Let’s start at the beginning, how did you two meet?
Hillary Taymour: We met on Craigslist. I had done one or two seasons of my bag line and Charlie was my intern. He wanted to learn how to make patterns and I still have never taught him.
Charlie Engman: Yeah, I moved to New York and I was like, I want to build some skills, so let me try to see if I can find some way to meet people and maybe make some money or figure something out.
HT: Charlie was like, ‘oh, this is my work,’ and he had these really weird college selfie mirror nudes, all random body contortions. I was like, ‘Why don’t you take pictures of fashion things?’ So I was the first fashion-thing photo Charlie ever took. We did a lookbook and we were in Las Vegas for a tradeshow and Urban Outfitters was like, ‘who took these photos?’ and then they sent him to Iceland the next week to do the Urban Outfitters catalog.
CE: Yeah. This was when they had these really fun catalogs where they would send people to various fun destinations and do these sort of friends-hanging-out-in-cool-clothes kind of catalogs. I did a bunch of those and that was sort of the start of my commercial career as a fashion visual person.
So how did the idea for the book come about?
HT: I had lunch with Jefferson Hack, and he said, ‘Here’s Charles [Miers, the Rizzoli publisher], you should do a book.’
Did you know right away you were going to do a chronological history of Collina Strada?
CE: I think for a while we thought we should mix everything up. We’re maximalists obviously, and we love to be messy in a very specific type of joyful way, so at first we thought it would be just that: an explosion of randomness—this is everything. But then we realized that it was a really nice opportunity—just like we had during the pandemic—to give people another way to understand the foundations of what we’re trying to communicate with the brand, and the mechanics of how it works and also see the growth of it. So I thought it made the most sense to just do it in a very linear, chronological way, and then within that, be messy and complex. Also we thought that people would probably have a nonlinear relationship to the book where you just kind of scroll through it and whatever catches your eye, you stop there and then maybe you go back a few pages to understand what you’re seeing or you go forward if it compels you to see what’s next. I wanted a book that anytime you opened it, it would give you something juicy.