Backstage with Rebecca Taylor

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Confession: Interviewing fashion designers can be super intimidating, especially when they’re one of the industry’s hottest names and their designs are worn by celebrities like Alexa Chung, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Emmy Rossum, Sarah Jessica Parker… and yes, even the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.

… and featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Glamour, W, Nylon, Marie Claire and InStyle magazines.

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In case you’re wondering how I felt walking into this interview… I was a little nervous. Ok, more like super nervous.

Meet fashion designer Rebecca Taylor. A New Zealander turned New Yorker. A go-getter. Big dreamer. Mother. And an unbelievably sweet and humble woman, despite being so successful in such a competitive industry.

I caught up with Taylor at Saks Fifth Avenue’s runway show for the Junior League of Boca Raton to learn more about her career, what lessons she learned along the way (hint: hard work) and what’s inspired her most recent collection…

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Me: When did you know you wanted to be a designer? Did you have an ah-hah moment? 

Taylor: It was later in life for me; around the time I was 21. Growing up in New Zealand, I didn’t have access to television shows like “Project Runway” or have social media to look up designers. Most women went to school to be secretaries, teachers or nurses. It wasn’t until I met a woman who taught me how to make patterns. She asked, “Have you thought about going to design school?” and I was like, “No, I haven’t…” I remember that exact moment thinking, “This is what I want to do.” I went home and told my parents and they were happy. They said, “Thank God! We found something for her!” I guess I was a bit of a worry for them!

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[Side note: Taylor’s unique aesthetic has been shaped by her mother, a talented seamstress who sewed children’s clothing by hand, as well as be a part of Taylor’s journey as a designer.]

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Me: I’m sure your mom was happy!

Taylor: Yes, she was. She was very involved in the business in the beginning…

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Me: As a young woman, what did you learn working in the fashion industry?

[Side note: Taylor arrived to NYC as a young woman with $600 and with blind optimism. Today, her brand is a multi-million dollar business…] 

Taylor: The fashion industry was hard. It’s even harder today. The market has become saturated with designers and large brands who sell their products at a very reasonable price. If anything, I’ve come to learn that the fashion industry has a short memory span. You can have a terrible season but you can also turn it around quickly. That’s something great. One of the beauties of my job is that I get to reinvent myself every couple of weeks.

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Me: What was it like when you first went out on your own and launched your line? Was it scary?

Taylor: I was young so I didn’t really think about how scary it was. I took things day by day, one step at a time. I never knew exactly where I was headed or where I would end up, I just knew it felt right. I knew what I had to do. It was organic for me.

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Me: How did you first start to get recognition for your designs? 

Taylor: Early on, I was nominated for the CFDA Perry Ellis Award for Emerging New Talent. That was a very exciting time for me…

Me: What’s been your proudest moment so far? 

Taylor: I borrowed some money from my father to start the company. My proudest moment in my career was when I paid him back.

[Ok, around this point in the interview – I’m like in love with how sweet Rebecca Taylor is!]

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Me: New Zealand has inspired a lot of your designs. Do you find inspiration being based in NYC?

Taylor: Living in NYC is good for the fashion industry. It’s extremely fast-paced. You’re constantly making quick decisions and reinventing yourself, which works for fashion. There’s culture, different people around you, new things – it’s pretty inspiring.

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Me: What’s the inspiration behind your most current collection? What’s the story?

[Side note: Taylor loves reading! She draws inspiration from characters in books and attaches a “story” to each collection.] 

Taylor: It was inspired by a book I read about a place where artists, intellectuals, free thinkers would gather in the early 1900’s. One of the artists would draw these beautiful botanical, floral scenes… the colors she used were also very inspiring. That was the catalyst to this collection… 

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Me: Who would you love to dress that you haven’t? 

Taylor: Twiggy! She’s so beautiful. She’s aged so gracefully… 

Me: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Taylor: My brother always says, “You’re here for a good time. Not a long time…” I believe it’s important to enjoy each and every moment.

Lastly, what are currently reading? 

Taylor: I just started Purity” by Jonathan Frazen. I recently finished “The Marriage of Opposites” by Alice Hoffman. 

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Taylor’s designs are carried in boutiques and high-end department stores, like Saks Fifth Avenue Boca Raton, all over the world, as well as in eight standalone Rebecca Taylor boutiques and their website, RebeccaTaylor.com.

Shop some of my favorite Rebecca Taylor pieces below!

Thanks for stopping by…

Xo, Stephanie

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