Having just opened her first store on Madison Avenue, across the street from The Carlyle, a glossy space filled with temptations, Tanya Taylor now has both up- and downtown cred. She also has a spring collection that will work in many different zip codes.
Once synonymous with pretty, somewhat ladylike printed dresses, which are, and will always remain, a core product for the brand, Taylor has convincingly evolved and expanded her offering. She arrived at this point by putting in the work; traveling to American cities, visiting stores, helping fit customers, and listening and acting on their feedback. “I’m obsessed with asking about their lives,” the designer said. What she discovered is that the customer is interested in what she is as well, which is developing “a uniform in a creative way.” This type of uniform has nothing to do with brass buttons, epaulets, or conformity, but it is something that makes the wearer feel good, and somehow “right” for the occasion. There might not be hard and fast rules in fashion today—Glamour’s “Dos And Donts” column is a thing of the past—but many women are still looking for guidance about how to put things together. (Hence, the power of influencers.)
Taylor, who for the past few seasons has styled her lookbooks, has started meeting that need by creating one-and-done pieces that look like they are separates. A great example of this for spring was a sleeveless striped knit (oriented on a slant) with an attached pleated skirt. Layering is another of the designer’s tricks; for spring she offered many lovely variations on the corset top. There were tube-shaped ones in denim (natural and indigo) that she showed over a print. There was a zip-front number that flares a bit at the hips; more extravagant were the beaded corselets (with and without straps) that can be hooked entirely, or partially, closed. As Taylor explained that she had incorporated impressions brought back from an art-filled trip to Japan, this viewer couldn’t help but read the lilac corselet in the first look as a relative of an obi.
Refreshingly, the designer wasn’t literal with her inspirations. Everything “had an element of surprise in Japan,” she noted, “which brought out more of that in me. I spent a lot of time this season thinking about unexpected layering, but also how to bring out some embroideries and some details and some three-dimensionality in what we are creating; and then for color, just how to really keep it fresh and surprising and bright.” This far-flung journey seems to have brought the designer, who wear tests her work, in even closer touch with her collection, and the customer is sure to sense that.