Hillary Taymour, the coruscating creative and founder of progressive label Collina Strada, is not your usual designer. The self-confessed “chaotic” is determined to make her business as much about social issues and regeneration as it is about her unique brand of self-expression.
Underneath the Rockefeller Center in New York City yesterday, Taymour divulged the idea of a metaphoric, and literal gym, for fall/winter 2024. Named “Stronger”, the idea was to build and encourage female strength – in all incarnations. The presentation featured a pregnant woman, disability advocates, a model carrying her co-dressed toddler, CIS women, trans-women and women of many sizes and ages all cast to carry the ode to the enduring toughness of feminine identification.
Like with all Collina Strada seasons, ensembles were a cacophony of vintage layers, textural opposites and deliberately clashing genres. The gathered chiffon muscle blouse in sea-foam green worn with psychedelic silk trousers was a stand out as was the plaid day coat-and-tracksuit combo worn by 80’s screen queen Gina Gershon. Additionally, the slashy gowns, diaphanous flame skirts, quilted velvet tie-dye coats and mango-hued tartan suits caused visible awe in the crowd – particularly that of a gob-smacked Tommy Dorfman.
Taymour’s fashion manifesto has always been to rely on materials either upcycled or sustainably produced – this includes off-cut dead-stock, rose sylk and recycled cotton. The result is a unique kind of op-shop fantasia, one that is not only globally sensitive but vocally positive in slashing traditionalist fashion agendas.
A mash-up of Britney’s “Stronger” played as the models paraded in pieces that seemed to give them an undeniable and infectious confidence. Several carried crafted pumpkin-ended dumbbells – and they weren’t afraid to use them. Chaotic as she may make it seem, Taymour’s vision resonates with a broadening crowd. Fashionistas who love the theatre of dress but not the negative impact.
It is of course a wonderful trip, to view the kaleidoscopic wilderness of a Collina Strada show. The artistic projections (by Taymour’s art director Charlie Engman) engage you in a kind of psychological escape – like a memory montage from Scooby Doo or The Magic School Bus – on acid. And, for a designer who’s taken inspiration from everything from giant turnips to pig snouts to, um, Lauren Conrad, such references are more than likely to be pinned to her mood-board.
For this collection Taymour used the term “swole” to describe both the mood and the execution. Famously used by Tupac in his song “When I Get Free” (released posthumously in 1997) its urban-dictionary definition of (the usually masculine form of) muscular braun makes this a facetiously perfect mic-drop. Emotionally, politically, ironically and comically apt. How very Collina Strada.
The story is originally appread on GRAZIA International.