Fly Like A Butterfly. Collina Strada SS23

At Collina Strada, Hillary Taymour was in a celebratory mood (like many designers in New York seem to be). Hari Nef opened the show, wearing a dainty, lace-trimmed slip over wide-leg plaid trousers, her arms fluttering up and down like so many butterfly wings. Bedazzled on the front was the phrase “Got milkweed?,” an environmentally friendly take on the classic Got Milk? ad campaign of the ’90s, which also happened to be the name of the collection. Milkweed is the only plant monarch caterpillars will eat. Fittingly, the show took place at Brooklyn Greenway, a former cemetery turned monarch butterfly preserve that’s not open to the public. Taymour’s signature playfulness and Y2K influence were certainly present, but there was also a tender touch (some of the models wore extra-long braids that dragged on the floor behind them as they walked, like a Rapunzel that never had to cut her hair off to find freedom) and a mix of romanticism that resulted in some truly elegant eveningwear options. A floral lace–crocheted long-sleeve gown was worn underneath a structured bustier minidress with an exaggerated balloon skirt—a fantastic continuation of the exploration of panniers and bustles that Taymour has embarked on for the past few seasons. “I just feel like now that we’re a ‘trend,’ I really wanted to push it and be like, ‘We’re not just [sportswear],’” said Taymour after the show. “I can make these dresses for you and elevate it.” A carnation pink dress made from deadstock chiffon that hung from bent-wire flowers that attached to matching airbrushed pink breasts and nipples proved she could do both. She added, “I just wanted to push myself to do that.” Big cargos came in hand-drawn floral prints, crushed velvet, and even organza. Decorated jeans were part of a collaboration with Unspun, a company that 3D-scans the body in order to create made-to-order denim. She also debuted a collaboration with Virón featuring shoes made of upcycled materials, including ruffled velvet oxfords and chunky silver metallic boots, and a collaboration with Melissa on supercool and weird puffy sandals, which she paired with tiny satin ballerina-style socks that perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the collection. In the show notes, Taymour describes being inspired by “the butterfly’s symbolic cycle of life, death, and rebirth,” but with clothes like these, Collina Strada will thrive forever.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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NET-A-PORTER Limited

The Collinas. Collina Strada AW22

New York Fashion Week would make no sense without the energy of the city’s new-gen designers who fully embrace inclusivity, community and sustainability. This season, Collina Strada‘s Hillary Taymour showcased her exuberant and lively autumn-winter 2022 collection with a digital presentation, inviting the fashion set to experience its version of The Hills, entitled The Collinas. In the spoof, actor Tommy Dorfman makes her fashion week debut playing a twenty-something moving to New York City for a fashion internship at Collina Strada. Dorfman’s star turn was complemented by a large supporting cast: Rowan Blanchard, Marni’s Francesco Risso, Chloe Wise, Lynette Nylander, Jazzelle Zanaughtti, Ruby Aldridge, and Vogue’s Liana Satenstein – all friends of the brand. While the main character is rather clueless on how to actually do her job properly, she’s lovable with great taste – an aspect her peers can’t get enough of. The campy reality-TV pastiche wasn’t only entertaining and hilarious; it was a great background for Strada’s fabulous pleats, crushed velvet and metallic fabrics. Flashy colours and graphics inspired by 1970s psychedelic rock were mixed with genderless prom dresses and cargo pants made from upcycled materials. This season, Taymour evidentely entered her 2000s phase, and it’s working. Some ideas from spring 2022 carry over, like the Angel-printed tee and meshy layering pieces that have long been a staple. There is a low vibrating cake theme as well – Zanaughtti poses in a pageant ribbon top holding a pink cake; a pair of jeans were dyed using melted sprinkles. Chiffon is shredded to evoke feathers and studio detritus is cut into fringe. The eclecticism of Taymour’s earliest collections persists, and here we are with dozens of wearable and wantable garments that reflect the brand’s spirit.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Blooming Queens. Collina Strada SS22

Nature. Sunset. Raving. Queens. Situated on Brooklyn Grange’s rooftop garden in Sunset Park, the Collina Strada show was a vibrant welcome back to physical fashion shows in New York. Hillary Taymour described the scene as following: “We’ve got a farm queen, broken skater queen, prom queen, and a frog princess.” The simple message was that after a year of doldrums, we should all have the freedom to dress up as the queens we are. For spring-summer 2022, the designer has found a happy marriage between the natural world and the world around her. She’s deftly fusing literal garden references with real-world pragmatism: the actress Sasha Frolova walked in a macramé skirt and a hand-beaded bodysuit hand-in-hand with her grandmother, who played the gardener. The voluminous, wafty dresses, mostly layered over pants on the runway, were for those sticky summer days when you feel ick about your body, but you’ve got to go out. A new trouser style had a thong built in, for when you feel hot, and belts were made to look like crystal tramp stamps – for when you feel really hot. There were tons of new layering pieces like upcycled tees, cargo trousers, bias-cut and draped midi skirts, and even swimwear, not to mention the sculpted horse and beetle corsets. Look even closer, and you’ll find dozens of new accessories too, like upcycled raffia bags and necklaces and straps made from studio detritus. The level of handwork in this collection was dialed up exponentially, with hand-beaded pasties and flowers accompanying more producible items like doodle jeans and a new collaboration with Levi’s that birthed star-studded straight legs and classic denim jackets. On the runway Taymour dialed the wackiness of it all up to 11 as well. Models plucked carrots, sprinted down the catwalk, waved, laughed, and hugged while two live performances took place. The front row – composed of Kim Petras, Tommy Dorfman, Hari Nef, Aaron Philip, Camila Mendes, and Ella Emhoff – was eating it up, maybe even literally. An errant carrot on the runway, while rhinestone-studded, would have made a nice snack. In addition to bringing the good vibes and high octane fun to NYFW, Taymour also brings a deep commitment to reducing waste, turning bottle caps into pieces of high fashion jewelry. As we return to Fashion Week “as usual,” more of her peers should consider doing things the Collina Strada way.

Collages by Edward Kanarecki.

Community and Our Planet. Collina Strada SS20

Hillary Taymour’s brand, Collina Strada, is another line-up from NYFW that will make you smile. This label is all about sustainability, but not in a shallow, ‘trendy’ way: each season, it focuses on community, a balanced life and our planet. The invitation listed a number of points that would help Mother Earth: eat less meat, start a garden, grow your own food, learn to compost, buy vintage and plant many trees were just some. The runway was staged on a street, along stalls of home-grown vegetables and fruits, free for pick-up (and perfect for a in-between-the-shows brunch). The models weren’t actual models, but friends of the brand, at different ages, sizes and races. They walked along their babies and pets. This was a raw and truly “real” fashion show. And the fashion was equally laid-back: it had the signature Collina Strada D.I.Y. feeling about it, full of tie-dye and garments made out of upcycled textiles and fabrics. I love New York’s small, independent brands.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.