Fashion serves multiple functions: as a source for spectacle, inspiration, and, maybe most importantly, family. That sense of community felt among those working in various corners of the fashion industry, especially during New York Fashion Week at countless shows and presentations, makes everything worth it. And as designer Hillary Taymour of contemporary label Collina Strada can attest, her ”family” acts as the perfect support system.
I meet Taymour just ahead of fashion week at her South Williamsburg apartment for an intimate dinner party, where I get to preview her spring 2016 collection ahead of her presentation at Milk Studios, held earlier this month. Born and raised in LA, Taymour is the kind of easygoing ”cool girl” who can pull off wearing a fitted, gauzy black jumpsuit while lounging on her couch with friends. This group, made up of models, DJs, and photographers is the kind of clique you’d hope to run with in New York: perfectly messy hair, just the right burgundy lip shade, and an ease that is non-intimidating as they simultaneously distance themselves from the rest. With an anthropological spirit, I venture inward to discover the dynamics of this crew.
”We met through friends a few years ago, I don’t really remember how but I’ve been going to her presentations every season,” says DJ May Kwok, who is also wearing all black without a shred of pretension. ”I would wear this every day,” she says holding up a boxy black leather T-shirt from Taymour’s spring offering. ”It’s all just so easy to wear, but with an edge.”
Image: black bridesmaid dresses
”We met on Craigslist,” says photographer and one of Taymour’s closest friends Charlie Engman. ”She was my first job in New York. We met at a café in Williamsburg and she hired me to work for her on the spot.” Engman, who has a degree in Japanese Studies from Oxford, now shoots Taymour’s look books and is a regular at her Brooklyn dinner parties. ”She follows her nose and has a real understanding of what’s going on,” adds Engman about the designer’s approach to Collina Strada.
”I’m a grunge kid who likes refined clothing, so I love Hillary’s line,” says DJ and mulitmedia artist Cara Stricker, with whom Taymour has collaborted musically on past projects. ”She has an instinctual, natural voice in her work, which is inspiring.”
Finally, I meet the designer, who has an innately cool, laid-back demeanor when talking me through her concept. ”I don’t want my clothes to be fussy. I like them to be natural,” she says, holding up an oversize pair of pale pink trousers which have an extra leather panel where there would normally be a side seam, creating a literal box shape. ”It’s about rethinking and reshaping normal, basic essentials but keeping them wearable.”
There’s no need to inform Taymour that she’s hit the nail on the head in terms of what today’s woman wants to wear–elevated classics and everyday staples–because she epitomizes her own customer (i.e. the girls who set trends rather than follow them). At her presentation a few days later, I find her clothes live up to her clan’s collective praise–and they all show face in support, one way or another: Kwok mingles with Taymour and model friends Abbey Lee Kershaw, Catherine McNeil, and Georgia Graham, while Stricker supplies the tunes and Engman snaps the scene. As important as talent is, it always helps to have your squad cheer you on, especially when they’re this chic.