Vicki Taylor has been a thoughtful presence in New Zealand fashion for more than 20 years.
Her relentless passion for designing collections that proudly showcase the brand’s New Zealand heritage has led to a legion of loyal followers and earned enormous respect around the taylor aesthetic of inspired and ethical design, with high-end luxurious fabrications.
Having made her early mark on the fashion landscape as founder and designer of contemporary womenswear brand taylor, which she launched in 1999, Vicki went on to open multi-brand concept store The Shelter in 2014. She is also the creative mind behind Symetria, her European stocked brand, which has wholesale partners throughout Europe including Selfridges.
There’s a deceptive simplicity to taylor garments, with clean lines belying the intense creativity behind their placement. Fluid structure, graceful contours, and an elevated sense of style are at play throughout the decades of taylor collections, and this underlying cohesion is at the heart of the brand’s timeless appeal.
FashioNZ catches up with Vicki Taylor to find out more about what ignites her drive, her latest collection and her attitude towards design and fashion.
Tell us about your latest collection
Our SS22/23 collection stems from two main inspirations: the art of design and the emotion it evokes while celebrating the stunning landscape of New Zealand’s lower North Island.
Inspired by the artwork of sculptor Joe Gitterman. Taking a solid-edged object, Gitterman gives his work the presence of movement through folds depicting kinetic movement in forms of falling, turning, or twisting. The pieces in the collection play with seams, angles, and folds to create design lines and softened curves that give rise and fall to a flat surface.
Feeling the need to provide a collection that creatively builds on past collections and reflects the less frivolous nature of the now, it’s time for calm, introspection, and learning from the past to move forward within the ever-changed new world we’re operating in. Creating garments that celebrate timelessness and reject trends, allowing each piece to stand forever on thoughtful design and timeless beauty in fabrication and colour.
In this collection, the Landscape print is an original artwork by NZ artist, Rebekah Farr, looking towards the Tararua mountains that surround the Wairarapa. This artwork evokes a feeling of tranquillity and pays homage to the world around us and the ever-growing need to respect and care for our surroundings.
What made you become a designer?
My love of the industry started very young. I’m a third generation of a textile family, so while designing was not directly in my family history, I grew up being surrounded by beautiful fabrics. School holidays spent helping in my father’s textile warehouse, rolling fabrics, making swatch cards, and tidying up the showroom created an interest in fabrics. My mother was amazing at just whipping something up on the sewing machine and so my interest in design and creating something stemmed from way back. I tried hard to ignore the fashion side and wanted to follow other artistic pursuits, but the fashion side just kept pulling at me and eventually, I decided to study in Melbourne, Australia, gaining a Degree in Fashion Design. Since then, going to work to do what I love has become part of my life, and I feel honoured to have so many loyal clients who have supported my work for so many years.
What inspires you?
Inspiration can come from anywhere. Being a textile-led designer, I always need a fabric to start and often when I touch it and fold it, the inspiration arrives, and I know what it will need to be made into. Sometimes the inspiration is more subtle where I will see a view out a window and the converging lines of buildings or an interrupted horizon line will become a new seam detail on a garment. I’m often inspired by artwork – the shape and form of a sculpture will lead me to investigate the artist’s works and from there the essence will be distilled into my garments.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
My style is always an interpretation of my own aesthetic values coupled with my way of thinking, therefore, my personal style is a huge influence on my designs. I find these questions so hard to answer, as my style is me. I love simple, elegant layering to create a silhouette, juxtaposing the soft and hard in an outfit, and I prefer to tie a knot over a bow. In my designs, I prefer a straight line, a beautiful cut and fit, a clean edge contrasting a raw rough edge. Layering of tonal and textural fabrications to give considered contrasts is highlighted over colourful combinations. Softness is created by fluidity of fabric and then contained with sharply tailored pieces. Frills do creep occasionally into my designs but expect them to have a sharp corner or straight edge to balance the softness.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
It has to be my Simon James Arcade couch – the best place to relax after a day at work and share stories with my family.
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
There has to be two pieces:
An amazing coat – one you fall in love with; it’s soft, textural, and always makes you feel amazing when you pull it on. A great coat will last for years in your wardrobe.
A great pair of shoes or boots – soft and supple in an amazing leather with very few seams as then they have been properly moulded on a shoe block, with enough of a heel to elevate your feelings for the day to make you feel powerful and still comfortable enough to be worn regularly.
Do you have a style rule you always follow?
This depends on who I’m dressing, as every person and figure is different and people have different needs for their wardrobe so these must be personalised to a situation. If looking for a style rule for dressing myself – I’m vertically challenged at 5’2” so my outfits will always have a long vertical line on them, as that draws the eye up the body and helps me appear taller. I’m also known for saying: ensure matching colours of your underlayers if going underneath a sheer or semi-translucent overlayer, as a harsh colour break makes the eye go horizontal across your body accentuating width.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I feel so fortunate to have had some amazing opportunities over my career, choosing just one is hard. Creating the NZ Silver Ferns off-court uniforms when they were the world champions was memorable. The outfits were great and we custom-made every piece to fit each player and their coaching staff. The experience of being up close with them all was amazing. Judging WoW (World of Wearable Art) surrounded by such incredible creativity and the very talented Dame Suzie Moncreiff was certainly a creative highlight. More recently, a pinch-me moment was seeing my designs, made in New Zealand by our incredible makers, hanging in leading London department store Selfridges in the same designer gallery as leading international designers like Celine, Prada, Rick Owens, and Yohji Yamamoto. These designers I grew up idolising and then being told we were the third bestselling designer in our area was pretty incredible. Somehow, we’re now delivering our fifth season to them.
What can’t you live without?
My family, who keep me grounded and always laughing.