“We turned our models into the flower characters and then designed the collection based off of them,” designer Hillary Taymour explains. “We tried to create a fantasy world.' Go behind-the-scenes of Collina Strada’s spring 2021 collection video here:
Designer Hillary Taymour and her community of artists have built a virtual dreamworld that represents joy and inclusivity.
collection video seemed pretty standard at first glance. There was a sign-in table where temperatures were being taken and masks and sanitizers were being handed out. And there were makeup chairs, a vegan-friendly craft services table, racks of clothes, and some heavy-duty film and photo equipment. But this wasn’t a typical fashion shoot—far from it. Designer Hillary Taymour and her collaborator and best friend, Charlie Engman, were actually in the process of building an entirely new world.
In the middle of the pandemic this summer, Taymour decided that, in the absence of most physical runway shows, she wanted to translate her work into something that doesn’t exist in reality, but maybe should. “Flowers can be models, right?” she asked. “Anything, anyone can be a model in this digital runway world—that’s the point,” she added. Taymour and Engman worked with local New York illustrator and artist Sean-Kierre Lyons on a series of psychedelic characters that blend flowers with the likenesses of some of Taymour’s friends and frequent runway models, including poet and artist Precious Okoyomon, disability activist Emily Barker, and curator and writer Kimberly Drew. The characters were then turned into 3D animations by Jefferson Wenzel. Taymour and Engman also filmed their model friends frolicking around various farms and landscapes in upstate New York, skipping through fields, and running through waves on a beach. Taymour titled the video and collection “Change Is Cute,” and described it as “a utopian virtual world of tie-dyed cornfields, sprouting carrots, floating gardens, and a Collina-print rainbow.”
On the set that day, several friends, including Alexandra Marzella and her baby, Earth (who was in the womb as his mom walked in Taymour’s last show), as well as Mission Chinese Food owner Danny Bowein, strutted, bounced, and played jump rope in front of a giant green screen. There were pogo sticks too. “More vibes?” Taymour asked the crew as one model did her catwalk for the cameras. “More vibes!” they all cheered. Indeed, there were plenty of joyful vibes on the set, and watching this cool community build its own Technicolor commune was a reminder that fashion can be both an agent for change and pure, unadulterated fun.
“We turned our models into the flower characters and then designed the collection based off of them,” Taymour explains. “We tried to create a fantasy world. I don’t want to make clothes if I’m not saying something or putting something creative out beyond just a look book, especially right now.” Her spring 2021 collection was made entirely of materials and fabrics upcycled from previous collections. There are playful embellished sweatpants, slip dresses with floral prints and crystal straps, and a new array of vibrant bags.
In the end, the film, edited by Alicia Mercy, wound up being a mix of real people, flower people, babies, and animals set in nature. It’s a celebration of diversity, activism, eco-consciousness, and happy clothes; it exists well outside the high-end luxury world, but that world could learn from this one. To use one of Taymour’s words, the video and the collection are “farm-tastic.” Change really is cute.
Here, a behind-the-scenes look at how “Change Is Cute” came together. Read more: Vogue Magazine »
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