Photo by Faith Marie Lopez

Designing Her Own Story

In honor of the 10th anniversary of Sacramento Fashion Week, Sacramento365 is making it a stylish night all February long. So it only made sense to speak with one of the movers and shakers in…

In honor of the 10th anniversary of Sacramento Fashion Week, Sacramento365 is making it a stylish night all February long. So it only made sense to speak with one of the movers and shakers in Capital City’s sartorial scene, designer Karisa Gold. The Davis-born, eldest child of nine (!) is known for her Old Hollywood, sex bomb silhouettes, but the road to creating her jaw-dropping collections was anything but glamorous. Hard work, perseverance, and putting herself out there (literally and figuratively) have what have kept her dreams of producing wearable art alive.


To be frank, Karisa Gold’s story is not a traditional one. The headstrong Gemini, though creative, has a tendency to “play it safe.” While her childhood notebook sketches would foreshadow her fashion designer present, she stuck to the practical side, becoming a 911 dispatcher at the age of 19. Lucky for the Sacramento fashion community, she sought out a creative outlet to release the tension of her high-stress career. Her cosmetology school days gave her the exposure to local fashion shows and wedding shoots that encouraged her to take the plunge to sign up at the former International Academy of Design and Technology campus (IADT) in Natomas.

“The ad was so cheesy… but it was great to see a local place where I can get training for the fashion industry.” The only problem: she had no formal fashion training. “I had no idea how to sew, drape or draw technically.” The steep learning curve, however, pushed her to succeed and boosted her self-confidence; that confidence was tested by her instructor and mentor Esther Amato. Her teacher encouraged her to fly out to New York City for a weekend to land her a much-needed college internship; “I had a hard time getting in the door. (IADT didn’t have the name recognition as Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising), but I got my Haute Hippie internship on the spot!” Her time in NYC would also lead her to design showroom and fashion PR gigs.

Not letting a successful student leave her roots behind, Amato suggested Gold enter the designer showcases of Sacramento Fashion Week (it didn’t matter that Gold was still in NYC or never showcased in a fashion show!). This nudge helped birth Karisa Gold, the bonafide designer.

Photo by Faith Marie Lopez
“Walk like you have three men walking behind you.” – Oscar de la Renta


Buy 2016 new Formal evening dresses at
Photo by Faith Marie Lopez


“A Little Bit of Audrey, A Little Bit of Marilyn”

Debuting her first collection in Sacramento Fashion Week 2013, she finally made her childhood sketches a reality. Shades of black, silver, and fuchsia were the palette of her Old Hollywood collection. “I want my pieces to emulate the class of Audrey [Hepburn] with the sass of Marilyn [Monroe]. The silhouettes [I use] make you stand taller, feel magical, and more confident.” And that she has. Every piece she has created so far has been feminine, alluring, and ooze sophistication.

Her work since has gained media exposure locally (Sactown Magazine, BAY Fashion, SubMerge, Good Day Sacramento, local blogs etc.), giving the designer validation that she could produce pieces that Sacramentans appreciated.

With her 2016 Sacramento Fashion Week collection, she’s taking it a bit darker. Prints and simple geometries will replace her previous lavender, gold, and romantic accents, partially due to the fact that her work will be showing in this year’s Fall/Winter fashion showcase.


wedding dress sketch
Photo by Faith Marie Lopez
“I want my pieces to emulate the class of Audrey with the sass of Marilyn.”


Making a Workspace in Sac a Reality

While fashion talent and artistic vision exist in Sacramento, as obviously seen by the steady growth of the Sacramento Fashion Week, according to Karisa Gold, the Sacramento fashion community needs a bit more “oomph.” The region lacks spaces where designers can create and show their works. “A lot of people are slaving away, sewing on their personal machines…and in tight spaces.” This pressing need was also felt by fellow IADT alumnus Kimberly Dawn. The two partnered up to launch a fashion incubator.

Motivated by Downtown Sacramento Partnership’s Calling All Dreamers competition, a retail business competition, the two whipped up a business plan in just three weeks. “We had this vision of a space that would include a designer workspace, a photo studio, a showroom, and have a sizeable conference space. We dreamed REAL big.” Though the pair didn’t win the $100,000 start-up package, their idea found its soil to grow. A “phase one” version of their vision, The Workspace, located on 717 K St, overlooks the St. Rosa Lima Park, the home of the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink.

The two plan to hopefully double the space and offer other local designers access to studio space for a monthly fee. “We created the space with the intention of helping others succeed.”

Elegant Formal Dresses
Photo by Faith Marie Lopez

Fast Facts About Karisa Gold:

  • Remember the Sacramento Mountain Lions? The designer “ra-ra”-ed on the sidelines as a cheerleader.
  • Gold defines fashion as wearable self-expression. It says something about you…and goes with you everywhere.
  • Her perfect dress silhouette is a quasi-trumpet, stating “it’s shapely and accentuates the curves of a woman’s body.”
  • According to Gold, the three luxuries that every woman should have are (1) a staple piece of clothing that makes a woman feel her most radiant. (Anything really, as long as it oozes confidence), (2) a good pair of shoes, and (3) the perfect shade of lipstick.

Design Your Date Night:

Since February is also the month of love, we asked the designer what makes for the perfect date night.

What to Wear: “On a date night, I like to think practically. I’d wear something casual, cute. Think nice pants with a dressy top. To add some height, I’ll wear my go-to black heels!”

What to Do: “I swear I haven’t had a night out since the birth of my son, Hudson! To be honest, I’d go to any place that’s lively…a live music spot. I’d love to meet up with my friends, too. And prosecco must be involved!”



Keep Up With Karisa Gold:

Karisa Gold Collection:
Website/ Facebook

The Workspace Website

Interview by Sacramento365’s Content & Social Media Coordinator, Jamila B. Khan.