Fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, a native of Barrington, returns home for a pop-up and fundraiser at the White House – Chicago Tribune | Fashion

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New York City fashion icon and designer Cynthia Rowley, a former Barrington High School student, brought the beach to Barrington on June 2.

Thursday night’s event, titled “Beach Soirée: Cynthia Rowley Brings the Beach to Barrington,” was a fundraiser for and at the Barrington White House.

Village President Karen Darch calls Rowley “one of Barrington’s own.

“We’re so thankful to Cynthia for coming back and doing this,” Darch said.

“The White House is such a special place, it is our community and cultural center. It sums up Barrington’s history as a building that stood the test of time and represents people’s desire for the uplifting things in life,” said Darch.

Rowley’s designs were featured in a boutique and pop-up shop within the local historic venue.

About 120 people attended the fundraiser, said Beth Raseman, White House manager for Barrington.

“This is really a kickoff for the community to put the capital reserve fund out there,” Raseman said.

“We have a goal of raising $2.5 million to create a long-term fund to take care of the house and we have already raised $1.7 million. So we’re really just letting people know that we want to try and get money to support that effort.”

Lobster sandwiches were served alfresco on the evening as attendees mingled, some featuring brilliant designs by Rowley.

After two years of COVID-19, the use of color has brought joy to people’s lives, Rowley said.

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“Color is dopamine,” said the fashion designer. “People love to dress up. … I think people are really happy that they can have color and shine and have fun in their clothes and it really feels like a joyful celebration of life now. It’s very rewarding.”

The Hamptons-inspired party was held in Rowley’s honor with a portion of the proceeds from the sales benefiting the Barrington White House.

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Rowley attended Barrington schools, including Hough Street Elementary School, before leaving the northwestern suburb at age 18.

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“I went to every school in this town,” said Rowley, who said he returns often, even at Christmas, to spend time with family.

“I love everything about Barrington, nothing has changed,” said Rowley. “I love this small town community.

Rowley left for New York City with $3,000 to start a career in fashion and went on to create a lifestyle brand of ready-to-wear fashion, swim & surf and fitness, as well as accessories, home décor and a men’s collection.

It has stores in cities like New York, Malibu, Palm Beach, Aspen and Chicago.

Dave Nelson of Barrington has known Rowley for years.

“She’s a local celebrity,” Nelson said.

Rasemen described the Barrington White House as a local icon. He explained that it was originally built in 1898 and “has really been a centerpiece of the city.”

“When we restored it in 2015 we just wanted to make sure it was always taken care of the way it was restored and we host over 10,000 people a year here for cultural, community, non-profit and private events and it’s great to have something special, historic and unique to our city,” Raseman said.

Bette Bilton, from Barrington Hills, shopped at Rowley’s boutique.

“I love it because it’s modern and fun,” Bilton said of Rowley’s ready-to-wear line.

Kelly Speichinger, of Barrington, a 2020 Barrington High School graduate, wore a Cynthia Rowley gown to the fundraiser.

“I actually wore this (dress) to my prom… when I was a junior,” she said. “I graduated in 2020, COVID canceled my prom, but otherwise I probably would have bought another Cynthia for prom because I love her work,” Speichinger said.

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Renata Sanfilippo, of Barrington Hills, wore looks by Cynthia Rowley, arriving in a purple skirt, chunky lavender high heels, rows of pastel bows on her shirt, long gold gloves and a metallic clutch.

Sanfilippo said that people need color in their lives.

“Yes, we do,” Sanfilippo said. “Even during the pandemic, I would get dressed at home. … Colors can definitely cheer us up.”

Raseman said she was grateful for Rowley’s visit, “this being his hometown and helping us with our efforts.”

Karie Angell Luc is a freelancer.