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Sanguine Launches Fashion House
Published Monday, March 12, 2018

Laura Coulter McCarthy and Harry Umen with one of their designs. Photo by Christine Carignan.

New York, Milan, Paris—these are the meccas of the fashion world. Manchester does not exactly spring to mind as a place to launch a new fashion venture. Yet Harry Umen and Laura Coulter McCarthy think the mills of Manchester, with their history for apparel manufacturing, is the perfect place for their new business, Sanguine.

Umen, an award-winning designer and professor of design and digital media at Southern NH University, established one of the first academic desktop publishing programs in New England in the 1980s.

“I was always interested in abstraction,” Umen says. “Early on I was interested in photo mechanical processes in design.” But he didn’t dip his toe into the world of clothing design until he helped Angela Chang create a Firefly dress made with LED lights for the Descience fashion show at MIT's Media Lab in 2014. From there, he became fascinated with digital dye-sublimation printing, which allows high-resolution photographs to be printed on fabric.  

Dye sublimation inks produce vibrant, permanent colors, Umen says. “The details are high resolution with sharp edges,” he says. “I am able to leverage photographs to produce textile prints that can go in many different directions.” His textile work landed him an invitation to participate in the Moda-Couture Olympiad Circus Fashion Show in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics. But he needed a partner who could transform his textiles into fashion. After one partner dropped out, he happened to meet McCarthy, a professor at Mt. Ida College in Massachusetts and a wedding dress designer, through the NH Creative Club.

McCarthy agreed to design a collection of mini-dresses for the Rio show using Umen’s digital prints of venetian blinds to create abstract designs. “We came up with a collection. We brought 14 looks to Rio,” he says. “They got a strong response.” When they returned from Rio, McCarthy suggested they do another show and form a business venture. Thus, Sanguine launched in January 2017. In October, the duo showcased a collection for “Out of the Woods,” a fundraising fashion show to benefit Hope for NH Recovery. The event raised $35,000 for the addiction recovery center.

Left: A piece entitled "Spring" shown on the runway. Photo: Harry Umen, Model: NEMG; Stylist: Chill Spa Right: The original pattern used in the design.


For “Out of the Woods,” the duo created pieces that reflected the journey from the onset of addiction to the process of recovery, moving from dark pieces with a woods motif into more colorful, floral pieces, representing the seeds of a new life blossoming.  

McCarthy designed and assembled the entire line of garments and describes her design aesthetic as “athleisure sportswear with an urban sensibility.”

“I create comfortable clothing that is attractive to a range of women,” McCarthy says. “Art and design co-exist. Design is intended to make life better and easier.”

Sanguine capelet and leggings. Photo: Harry Umen, Model: Hailey Bonczar; Stylist: Chill Spa.

Now the challenge is to create garments that can be mass produced. Umen says the process of making the photo prints is expensive. “We’ve agreed it can’t be the platform on which the business is launched. It has to be more than prints,” Umen says, though Sanguine does market a line of leggings with abstract prints taken from his photography. Sanguine is planning a show for late 2018, designing fashions for each season. For more information, visit sanguine.style.

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