Cynthia Rowley is an American fashion designer based in the West Village of New York City. Rowley is a native of Barrington, Illinois, an affluent northwestern suburb of Chicago. She is one of three children born to Ed Rowley, a former science teacher, and his wife, Clementine, who was a painter.
Rowley made her first dress at age seven, and came from an artistically inclined family – her grandparents included the designer of the Pabst Blue Ribbon logo and a painter. She graduated from Barrington High School in 1976, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1981.
Rowley was kicked out of her junior year art show at SAIC because her use of wings in her design was seen as over the top. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Rowley said that Marshall Field’s had bought her first collection while she was still a student at SAIC.