K-Middy, Alexa Chung, Taylor Swift and Whitney Port are all Rebecca Taylor fans
We’ve always thought we’d LOVE New Zealand-born New York-based designer Rebecca Taylor, but meeting her yesterday to talk through her holiday collection it became official – Grazia's got a girl crush. The 40 year old mother-of-three is as divine as her clothes are gorgeous – and after years of living in the UK when she was a kid, she’s got a killer Brit sense of humour, too. In the past few months her profile has upped in this country because of Kate Middleton choosing a blue tweed past-season skirt suit for the Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race, but she’s been a A-list fixture in the wardrobes of SJP and Alexa Chung for yonks. Naturellement, it wouldn’t be a good Grazia hook-up without a little Q&A…
Grazia Daily: Have you always been interested in fashion?
Rebecca Taylor: In New Zealand you had to be quite resourceful. There weren't tons of fashion stores, so I always used to customise and make a lot of my own clothes. I decided you don't have to be rich to look good! At one point I was obsessed with David Bowie's red stilettos but could I find a pair? No! So I bought a pair of bridal white courts, painted them with nail varnish and had to keep topping them up all evening as they kept chipping!
And how did you get into design school?
I left school at fifteen and was kicked out of a convent school for wearing makeup and doing my hair with lots of hair gel like Simon Le Bon. Well, it was the eighties! I was originally studying costume design but then moved over to fashion and overnight my life changed. I didn't realise at the time that it could be my future, but I had been making my own clothes for so long.
What was your aim when you first went to New York for work?
I left New Zealand three days after I graduated design school. I was actually on my way to Paris with my boyfriend when I came to the states. I was really young and green when I moved to NYC and I think that allowed me to take risks without over analysing them. And the rest is history….
When was the first moment where you thought ‘this could be something big’?
I think there were a lot of moments, but being nominated for the Swarovski Young Designer Award by the CFDA was definitely a big one.
How does it feel when you see someone like SJP or Alexa Chung rock up in a Rebecca Taylor piece?
It’s really exciting to see celebrities that are style icons like SJP or Alexa wear Rebecca Taylor, but I still get just as excited when I see women on the street in Rebecca Taylor. Kirstin Dunst really gets the brand, she's got that ironic feminine and boyish fashion mix going on.
Would you ever go up to someone on the street and say 'that's my collection!'?
No, I'm so shy!
What do you think the effect has been after Kate Middleton wore a skirt suit of yours? Did you see her as a Rebecca Taylor kind of girl beforehand?
The response from the press and consumer has been amazingly positive. I have always loved Kate Middleton, in fact as soon as she came on the scene I said 'I want to dress her'. She is very much the RT woman - sophisticated, modern and smart. The pieces she wore [the blue tweed skirt suit] were from a previous season but there will still some online - they sold out within minutes and even anything similar sold out quickly. It's crazy!
Do you have an all-time favourite piece?
A cotton eyelet Victorian-esque blouse from a few seasons ago, sort of quintessential Rebecca Taylor.
What is the next step for your business? Is there anything left that you feel you want to conquer?
Yes, I feel there is so much room for opportunity within different categories for the brand - I would love to do swim and lingerie.
Yes please! So, if you weren’t a fashion designer, what do you think you’d be doing?
A make-up artist if my hands weren’t so shaky!