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Taylor is perhaps best known for her cheery, colorful prints (namely her florals) and her inventive takes on classic dress silhouettes. It’s gained her fans like Michelle Obama, Kristen Bell, Aidy Bryant, and Gigi Hadid. Her fall 2018 collection reads a little differently, though: Don’t be surprised by the bolder colors and sleeker cuts—the signature florals remain, but the Canadian designer admits that the way she edits her collections has shifted in a post-2016 landscape.
“We’ll be designing a bunch of pieces, and we’ll just get rid of all the fluff—like all the things that would make life challenging, or would be too tricky, or would not make [someone] look great,” she explains. “We’re cutting out all of those superfluous ideas and being so clean and focused on a strong message.”
In 2018 she sees women being attracted to styles that are less frilly and more streamlined, as they strive to match their outward appearance match how they feel inside. “It’s a bit more of a power feeling in the silhouettes, and I think it has to do with your mentality: If you want to speak more concisely, dress more concisely.” That translates to prints too—her new ones, she says, are “a bit tougher.”
Like many of her peers, Taylor was very much pro-Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. She for her campaign, becoming one of the first brands to back the Democratic nominee publicly. “I think that was risky,” she says in retrospect, noting that she got some feedback from clients who “are in more Republican states…that don’t necessarily want to look at fashion and think about politics.”
“I feel so passionate about voicing my opinion, and my team is 100 percent on the same page,” she says. “We’re an almost all-female team, and before the [election, we were all so passionate about Hillary [Clinton]; afterward, we constantly talk about what’s happening politically in the office…. Being silent about it [would] feel like we weren’t being true to what we believe in. Although it might alienate some of our customers, which has been something to think about, the risk doesn’t outweigh the importance of saying what you believe.”
In the almost two years since the election, Taylor has noticed that separation between “just fashion” and politics blurs across the board, something she credits to “the conversation [turning] to more [women’s rights], a belief in what’s fair, and how to treat people,” as opposed to standing behind a specific candidate. This also means she gets fewer negative comments.
As a business owner, Taylor is in an interesting position: Her line is carried nationwide at retailers like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, has styles that , and is priced mostly under $800, which means that it reaches a lot of people. That means that her audience, like the country, is divided when it comes politically.
“We have 50 percent of the population that would agree with us politically, and 50 percent that wouldn’t,” she says. “When we do trunk shows, it’s really different climates: I’m speaking to a group in Texas, let’s say, about how my proudest moment is dressing Michelle Obama and going to the White House, and it’s not taken as gracefully as if you were talking in New York.”
She thinks there’s probably a group of customers who has decided to simply ignore the brand it starts talking politics, on social media or through partnerships like the one it had with the Clinton campaign. That’s par for the course when you’re a designer that casts a wider net, as Taylor has; what she describes as the common thread, though, between “a Michelle Obama and a Taylor Swift and a Beyoncé”—and all the other women who have ever worn her garments—is a sense of optimism.
“There’s something about our clothes that I choose and design based on it making me feel happier,” she explains. “That doesn’t have to have an age on it. It doesn’t have a body shape. We want to touch so many different kinds of women and focus on it being a positive message.”
“I feel a lot of responsibility to be a female designer in 2018,” Taylor admits. “It can sometimes challenge me creatively. It can be hard to know what’s going on in the world and then also be inspired. But I think I can get past that because I realize how important it is to be a role model, to be strong, and to stay true to my gut.” Through her collections, she wants “to represent what a modern 2018 woman wants to wear, what kind of brand she wants to believe in, and give her value in her life.”
Even in 2018 there still aren’t that many female fashion designers represented in the New York fashion industry—a fact that Taylor laments. However, she says that that void has created “a really strong connection when [female designers] see each other”: “There’s appreciation—I feel honored to be a part of a group of women who are still continuing to push.” She brings up how, when she runs into a fellow female designer, “there’s just something there, when you’re both designer clothes that really represent what you want women to wear…. It’s so simple, but it feels more and more important now.”
“When I started out in the industry, I was extremely nervous and always intimidated by every event I went to,” she recalls. “Personally, I’ve grown out of that, but I’m also really inspired by what I see other female designers doing in New York and everywhere else. It pushes me. It makes me feel like I can do it too.”
Liang is a designer who's come up in the Instagram age, and her fun, playful, upbeat pieces are made to be filtered, posted, and shared. (It’s no surprise, then, that social stars like Kendall Jenner, Alexa Chung, and Elsa Hosk are fans of her colorful furs, embellished denim, and deconstructed shirting.) “It’s nice to bring a little bit of happiness to somebody via these clothes,” she says. “I love it when people try on a jacket and they smile—I’m like, Job done.”
For the New York native, Parsons-educated designer, and CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, the clothing that bears her name has always felt deeply personal. “It’s such an emotional thing to be designing and wearing these clothes,” she says. “I’m basically making clothes for myself and my friends—and the day that’s no longer true is maybe when I should stop designing.”
“Being a woman designing clothes has 100 percent to do with everything in my life, and 100 percent to do with the way I work,” she says—though this doesn’t translate to slogans or political references, as we’ve seen in other contemporary collections that explore these themes more literally. But it’s because Liang doesn’t think there need to be—it’s up to the wearer to inhabit the clothes and fill them with their intentions and beliefs. “I just make the clothes and leave it up to the audience to look at [them] and understand,” she says.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever been that political in my work,” Liang continues. “I think it gets personal for me too because I feel so strongly about things and my work is so messy and complicated that I almost just want my work to be my work.”
Though Liang hesitates to assign a deeper meaning to the clothing she creates, her inspiration and muse is crystal clear to her: “My woman—or the woman who I aspire to be—is this strong, amazing, beautiful person who’s outspoken, who stands up for what she believes in, even if that doesn’t translate directly into the clothes.”
One thing you can trace through her collections, though, is a cohesive narrative: She doesn’t start a new season with a fresh slate, but rather continues to build on the story and wardrobe she’s been telling over time. “It’s never a new start—it’s always evolving from the last season. My inspiration and my muse never change.” She always goes back to her family and friend group, to the people she sees on the street, to her neighborhood (Manhattan's Lower East Side), to her upbringing, exploring all the different ways these intersect and complement each other. (Liang is a Gemini, she notes, and that duality comes up a lot in her work.)
Even though still in the early stages of her career (her namesake brand’s first official presentation was for fall 2014), Liang has been carving out a space for herself, on her own terms, taking an intuitive approach to building a business and rooting her work in her own personal connection to womanhood. It’s not only the first thing that comes up when she puts pen to paper, but also what she considers the driving force behind it all. “I think it’s such an honor to be designing clothes for women,” she says.
Comey didn’t hesitate to involve her brand—launched in 2001—in the Resistance, although it wasn't something she had foreseen happening, necessarily. “I didn’t think I needed to be a political person,” she says, in retrospect. “Now I have an opportunity—or even maybe a more of a responsibility—to use my voice, get involved in the conversation, and raise the questions.”
The New York–based designer describes the 2016 election as “a bit of a wake-up call,” one that opened her eyes to the racist, xenophobic undertones that are very much present in American society. The 2017 Women’s March was a real turning point: Comey was one of the first designers to not only openly support the Resistance but become involved: She paid for transportation for her staff to go to Washington, D.C. from New York; she donated half of the proceeds of any sales that day to Planned Parenthood; she designed a jacket for the occasion. (She first made them at the request of a friend, but Comey is now producing them and donating part of the proceeds to Downtown for Democracy.)
As this was all happening, Comey also started making calls to colleagues in an effort to get the industry involved, partly because she saw the value of using fashion as a way to reach across the aisle. “I was particularly disturbed by the percentage of white women that voted for Trump,” she recalls. “I thought maybe there’s a way we can reach those women via fashion.”
The Women’s March—and all the follow-up conversations to stem from it—also led Comey to a deeper reflection of how fashion has contributed to the patriarchy through its portrayal of women in advertising and magazines, through the culture and image shapers hired behind the scenes, and through other perpetuations of gender inequity in creative industries. “I feel a little bit sad when I think about how I spent my whole life with all of these images created by men, retouched by men, produced by men…. What if the same opportunities were given to women?” she wonders. Another example: “Recently I went to look for a photographer for a shoot. I looked at every top agency that I [could], and the percentage of women photographers represented is tiny.”
In Comey’s decade-plus in fashion, her collections have developed a cult following, thanks to their smart, thoughtful design and lightning focus on utility and ease. “I spend a lot of time thinking about our customers and what they’re doing, where they’re going, and how they want to feel,” she says. It’s been that way since the beginning, “because that’s the fuel that creates process for me.” The women she dresses are aspirational, in every sense of the word: They dress well, they’re impressive, and they have a point of view. (Some of the brand’s most well-known supporters include Rashida Jones, Sandra Berhnhard, Gaby Hoffmann, Busy Phillips, and Maya Rudolph.)
She envisions her customer as someone who’s “so busy, traveling all the time, working in this male-dominated world where they’re really successful,” and tries to answer a simple question: “What do they want to feel like at that moment?”
“I think that the women who are my customers are independent, strong-willed, and they’re not coming to shop from me because some celebrity did,” Comey continues. “They have their own point of view, and their lives are complicated. I’m really just trying to constantly work on making pieces for that lifestyle.”
Her approach to design may not have wavered in light of recent events, but Comey admits that recently she’s found herself gravitating to certain silhouettes she hasn’t explored that much in her work: skirts. (If you know her iconic Legion pant, you know this is a pretty surprising development.) “I don’t know if this is a seasonal thing or how this relates to the environment…but I’m starting to think a little bit more on the usefulness of femininity, and how there’s something important about it in my mind that I’m exploring,” she teases, in regard to her fall 2018 collection. “I’m finding it attractive to think about things that are traditionally specific to women—skirts, dresses, softer things.”
Looking forward, Comey figures that the most impactful way to contribute is “to focus on what I love doing,” while always being mindful of how this intersects with issues of representation: "taking care of my company and my customers, making sure we’re all on the same page, doing the best we can to promote and be true to our core values, thinking creatively, using [diverse] images, questioning all of those things.”
“There’s tons to do and keep doing,” Comey says. “And do better.”
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Source : https://www.glamour.com/story/women-fashion-designers-new-york-fashion-week-2018