Sunday, June 19, 2011

Grace, Glamour and Girl Talk with New Zealand Designer Rebecca Taylor

- first published in Maniac Magazine May 2011

With a romantic, but edgy sensibility Rebecca Taylor has charmed celebrities, boutiques and department stores with her classic, but youthful style. For this journalist she was also a much needed smile during the stress and party scene at New York Fashion Week.

I was five months pregnant when I first met Rebecca at an after party for her Fall 2010 collection. Because of the celebrity popularity of her runway show that year I was shut out of the presentation, however, the organizers let me attend the after-party across the street from the tents. I felt like Humpty Dumpty standing next to Carmen Electra who looked at me and asked for approval of her pony-tailed hair before greeting the press. I said, caught off guard, “It’s a great hawk. It’s you.”

Although I hadn’t prepared an interview I got in line to talk with Rebecca. Describing Rebecca as lovely doesn’t justify her calm and collected demeanor amongst the melee around her. When it was my turn she eagerly told me about her twin daughters and son, and how she would love to be able to design a children’s line. As a mother she is often inspired by how excited her children get about fashion and colors.

After studying fashion in New Zealand she came to New York with little money, but lots of moxie. Her talents eventually landed her at Cynthia Rowley where she worked for six years before her first runway show debut in 1999 with her namesake company. Her name is now synonymous with established celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Uma Thurman, Cate Blanchett, Beyonce and Kate Winslet as well as new faces like Lauren Conrad, Taylor Swift, Kristen Bell and Whitney Port. However, glamour and glitz is far from the laid back chic identity that the Rebecca Taylor brand embodies. It is exactly what the famous and fashionable wear when they are appearing as normal people instead of characters in a drama or show.

The second time I met her was for the Spring 2011 collection. I had brought my baby to Fashion Week because I was breast feeding and I decided he was the best accessory a mom could have. Not! I remembered all his baby gear but in my haste forgot to put my garment bag, containing carefully choreographed outfits, in my suitcase. I looked like a baggy housewife when I showed up for Rebecca’s after-party at a swanky glass roofed nightclub. This time when I went to interview her, ready with my recorder, the batteries popped out as I again regarded how calm she was amongst the cacophony of conversations surrounding her.

“You must be tired,” I muttered looking for the batteries.

“No, not at all. Do I look tired?” She replied.

“That must be me. I should have left the babe at home.” As I was fumbling for my batteries I noticed her sparkly blue oxfords at the end of her casual jeans; comfort and shine. I regarded that meeting as another testimony to her good manners and gracious sentiment in everything she does.
That inspiration is easy to see in her vintage floral prints with prairie sleeves emboldened with rich colors and beaded bursts. Inspired by pretty things, she creates looks perfect for an urban garden party; they are playful designs with a sophisticated air.

“I like to design clothing that women can wear and feel good in. The Rebecca Taylor girl knows pretty, but she is not overly precious. I design with that girl in mind.” Rebecca said after her recent Fall 2011 runway presentation. This you she forwent the parties, but made time to answer questions from me.

For this season she looked for patterns that reflected her sentiment. She explained, “This season I was inspired by Ross Bleckner’s paintings, blurred images and sparkling lights.” The star bursts of color and striations of tones are reflected perfectly in the textiles she created for her separates and frocks.

Common to her collections is universal neutrality that she applies to her style compositions that gives her artistic interpretations a wider brush with consumers. The pieces easily fit into any wardrobe. “I feel there are no real cardinal rules when it comes to fashion. I think women should have fun with fashion. I love camels and grays. They are easy to wear and look great when paired with bold colors or patterns.”

Although, my disheveled chic style may be a far cry from the posture of Rebecca Taylor, her collections are always filled with wearable flirty, but refined designs that any woman, including me, can appreciate and wear with delight. America’s star Kiwi designer earned her sparkle by striking a chord that resonates in all women. Her designs, much like herself, are graceful, flirty, and simply pretty.

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