The most fabulous closet on TikTok
Carla Rockmore’s social media star arrived practically overnight, and largely by accident. When the country went into its first pandemic lockdown in March 2020, the Dallas-based designer longed to do something creative. Her friends asked her to entertain them. “The only thing I had to play with was my fabulous wardrobe,” she says.
Less a closet and more of a two-story showroom, the space includes a spiral staircase, a fireplace, and an enviable mix of high-low fashion. A Dior bag is at home alongside a Zara top, Birkenstocks, a vintage Gucci dress and thrift store finds.
Rockmore started posting happy styling videos on YouTube, and one of her kids set up a TikTok account for her (@carlarockmore). Not much happened at first; She only amassed 91 followers on TikTok in a year. Then a video from April 2021 blew up: She attracted 250,000 followers in one week and now has more than 1.2 million.
The 55-year-old Canadian seems to have solved the secret most influencers would kill for: Rockmore’s followers span generations. Baby boomers, Gen Zers, and everyone in between flock to her quirky videos for style advice, a bit of happy hilarity, and encouragement.
“My TikTokers are usually between the ages of 24 and 35 and they say things like ‘thank you for showing me there is life after 25,’ which scares me,” she says. “What are we doing in this world that’s so wrong that you end up thinking you’re done for after 25?” Closer to their age, Rockmore’s Facebook fans are looking for fashion inspiration beyond 50. They leave comments like, “Thanks, for allowing me to dress how I want to dress” and “thank you for pushing me to put on a lip”.
It’s hard not to see Rockmore’s appeal. Imagine the personality and voice of The magic school bus‘ Ms. Frizzle, but with the hair and wardrobe of sex in the cityis Carrie Bradshaw. Sprinkle in a shirt dress, some chunky bangles, a pair of spiked combat boots, and some Iris apple. Now imagine her making videos to teach you the history of the Burberry trench coat or how to style a tent dress.
She may be new to the medium, but Rockmore has been a designer for decades. She began her career in an Amsterdam couture fashion house before returning to Canada, where she spent 15 years working as a fashion designer for companies such as Buffalo Jeans and Disney. After getting married and having two children, she decided that she couldn’t travel internationally that much. Instead, she translated her understanding of design and manufacture into fashion jewelry.
In 2012, Rockmore and her family relocated from Toronto to Texas for her husband’s job. Michael Stitt is CEO of Dallas-based Haggar Clothing Co. “It was a huge shock to me,” she says. “I’ve never been in the heat. And I had never been to a city that didn’t have a manufacturing component.”
Rockmore tried to be a carpool mom for a few years but failed. “There was always some kind of catastrophe,” she says. “I forgot the forks. I melted something in the car. I forgot a child somewhere.”
A friend introduced her to Rajasthani jewelry makers in Jaipur, India and she set to work designing a fine jewelry line with Stanley Korshak. The collection took three years to produce, and the pandemic didn’t help. Rockmore was in India in March 2020 to design their latest collection. Stitt called her and said she needed to return to the United States before the country went into lockdown.
Her 39-piece collection was finally launched in July this year. Like the style she’s known for, the collection is unconventional. The center stone of a ring is set between two golden rabbits. Tiny opal and moonstone birds sit on golden hoops. Her Victorian Goddess earrings were inspired by a woman’s torso in a corset.
Her biggest challenge for the collection was scaling. Watch any of Rockmore’s videos and you’ll know how much she loves oversized jewelry. But she couldn’t do that in 18k gold. Much of their work consisted of stripping down the pieces to something more affordable. Even so, pieces range from $1,000 to just over $8,000.
In the last six months, Rockmore has also designed and launched two capsule collections with Amazon’s The Drop (buyers only have 30 hours to purchase the pieces) and is developing a new line of fashion jewelry to launch this fall becomes. But TikTok may have really allowed the designer to scratch her creative itch.
“There’s a symphony that goes off in your head when you’re creative and you need to get something out of it. And I found it frustrating that I couldn’t find my place here,” she says. “For me, it’s very rewarding to go into my closet and just express how I feel about my look and why I’m putting these pieces together.”
This story originally appeared in the October issue of D magazine with the caption “TikTok’s most amazing closet”. write to [email protected].
Catherine Wendlandt is online co-editor for D magazine‘s Living and Home and Garden blogs where she covers everything…
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