as simple as an environmental shift observes veteran fashion designer, Stanley Carroll.

“People sometimes have to run from their daily existence with nothing but their clothes on their back,” says Carroll about his upcoming show ‘Flight’ that’s on the runway Friday at Acacia Masonic Hall.

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Carroll wanted to create awareness about people caught in these situations, and a simple thing like inserting pockets in clothing can create a huge difference.

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“Hardship can happen at a moment’s notice, in where you just have to run. This was just as relevant last year when the big forest fires were happening in B.C.,” says Carroll, whose work has always incorporated themes of inclusion and diversity. “As a creative person, you do wonder if you have the opportunity to draw attention to the plight of others by having a creative voice.”

As the world slowly opens up, Carroll acknowledges there is a sense of euphoria being unleashed as people move around more freely.

“There’s this entire generation of teenagers that are about to go out and party,” he says, another idea that helped ‘Flight’ come to mind.

The Dutch-Canadian designer is also an admirer of the fine arts. This collection’s signature look incorporates high-resolution digital prints from some of the great painters like Rembrandt, Klimt and Van Gogh. It was a long shot, but Carroll approached the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam asking permission to use images of famous paintings, and his efforts paid off.

“I got an email with high-resolution images of some of the paintings I was asking about,” he says.

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Stanley Carroll.
Stanley Carroll. Photo by Ernest Augustus /Supplied

Carroll made his debut as a fashion designer in the early 1980s. He’s maintained his concept of European minimalism, making flowy and comfortable apparel, but time has helped define him as an artist.

“Now, I feel more comfortable to just essentially follow my own instincts, my own sort of aesthetic. I’m less prone to be influenced by trends in fashion or whatever else may be happening,” he says. “I think my inclination has always been a certain sense of individual comfort as a real primary focus.”

As a designer, Carroll embodies the practice of sustainable fashion in his designs.

“No matter what you’re going to spend your money on, take a deep breath and think about it in terms of the implications not only on your life or lifestyle but what and how this thing came about,” he explains.

Carroll’s brand does not do mass production of clothing. Materials such as vintage fabrics are purchased from warehouses and leftover fabric from major producers that generally would end up in landfills are bought. New garments are also upcycled by using pieces like vintage sari fabrics.

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“We limit wastage by creating patchwork pieces where items from the cutting floor are recut to be created into new pieces, although the process is time-consuming, the reward is pieces that are one of a kind that have their own spirit,” Carroll shares in one of his blog posts.

The new Stanley Carroll collection show will be shown on Friday at 7 p.m. and tickets are available on Eventbrite. Carroll will be hosting a pop-up shop on Saturday opening at 10 a.m. also at Acacia Masonic Hall, 10433 83 Ave.

Bicycle panniers and messenger bags

During the pandemic, when athleisure became the preferred choice of clothing for many, Carroll managed to keep himself occupied with a project that is close to his Dutch roots. He began designing bicycle panniers and messenger bags.

Stanley Carroll has begun designing panniers for bicycles.
Stanley Carroll has begun designing panniers for bicycles. Photo by Ernest Augustus /Studio E Photography

Carroll did spend a significant amount of time during the pandemic questioning his role as a fashion designer since people weren’t dressing up to go anywhere or for special occasions. And things were slow in the studio. As an avid year-round cyclist who doesn’t know how to drive — a common lifestyle arrangement in the Netherlands where he’s from —  Carroll finally had the opportunity to craft these bicycle bags that have been on his mind for some time.

“It was quite time-consuming to come up with the design concept. The logistics behind it and the setup is different than fashion on many levels,” says Carroll.

Having a bicycle as his sole form of transportation, Carroll had a good understanding of how he needed to make the panniers and the messenger bags to suit this lifestyle.

As soon as he was able to start marketing the bags in 2021, “It sort of exploded and reactions have been incredibly positive.”

The bags, 80 per cent of which tend to be sold outside Canada, start at $90 online at

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