Meet U.Va. Grad Kim Dylla, Heavy Metal Seamstress

Since graduating from the University of Virginia in 2005, Kim Dylla has done a lot of things: played music, helped build a digital re-creation of ancient Rome and, most recently, launched a business creating custom-made clothing for rock and metal bands ranging from Journey to Machine Head.

She recently answered a few questions about her time at U.Va. and her clothing venture, Kylla Custom Rock Wear.

Q: What was your major and when did you graduate from U.Va.?

A. I majored in studio art with a minor in computer science. I was an Echols Scholar. I graduated in 2005, but I did a year post-baccalaureate fellowship with the Aunspaugh program in the art department.

Q: After graduation you also worked in digital humanities at U.Va.’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, or IATH. Are there any creative similarities between what you did then and what you do now?

A. I think the creative similarities between my two careers lie in the ability to integrate skillsets from multiple seemingly juxtaposed fields. At IATH, we merged the worlds of computer science and classical archaeology. With Kylla Custom Rock Wear, I tie in skills from the fashion industry and the music industry. I still use the Web design and Web programming skills directly in my business now as well.

Q: Tell us about the Rome project you worked on at IATH. 

A. “Rome Reborn” is a large 3-D scholarly model of the entire city of ancient Rome at the period of Constantine, the height of its civic development. Its purpose was to be a visual knowledge representation for all of the archaeological data present. It was a challenge technically because of the sheer amount of 3-D data we were dealing with and trying to render all of that in real time and securely to protect intellectual property.

I worked mainly with integrating the entire model and developing the various real-time display interfaces we used, from OpenSceneGraph at the beginning to IBM iRT, to Mental Images's Reality Server, to Unity.

Q: Now you make custom clothing for rock and metal bands at Kylla Custom Rock Wear. What’s your favorite place in Charlottesville to find materials?

A. Goodwill and Salvation Army, I hoard salvaged leather and denim from thrift stores!

Q: What advice would you give to a current U.Va. student interested in this kind of career? 

A. Make yourself a Renaissance person – learn lots about technology, business, art, manufacturing skills, languages, etc. Most importantly, teach yourself to focus, work hard, manage your time and network with other humans. Always be open to new ideas, partnerships and possibilities.

Q: Favorite building on Grounds?

A. I spent most of my time at the Digital Media Lab at Clemons Library and the basement labs in Olsson Hall. The art department was in temporary trailers for most of my time there. I think my favorite place on Grounds to study, though, was the old graveyard near old dorms. How Goth of me.

Q: What’s next for you?

A. I’m in Europe all summer networking at the big music festivals to try to see what new clients we can dress! I hope that by next year we can have a manufacturing operation off the ground to provide some high-end merchandise for our bands and partner festivals.

Media Contact

Dan Heuchert

Assistant Director of University News and Chief Copy Editor, UVA Today Office of University Communications