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Tanya Taylor Is Bringing Humor to Fashion Week With a Fall 2020 Sketch Series

Instead of a show, the designer tapped comedians Jane Krakowski, Michelle Buteau, Gillian Jacobs and more to model — and perform in — her new collection.
Michelle Buteau in Tanya Taylor's Fall 2020 lookbook.

Michelle Buteau in Tanya Taylor's Fall 2020 lookbook.

Fashion week can feel stuffy, serious. It can make people feel some type of way. At times, it can get ridiculous. And season after season, we ask ourselves: Why are we doing this, again?

Tanya Taylor is offering one alternative, addressing fashion week fatigue with a little humor for Fall 2020. 

"We've been on the calendar and part of fashion week for eight years now," Taylor tells Fashionista. "We've never felt precious about how we show — we've shown runway, we've done installations, we've done luncheons." Through it all, the designer explains, the brand was most successful when it was attuned with "what's best for the business, what's great for our customer and what's inspiring to us at the time." 

For her Spring and Fall 2019 collections, in particular, Taylor skipped traditional runway and presentation formats in favor of hosting intimate parties, where women in different industries gathered together while wearing pieces from the line. Last September, she returned to Spring Studios for a presentation — but, in the end, her team "walked away just not feeling fully satisfied, not feeling like we got to invite a customer into the experience of the story we're trying to tell." 

When it was time to start thinking about Fall 2020 in earnest, Taylor gathered everyone to reflect on a simple prompt: "What makes us happy?" 

The consensus, she says, was laughter: "We're all looking for the joy in fashion, finding the lighthearted moments in the industry. We realized that there's a sense of humor about fashion, so we decided to translate that into five fashion films centered around five comedians."

And so, that's how Jane Krakowski, Gillian Jacobs, Sasheer Zamata, Zosia Mamet and Michelle Buteau ended up acting out a series of vignettes about fashion week while wearing Tanya Taylor's Fall 2020 collection. 

Taylor hired Jill Demling, who was a longtime entertainment director at U.S. Vogue before jumping over to the magazine's British edition as a contributor, to handle casting. Then, she brought on Samantha Shanker of Little Stranger (Tina Fey's production company) to write and Evan Jonigkeit to direct. 

"We had never made a film before. We had a lot of learning to do, but we were excited as a team to take on that challenge and to challenge how we could show the collection to our customers at the same time we do to the industry," Taylor says. 

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The designer cites the brand's prior work with comedians as a reason why this felt like a natural project to pursue. (It famously outfitted Aidy Bryant in 2017, which then paved the way for extending its sizes permanently.) "They obviously have a sense of humor and are very intelligent," Taylor explains. "We've always been really inspired by their perspective on life." 

In the interest of bringing the customer into the process, back in December, the brand asked its Instagram followers to share what they found funny about fashion week. Their insight — which ranged from "why the multiple outfit changes?" to "who even gets to go to this?" — served as a jumping-off point for the script. 

Taylor makes clear that the point of the videos isn't to make fun of fashion week or the industry. Rather, she wants to tap into the "sense of humor" that many who work in the field have and highlight some of the more comical aspects of the biannual song-and-dance. (She brings up the Wikipedia entry for "fashion week," which defines it as "a fashion industry event, lasting approximately one week," as an example.) 

"We want to be inclusive to everybody. We want these videos to highlight how anybody can be fashionable and anybody can be included in the industry, because that's how we feel," Taylor notes. "For me, [the videos] felt like a nice way to make people feel like it's not a mystery, and that there's something that they can participate in and laugh about."

Bringing non-fashion professionals into her brand has been a recurring theme for Taylor. Aside from her fashion week luncheons, she regularly highlights women across different fields wearing her pieces in shoots and on her Instagram — something she says has "enriched" her business.

"I love knowing that we're not in a bubble and that we're connecting with people that have a perspective about their real bodies, real jobs and real budgets. That is what I think powers us to grow as a brand, because there's a reality behind who's going to really wear this and how we listen to them," Taylor explains, adding that the design team has created archetypes based on customer feedback that they then make sure to represent in every collection. (Her "Barbara," for example, isn't into puffy sleeves.) 

For Fall 2020, you can expect lots of outerwear, knits and layers that can be mixed and matched — typical autumnal fare, except, instead of darker, warmer colors, Taylor keeps it bright with pastels, in an effort to bring "optimism" into what can feel like a moody, dreary season. 

"We always want people to smile when they wear our collection," she says. "That's why we're so colorful. We try to create that happy vibe in the collection." 

See the full Tanya Taylor Fall 2020 collection in the gallery below:

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