We're always on the prowl for a fresh take on fashion — especially when it's from the lab. Say hello to Carla Cabrera, founder of The President Wears Prada, co-head of online shop ANTHOM, and cancer research scientist at D.C. Simply put, this buzz-worthy babe is quite the entrepreneur. Scientist by day, style savior by night, her resume is almost as impressive as the way she manages to masterfully wear neons without being sucked into the rainbow abyss.
TPWP's crisp photos shed light on her personal taste and in-the-know weekend afternoons, but it wasn't until she took us around the city when we saw Washington, D.C. through her perspective: As the high-stylin', art and design hotbed it really is. Come along as Carla lays down the law on the capital's hottest hoods, dopest restaurants, and top vintage digs. No guided museum tours in this girl's rundown, promise.
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Photographed by Marshall Johnson
How did you get into fashion?
"I was born in Bolivia and moved to the D.C. area with my mom and three brothers at the age of 12. I've always been a math and science nerd, but my mom helped me cultivate a love for fashion. In 2008, I started The President Wears Prada as a creative outlet for my otherwise acutely scientific life (a few months after starting a PhD program in molecular biology).
"I've now finished my PhD and am a cancer research scientist. The President Wears Prada has since grown and blossomed with the help of Marshall Johnson who elevated the blog with his design and beautiful photography. I am also the co-founder of ANTHOM, an online boutique that my partners and I have carefully curated with some amazing under-the-radar designers, exclusive collections, and pieces that make us smile and gasp."
American Apparel Unisex Denim Long Sleeve Button-Up, $64, available at American Apparel;
Gap clutch; ANTHOM blue jumpsuit, available at ANTHOM.
What are some of your style secrets?
"I don’t have a lot of money to spend on clothes, so I like to rework my pieces to make them look different. Take this jumpsuit. Right now, it has shoulder cutouts, and it’s very girly and dainty. When I put the shirt over it, the jumpsuit looks more like pants — it becomes a completely different item. I try to be creative and style clothes I already own in a new way."
How do you stay so on-point with fashion with such an intense full-time job?
"I think it’s all about time management. I have all these habits that I’ve developed from doing a PhD on how I can be really efficient in allocating my time. I’m really devoted to the blog and to fashion, but science is my first love. I think if you told me when I was 16 that this is what I would be doing at my age — and you know, maybe I’d never have free time — I would be delighted. I make it work because I love all the things I’m involved with, and I have a lot of different people to help me."
What is your on-the-clock dressing like?
"It depends on what I’m doing. If I’m on the bench doing an experiment, I have to wear a lab coat, but that’s probably only 20 to 30% of the time. I have to do a lot of writing, too. I still like to look stylish all the time, so I wear pieces that can be translated straight from the lab, and then at night, I just put on a bright blazer and heels."
Those red heels are so chic.
"I love pops of color, but also need comfort, which is why I love these heels. They're stylish, but I can walk around in them in the city. I feel like I’m always wearing these shoes for everything. As for my clothes, I'm wearing a bodycon dress whose silhouette I love, and layered a skirt over it."
Vivienne Westwood Anglomania x Melissa Lady Dragon IX Heels, available at Melissa.com; vintage Chanel bracelets.
What's your favorite neighborhood in D.C.?
"Logan Circle used to be the edgy, up-and-coming neighborhood, but now it’s become gentrified. It’s where I love to shop and where all my favorite restaurants are, and the architecture's great — there are all these beautiful tree-lined streets that have little homes. I feel like I can go to the neighborhood as an all-day destination."
Zara one shoulder top, J.Crew silk blue skirt, Felix Rey Allison Ikat Shoulder Handbag.
Okay, give us the goods: What are the best stores to hit up there?
"My favorite shops are Redeem, Treasury, and Good Wood. Redeem has an edgy vibe and sells some of my favorite independent designers, like Something Else> by Natalie Wood, Kai Aakmann, and Evil Twin among others.
"Treasury is an airy, sun-kissed boutique that has the best selection of vintage in the city including Chanel, Lanvin, and Valentino — I always find something special. It also has a jewelry line called LITHICS that has architectural rings cast in silver from salvaged molds and hand-finished in New York. Good Wood began as a furniture store but evolved into a lifestyle destination that includes perfumes, jewelry, books, and some special vintage pieces. I love shopping there for treasures and be inspired by the beautiful arrangements."
What's the last great thing you bought?
"I bought something from Redeem last Sunday after brunch with my girlfriend. It’s a simple, jersey grey top by Kai Aakmann, but it has a cage cut out pattern in the back, so I can wear it with leggings, and its basic but has that cut out. It’s my favorite new item."
Zara blazer, rag & bone Rally Army Pants, $231, available at rag & bone; ANTHOM Asymmetrical T-shirt, available at ANTHOM; Alexander Wang rope heels; One Mango Tree Trig Clutch in Herringbone, $26, available at OneMangoTree.com.
Where do you get your accessories?
"There’s a local jewelry store called She’s Unique where I get a lot of my bracelets and rings. I’m wearing a Karla Deras-designed ring with a blue stone from She's Unique. I also wear a ton of vintage accessories. I like to mix designer pieces and vintage finds along with things I find at local stores."
You always seem to infuse bright, refreshing elements into your outfits.
"I love color! It represents a lot about the way I like to dress. This outfit incorporates some things I was inspired by from runway shows. I wore this outfit to brunch with my friends — it's something different, but still comfortable and stylish."