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New Hampshire Fashion Designers Make 'Olympic Sprint' To Rio

Click photos for slideshow.

For the last few months, Laura McCarthy has been preparing to put a lifetime of training on display before an international audience in Rio de Janeiro—home of this year’s summer Olympics.  No, McCarthy is not an athlete. She’s a fashion designer. And today – a collaboration she’s been working on for months will be draped on a Brazilian model, and strutted down a runway in Rio.

It all started when a San Francisco fashion show producer told a Brazilian fashion show producer to check out some colorful dresses made in an unlikely place: New Hampshire. That’s when Laura McCarthy and collaborator, Harry Umen got the invitation to show their new collection on the Teatro Fashion Mall runway in Rio on day four of the summer Olympics.

Lately, McCarthy says, she’s been pulling 12 hour days.

The Olympic Circus Fashion Show is put on by a company called Moda-Couture. It’s not officially part of the Olympics. But the promise to an Olympic games host country is innumerable tourists with deep pocketbooks: hotels, shops, restaurants, and performers, and yes, even fashion designers are eager to capitalize on all the action.

Umen says he hopes  this trip to Rio can help him and McCarthy launch their collaboration as a commercial line of clothing.

The collaboration works like this. Umen designs the prints and orders the fabric. McCarthy designs and sews the clothes. For some items, the pattern on the fabric comes from one of Umen’s photographs, manipulated on a computer and printed on massive industrial printers.  

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