20 Sense

20 SENSE: Rebecca Taylor, Fashion Designer

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Rebecca Taylor is one of the few fashion designers who manages to tap into my girlier proclivities. Her ace ability to mix energetic prints with more pared-back streetwear always has me coveting a more colorful wardrobe, one that is much less dependent on white, black, and grey. And unlike the work of many designers today, her collections seem to include women more than they exclude, truly offering something for every shape and shade of woman, without sacrificing the overall brand identity. That’s a feat, for sure–and a very welcome one, at that. Originally hailing from the beaches of New Zealand, Taylor followed her early childhood dream of designing and landed in New York City, where she still lives with three too-cute-for-words kids.

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Describe your trajectory since turning 20 up until now. I boarded a plane to Paris, but made a stop in New York. I fell so in love with the energy here that I decided to stay. I worked at a Seventh Avenue designer, where I met my business partner Beth, and we started the brand together. For the first few years, it was just the two of us doing everything – packing, shipping, etc. We’re very fortunate to have sustained and grown the brand to what it is now.

What surprised you most about your twenties? What went exactly as expected? Nothing [went as expected], really! The fact that I ended up in New York at all was probably the most surprising, not to mention everything that followed!

Do you feel like you’ve found your niche or are you still searching? I think you’re not growing if you’re not still searching, whether it’s related to work, family, or life in general. We’re always trying to find that perfect balance.

What excites you more about life: the enigmatic experiences or those with extreme clarity? Probably the enigmatic. As a designer, I do have to stay on a certain schedule in the business sense, but there’s no real predicting what I will be inspired by or what will speak to me for future collections, and that’s exciting.

What did your twenties teach you about romantic love? Friendship? When I was in my twenties, my husband and I were dating and he used to fax me these quirky, cute drawings–they were his version of love letters. It taught me that love can be expressed in many forms! As far as friendship goes, I learned that the people you think will be your lifelong friends in your twenties really can and will be – I am still really close with my first NYC roommate, Gina.

What motivates you? My family, and the energy and determination of New York.

Where do you get the most inspiration? How do you snap out of a creative rut? I always say that if you can’t get inspired in New York, you can’t get inspired anywhere. The buildings, the art, the people, the music–the “everyday” things we are surrounded by here are what move me.

Biggest pet peeve about the fashion world? Favorite aspect of it? Maybe the impermanence of it all. For my last collection I was inspired by a Parisian street artist, Philippe Baudelocque, who does these amazing chalk drawings that just get washed away when it rains, which I think is an awful lot like designing a collection–you’re always thinking about the next thing before the current one has even had its moment! Sometimes it’s hard to put so much emotion and passion into a collection and then have to quickly move onto the next. But it’s a double-sided coin, because one of my favorite aspects of fashion is that it’s constantly evolving and changing. It’s a challenging but inspiring environment to be part of.

If you had to create a twenties survival kit for others what would it include? (CDs, movies, books, a type of food/drink, magazine, really anything!) Lots of David Bowie! A constant favorite. And Blondie. Just Kids by Patti Smith is a must-read for any age (Ed note: Agreed!).

Designers often talk about the girl or guy they make clothes for. If you had to describe your “muse” strictly by personality traits, what would they be? She is confident, cool and isn’t afraid to stand out.

You juggle numerous roles at once, including the lifetime gig of being a mother to three children. What are your pro-tips for staying sane while handling it all? Try to keep work separate from the rest of life as much as you can. When I get home from the office, I try to be as present as possible for my family, and put the stresses and obligations of the office on hold until the next day.

What is the best advice you could give someone just starting out who wants to follow a similar career path? Try to remember that anything is possible–we live by that sentiment in New Zealand.

Speaking of New Zealand–a place I’m dying to visit–I have to ask, how does it compare to your current home of New York? The pace of life is a lot slower, and there’s much less emphasis on material things. It’s a lovely place to take my familyto just unwind and be.

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Check out more 20 SENSE interviews here!

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