Meet the 14-year-old dressmaker from North Potomac

Sporting one in all her personal designs, Chloe Ayissi-Etoh is surrounded by clothes she created in her at-home studio. Picture by Michael Ventura

A yr in the past, Chloe Ayissi-Etoh didn’t know tips on how to sew. However this spring, in a faculty auditorium filled with greater than 900 folks, the teenager soaked in thunderous applause as a bona fide dressmaker.

In a purple costume she’d completed perfecting simply minutes earlier, Chloe adopted fashions who’d walked the stage at Walter Johnson Excessive Faculty in Bethesda in 9 appears from her first assortment, underneath her model chlolanà—a mix of her first identify and center identify, Alana.

For Chloe, an eighth grader on the time, the style present was a significant accomplishment. What made it much more spectacular was that she’d had simply 4 weeks to design, sew and match the attire, pants, shirts and corsets she’d sketched for numerous physique sorts. The present was held throughout a retreat for the Minority Students Program, a bunch led by Montgomery County Public Faculties college students that’s working to shut the achievement hole.

“I didn’t have time to even sleep—I acquired between two and 4 hours an evening,” says Chloe, 14, who lives in North Potomac and attended Robert Frost Center Faculty in Rockville. “It was very hectic, but when I’m set on one thing, I’m going to do it no matter what anyone says and regardless of how loopy it sounds.”

The style present was so effectively acquired that it earned an encore efficiency two months later as a part of Robert Frost’s fiftieth anniversary celebration. Robert Frost science trainer Sunila Varghese, who co-sponsors the varsity’s chapter of the Minority Students Program and has identified Chloe for 2 years, notes that the teenager managed two assistants and two make-up artists throughout the present, and in addition choreographed walks for the fashions, all fellow classmates.

“You would hear a puff when the [audience] heard she was 14. My coronary heart was simply full,” Varghese says. “She’s a really vibrant and gifted woman, and no matter she does, she’s a rock star at it.”

Chloe works on her designs in a basement storage room that she is changing into her stitching studio. Picture by Michael Ventura

Chloe, a rising ninth grader at Wootton Excessive Faculty in Rockville, describes her aesthetic as primarily monochrome with a pop of shade—“a combination of streetwear and stylish.” She attracts inspiration from vogue manufacturers together with London designer Home of CB, identified for its figure-hugging items.

Chloe turned fascinated with vogue in June 2021 after stepping into thrift-store buying and watching TikTok movies about upcycling garments. She quickly began taking stitching classes from an aunt. Numerous hours on YouTube adopted as she soaked up stitching and vogue terminology.

As soon as college began that fall, Chloe says, she now not wished to put on sweats and hoodies to class. She shortly turned identified for her personal designs, even incomes a “Finest Dressed” award from fellow eighth graders in a pupil survey. “For some purpose, I simply turned a fashionista,” she says. “I might go into my closet, have a look at some garments, put collectively an outfit, and it could prove wonderful.”

Simply because she’s now not sporting sweats and hoodies within the hallways doesn’t imply Chloe by no means attire down. However even then, she says, she places a spin on her look. “Truthfully, it is dependent upon my temper,” she says. “If I really feel additional that day, I’ll create a very additional outfit for that day in school—possibly spice issues up with some high-waisted flare pants and [a] turtleneck with an under-bust corset.”

Describing the method of deconstructing a garment as “stunning,” Chloe earlier this yr took out a zipper and ripped up the seams of a pair of stretchy pink shorts she purchased for $2 at a thrift retailer. She then  added interfacing and created an under-bust corset she typically wears to high school over a white costume shirt. “My mother doesn’t like that I’ve such an enormous obsession with corsets,” she admits.

Her mom, Katrina, 45, says she endures fixed vogue recommendation from Chloe, her solely daughter amongst 4 youngsters. “She does ask if she will be able to fashion and costume me, however I inform her, ‘No, get out of my closet. I’m fantastic,’ ” Katrina says. “However possibly this summer time I’ll ask her to make me a shirt.”

Chloe plans to develop into a designer together with her personal line of middle- to high-end ready-to-wear clothes. She says she finds inspiration in every single place and remembers as soon as devising a color-blocked streetwear look from a ladder propped towards a wall in French class. She is changing a basement storage room at her residence into a stitching studio with gentle pink partitions, white tables, numerous inexperienced crops, and an indication bearing her model identify.

Katrina, in the meantime, is making an attempt to reconcile that the daughter she has seen hop from one interest to the subsequent—although Chloe nonetheless likes to bake and cook dinner—now appears dedicated to a future in vogue. “The Lord should work in mysterious methods,” she says. “By no means did I see this one coming. … She loves what she does, and you may’t purchase that.”