Read our COVID-19 safety guidelines. We will be open on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30.

Creative Notions: Sylvia Carter-Zwerling

In celebration of the exhibition Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love and Black History Month, the Kelly Initiative and the de Young paired up to invite creatives across fields to share a sketch inspired by Kelly and his designs. Here, Kibwe Chase-Marshall, cofounder of the Kelly Initiative, speaks with artist-designer Sylvia Carter-Zwerling about her sketch and Kelly’s legacy.

drawing of a girl wearing a red dress

Tell us about the medium you selected to create your sketch; what informed that decision?

The art supplies I used were colorful pencils that I got as a gift.

Describe the garments you chose to sketch; does your sketch depict an archival Kelly piece, an evolution of one of his signature looks, or a creation that is purely of your own design?

I got an idea from a colorful dress that one of my friends wore to her cousin’s wedding. She wore it with red shoes. I also wanted to draw something with a lot of colors, like a very colorful blanket that my family has at home.

Describe your relationship with the enduring legacy of Patrick Kelly; what have Mr. Kelly’s style and story meant to you?

I think it’s so cool that he used things that you might throw away to make new things. Like if a button fell off something, he used it to make cool designs on something new. And I liked how the buttons on the dresses were stripes and patterns. I liked the clothes.

picture of Sylvia Carter-Zwerling

Sylvia Carter-Zwerling

At only six years old, Sylvia Carter-Zwerling is by far the youngest artist-designer participating in our tribute to Patrick Kelly’s legacy, but she is by no means the least excited. The opportunity to sketch a look inspired by Mr. Kelly took her right to her happy place: drawing dresses. She’s been known to turn her illustrations into garments for her LOL dolls and has even drawn life-size gowns for herself and her sister, Simone. Turning seven in February, she’s looking forward to celebrating her special day with friends and a family trip to Los Angeles in April.

Kibwe Chase-Marshall

Kibwe Chase-Marshall cut his professional teeth as an apparel designer, working within the studios of some of 7th Avenue's most influential brands (Michael Kors, Isaac Mizrahi, Gap Inc.), before carving out a space in the editorial community as a contributing writer and market editor (Town & Country, Paper, Elle.com). Since 2018, he has diligently operated as an equity advocate, most recently cofounding the Kelly Initiative, a four-point, industry-evolving plan to increase access to opportunities for Black fashion professionals. @byanyseamnecessary


Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love is on view at the de Young museum from October 23, 2021 to April 24, 2022.

See all Creative Notions posts.