Charlotteans are well acquainted with Barbara McKay thanks to her 40-plus-year broadcasting career with local television station WBTV. Viewers have watched Barbara host a variety of segments including interviews with celebrities and cooking demonstrations as recently as this July when she was featured on the channel’s 70th-anniversary celebration programming. Barbara has further emerged as a lifestyle influencer with her blog, SimplyBarbaraMcKay.com.
In our interview, we focused on Barbara’s lifelong appreciation for the art of fashion design and how she makes a deep connection with certain fashion designers.
An Innate Sense of Style
Barbara affirms she was born with a passion for fashion. Her mother recognized it and nurtured it by creating handmade fashions for Barbara inspired by the looks she saw in magazines.
Barbara’s mother reinforced her appreciation for clean lines, dressing her daughter in hats, gloves and tailored coats from the time she was a toddler through high school. Her mother had so instilled a love of fashion that after graduating college, Barbara asked her to invest in a clothing store she wished to open.
Barbara details her astonishment at her mother’s career advice: “She laughed and said, ‘You don’t want to run a store. You want to be able to meet designers and have a store as your closet. I think you should do TV.’ Then I laughed because I had no TV training or experience. She stood over me and made me call personnel at WBTV, and the rest is my 41-year TV show history. Moms know best.”
Laura Vinroot and Capitol Boutique
In 1998, Laura Vinroot Poole created Capitol, her vision for a women’s clothing boutique that has made Charlotte one of the premier places in the world to shop for designer clothes. Acquiescing to repeated requests from her extensive clientele, Laura opened the only other Capitol location in Los Angeles' prestigious Brentwood Country Mart.
Barbara credits Laura with “helping West Coast people love color, instead of wearing all black all the time. ... She helps us evolve, stay young and wear what makes us all our best. Nikki Takemura Baber and all of the talented stylists at Capitol choose perfect new pieces to complement our existing wardrobes to keep us fashionable yet true to our own personal style.”
Laura shares Barbara’s ongoing commitment to head-to-toe fashion without crossing the line into costume. Barbara is also passionate about seeing fashion as an art form, choosing designs based on the connection she feels with the individual designer, their personal background stories, what inspires them to choose the fine fabrics they work with, bright color palettes and clothing lines that offer classic clothing choices with an artistic twist.
To achieve her flawless look, Barbara has relied on her inherited good genes and proper medical care. The latter became especially important following an accidental fall in early 2018. A timely intervention by famed cosmetic dentist and great friend Dr. Ross Nash in consultation with Dr. Raymond Haigney resulted in the appropriate recalibration and realignment of Barbara’s teeth. This was required to address the changes to her mouth the accident and the subsequent jaw surgery caused.
In her explanation of why she cares so much more about the thought process behind the creation of each garment than the label sewn inside, Barbara provides examples of aspirational fashion designers such as designer Dovima, creator of a treasured hand-painted coat Barbara owns. Other pieces in her collection are by Barbara Tfank, a designer who often designs bespoke pieces for royalty but derives the most pleasure and highest degree of artistic fulfillment from working with everyday people who appreciate her art form.
Barbara agreed to do a photo layout to accompany this article and handpicked the Duke Mansion as the setting.
“I chose The Duke Mansion as the setting for this photo shoot because this beautiful, historic landmark has been the location of some of my most favorite times in Charlotte from visiting when it was a private residence to attending many special occasions, including my daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner. The gardens, the rooms and the staff are all magnificent. It symbolizes the grace, elegance and Southern hospitality of our city that I love. I am so proud to make South Charlotte my home.”
Among the designers featured in the photo layout is jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth, who has a store-in-store at Capitol’s Brentwood location in Los Angeles. Also featured are Of Rare Origin, founded by a mother and daughter team who have achieved renown for their Aviary Collection, a series featuring stylized bird motifs inspired by memories of the family matriarch feeding birds crumbs left from breakfast each morning. It is this type of inspiration drawn from personal experience that Barbara naturally gravitates to in choosing her fashions.
For more information on Capitol clothing and events where you can meet designers, visit Shop-Capitol.com.