Woman of Interest: Cynthia Rowley

Exclusive! The designer and 24 Hour Catwalk judge talks about following her gut—and her own tough road to success

By Susan Swimmer
Cynthia Rowley image
Photograph: Photographed by David Needleman

What’s your latest project?

I’m a judge on the Lifetime show 24 Hour Catwalk. Four competing designers each create a fashion collection in 24 hours.

What thrills you?

You know a runner’s endorphin high? I get it from doing deals.

Her work ethic: My dad was a schoolteacher; my mom was a mom. If I wanted anything, I had to either make it myself or figure out a way to get it on my own.

Early dream: I didn’t think about limos and supermodels—just being able to make things. But it was hard. I was always running into the bathroom and bursting into tears; then I’d wipe off my face and go back to work.

Following her gut: I was doing runway shows and a home line at Target [in 2003]. Everybody told me it would be the end of my career, but I had a feeling it would work. Like, why can’t you spend a lot on a handbag, then go to Target and buy sheets or a T-shirt?

Personal worst: You know when you fill out a form with your marital status? I can pretty much check all the boxes: widowed, divorced, married. All those things, difficult and great, sort of strike a balance.

Finding challenges: What excites me is doing something nobody has tried. Who else would design diapers? You’d think it would be the kiss of death for a fashion designer. I mean, nobody designs wet suits, but I surf, and I'd look around and see that every girl looks like a little dude in the water, so I started doing them.

Want MORE? Check out another fascinating Woman of Interest, Glenn Close.

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First Published January 17, 2012

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Comments

Debra Gilmour01.17.2012

Love this! As for the "Following her gut" segment, I could not agree more. Excellent interview and inspiring lady:)

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