Just Accepted 17-Year-Old Fashion Design Student Made Her Foray Into Fashion on Real Housewives of Orange County
Rowan Windhamburke, the daughter of Real Housewives of Orange County star Braunwyn Windham-Burke, debuted her dancewear fashion line, Dark Rabbit, at OC Fashion Week in 2019, as captured by reality show TV cameras. After a successful splash into the industry, the designer and competitive dancer will be moving to Los Angeles this fall to study Fashion Design at FIDM. We recently chatted with Rowan to learn more about her unique story.
Name: Rowan Windhamburke
Current Age: 17
Hometown: Newport Beach, California
FIDM Campus and Start Date: Los Angeles, October 2020
Admissions Advisor: Susan Pope
How did your advisor help with the process? Susan was amazing with the admissions process. She helped me since I first started working on my FIDM application, at the beginning of the year. She gave me advice on my essay and portfolio, guided me through the whole admissions process, and taught me about the details of FIDM classes, majors, trips, quarters, and more. She also gave me so many valuable resources like the Student Handbook & Planner, class schedules and descriptions, and the amazing FIDM MODE magazine, which is so fun to look through.
When did you first discover an interest in fashion? It was when I was around 10 years old and I started taking sewing classes every week at a place in Miami called Design Lab. That really started my passion for fashion design because I had always loved to design the world around me, and now I could actually physically create what I was imagining. It was also around that time that I started watching Project Runway with my mom, and when I saw those designers working to create beautiful, amazing garments to walk down the runway, I knew that that's what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to put my soul into designing things that I love.
What other passions do you have outside of fashion? I've been a serious dancer since I was around seven years old. I used to compete with a dance team in Miami, but since I've lived in California, I've been dancing at my school, Orange County School of the Arts. I'm in the Classical and Contemporary dance conservatory, so I do ballet, modern, and pointe work almost every day. I absolutely love dancing, however it's not something I think I can do as a career since dancing usually isn't very long or fruitful, and most dancers have to retire before 30. And I aspire to be successful and to grow my business in design to take it throughout my whole life. So while I will continue dancing for enjoyment after I leave my current high school—I know that I want to be a designer.
You debuted a dancewear fashion line, Dark Rabbit, at OC Fashion Week in 2019. How did it feel to see your creations on the runway? It was one of the absolute proudest moments of my entire life, along with getting into FIDM. I remember it was such a rush seeing my designs up there, for real, because I had spent so long working, prepping, and anticipating this moment. And now it was actually happening. I was so happy my cheeks hurt from smiling ear to ear.
What was it like to share your runway debut with a huge audience on television? It was such an incredible opportunity to have such a huge platform to show this on. Honestly, it was so cool that my mom was on TV, but the fact that they came and filmed my runway debut was absolutely amazing. Of course, it did end up being a crazy day, but in the end it was one of the best days of my entire life.
How did you discover FIDM and what made the college right for you? I've known about FIDM since I was in 9th grade, because of my Fashion and Costume Design class. We took a field trip to FIDM and got to see the whole campus, and it was so cool. From the museum to the rows and rows of croquis, it was amazing for 14-year-old me to see. I looked over all the fashion schools in Southern California, but of course I already knew FIDM was the best. And so FIDM became my number one choice.
Describe your entrance project. I put together my different collections I've created along with the original sketches and the process to make them. I put these together in a presentation that I designed to match the aesthetic of my collections. I showed the dancewear line I created for OC Fashion Week, and the original collection of my company, Dark Rabbit Dancewear. I also included sketches and designs of pieces I plan to make in the future for the next runway show, which I'm super excited about.
What do you hope to learn at FIDM? I hope to work to become a master at my art, to really take my skills to the next level. I so look forward to learning from all the amazing teachers and to be surrounded by students who are motivated and passionate about the same thing I am. I want to be able to use my skills that I learn at FIDM to be really successful in the future, whether it be with business, marketing, or design. Because it's learning a lot that helps us go far, and FIDM is the best place to do that.
Follow Rowan's journey on Instagram @rowanwindhamburke