Tanya Taylor's Fall 2021 collection was inspired by interiors.
In the notes accompanying the line, the designer cites Jeremiah Goodman's paintings of the homes of well-to-do society women as an inspiration. "He was able to tell the story of someone by the interiors they chose," she tells Fashionista over Zoom, ahead of the New York Fashion Week debut. The seed for that idea, though, actually came from her colleagues: "Every time I'd call someone, they'd be like, 'Hold on a second, a delivery guy's coming with a mirror.' Or, 'I just bought this pillow, I was on a waitlist.' Everyone had this new interest in what they were buying and putting around them. I felt that — I had to turn my garage into an office."
Taylor has been doing a bit of redecorating herself. She's been living out in East Hampton, which has given her a new appreciation for autumn. "I think I've fallen in love with the season in a different way, just because it's around you. You're not going from your apartment to your office — you're in it," she says. In a way, that helped position her to design the fall collection she always wanted to, but felt she never got a chance to create.
"It's probably just been caught up in the hustle of the seasonal calendar and never having time for it — it's the most crunched time period," Taylor explains, of the post-holiday rush that leads into the February fashion month. "Because we're so good at prints, summer always excels. I really took time thinking of a lot of knitwear and how to bring an emotional attachment to fall through knitwear. I think [Fall 2021] pushes us forward, to break out from being this print summer brand. That's really important for me, that I can flex my muscles with fall and show color and texture in a still very feminine and happy way."
Ultimately, the collection is "a turning point for us," according to the designer.
Taylor is back on the New York Fashion Week schedule after using her allotted slot last season to bring attention to voter registration, through a PSA starring Rosario Dawson, Mindy Kaling, Michelle Buteau, Hillary Clinton and more. Still, "It never was going to set us in the direction of never showing during the industry time — it just felt like our attention was better served when you had eyes on the brand during fashion week, like every brand has, to talk about something that mattered to us," she says. (The brand's spring collection debuted on Vogue.com last month.)
It was the team's excitement about the Fall 2021 line that really pushed Taylor to get back into the traditional rhythm of showing: "It honestly felt like, from a design team perspective, we didn't want to wait. We wanted to show the constant evolution of what we were designing — not in an overwhelming way that confused our customer [because] they couldn't buy it, but showing it on Vogue.com, talking to the industry about it, using that to get new retailers on board... [It] felt really important because otherwise, what they see is only what's produced and in-season. I think that there's a lot of depth to the things we're trying that we want new accounts to see and appreciate and buy."
With this collection, Taylor is venturing into some new territory. She's working with indigo denim, for one, and reimagining certain classic American wardrobe staples, like pinstriped shirting, for her customer. The Fall 2021 line is packed with pieces that feel special, but are still appropriate for the times we're living in: big blanket coats, knit sets, stretchy suiting, T-shirts and don't-have-to-think-about-it styles like airy dresses and a knit vest with sleeves attached. Then, of course, there are "fall-ified" florals — a beloved Taylor signature — and hand-painted patterns, which feel almost like wallpaper, drawn in such a way where you can tell a human is behind them. "We just wanted it to not feel too precious or perfect," the designer notes. (The paisley prints, for one, were rendered in Sharpie: "We have been making things with anything we can get our hands on.")
Taylor's most devoted customers might also recognize some silhouettes from past collections reissued in new colorways — something the designer hasn't done a lot of before. "What's tough about fashion sometimes, it's so easy to keep moving on to the next new thing versus really digging deeper on codes you want to own," she explains. "I took time to say to myself, 'I want to own playing with denim.' It's one of the most exciting things when those pieces come in, and that's probably surprising to people, because they're used to buying silk dresses. And I want to own playful shirting. I really want to own knitwear. It kind of took digging into what I used to love developing and really spending a lot of time on it this season."
It may not be what she's most known for, but there's a precedent for this, she says: "When I look back to our first couple of years of business, [there are] a lot of solids, a lot of sportswear, a lot of knitwear. And with a whole new team on board, I needed to go back and say, 'This is what I did solo, and I still gravitate towards wearing it. I still think it was very different from what was out there. Let's make sure that voice is here.'"
"It took a moment when business sucked to say, 'What do I want to be?,'" Taylor continues. "Fall is the first step in showing [that]."
As the collection rolls out, the designer hopes that it shows people — customers, editors, retailers, the wider public — that the brand can do more than sell a good floral dress. "We know how a woman dresses throughout the year," Taylor says. "That idea that we can carry a customer throughout the year will help our business so much. And that people are just really surprised but also, that they find it beautiful. We wanted it to be a very beautiful expression of what we can do."
See every single look from Tanya Taylor's Fall 2021 collection in the gallery below.