After just opening a new space in Chinatown, New York, Collina Strada are slowly but surely expanding their influence and vision across the fashion world. The label that seems inspired by all elements and disciplines, inspires self reflection within its audience also, as it embraces the youth within all of us – not just in the typical, superficial sense but one representative of all human beings. Collina Strada have taken a digitalised approach in their latest Autumn/Winter 2022 collection, with the reality TV show The Collinas. Still maintaining a natural edge through the designs and creative direction of their AW21 campaign that featured models transforming into their animal counterparts against backgrounds which depict the various earthly elements. Through its idiosyncrasy and transparency when it comes to production and shipping practices, Collina Strada are proof of the rapid changes in industry standards occurring within the last three years, though, Hillary Taymour, the very creator of Collina affirms we still have a long way to go.
Today we welcome back designer Hillary Taymour, the gifted presence behind the inimitable brand, Collina Strada. Hillary, how have you been since your last interview with us?
I’ve been great! Non-stop working but really becoming happy with the work we are putting out.
In your first interview with METAL, you expressed how diversity should be an industry standard, and not one’s responsibility to address. Do you feel that there has been some effort within the industry to encourage and facilitate the diversity of brands since then? Is it too soon to tell?
I think there are definitely a lot more people trying to be more inclusive. A huge amount since pre-pandemic have really stepped up their game and I think that is progress. Are we 100% there yet? No, however people are beginning to see the change and recognise it.
Your collections are consistently devoted to diverse and sincere representation of all identities and ages. Though many brands pride themselves on their embracement of youth and creativity, Collina Strada exceeds these superficial bounds, not just in its designs but employment practices too. Often your campaigns feature mature models wearing eccentric clothes not usually modelled by older women. When you think about it, elderly people are greatly underrepresented in the fashion world – especially since many labels are marketed towards young women. Why do you think that is?
I’m not sure why, I really love the representation you can get from a more mature model. There is generally less ego, or they have more fun with it. Overall, there is also less insecurity which makes for a better image. I think you can create great images and energy from all types of people not just the standard young model.
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Are you still fuelled by political and social progressions (or, even, regressions) happening around you when you are in the process of creating a new collection?
Yes of course, in today’s world you are always influenced by what is going on around us. I am constantly reacting to the news and trying to be a sensible voice in the industry
What would you say the core message for Autumn Winter 2022 is, if any?
For Collina it’s about playing with what we can in this digital world. I am afraid this might be our last digital show in which we can control the finished product so much easier than a live show and have fun in our own way.
The ambience of your AW21 campaign and collection was many things; pixie, galactical, aquatic, elemental – I’m sure your inspirations stretch across boundaries and disciplines. The digital presentation of your look book was accompanied by the Angel Emoji hyper-pop song Collina-mals whose vibe matches the eccentricity of the clothes, both paying homage to animals through Animorphs gifs which transform each model into their own animal. How did you come up with the idea for this concept?
This was an idea Charlie and I had in our minds for a long time. It was based off the original Animorphs books.  I am so ecstatic we were able to pull it off and work with the original Animorph’s artist, David Mattingly.
Does this year feel like a development on that or a new direction?
It definitely has been a development with working with new types of tech to show collections all of 2020-2021 was digital and I had the best time working with Charlie Engman developing a new direction to showcase the brand.
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Evidently you worked towards challenging the idea of a traditional fashion show in your digitalised catwalks/look book. Do you think you that the boundaries of a traditional fashion show prevent you from bringing to life more concepts like the transformations in AW21?
Both are fun! I think you are definitely more limited to go extra on content in person but is still so exciting to see what actually happens on the runway.
Conversely, SS22 marked your first return to IRL, which must have been special- as well as being in the flesh for AW22. There is such a sense of joy and mutual respect in your stories covering SS22. How does it feel to commune together in person?
It felt great, this was truly a beautiful show and I enjoyed it so much. I love being around all the chaos of backstage and getting to experience it in person.
This AW21 collection represents something earthly yet extraterrestrial at the same time, even the way your models pose is unconventional, evoking movements which are animal-like or instinctual. It is evident that your concepts permeate even the tiniest details of your work. Is this process of world-building important to you?
I mean we made a video game called Collina Land. We created worlds for the brand in this space. I definitely think the normal world can feel boring so being able to create something that feels unreal is very interesting to me.
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What type of world do you want to build?
Oh man I don’t know where to start with this!
In 2018, you were getting ready to open up a more expansive space in Chinatown, New York. How has this new addition to Collina Strada improved your work and vision? Should we expect more of these in the future?
Yes it’s been nice to have a space all my own to really create and focus I hope it just gets bigger from here!
Collina Strada goes to great lengths to facilitate and champion sustainability; from your cooperation with the OR Foundation and the Kantamanto Market in Ghana, to the transparency of your practices on your website – which displays the rose sylk, deadstock fabric, and recycled cotton that you utilise. What other efforts has Collina Strada made towards achieving its mission of becoming fully sustainable in the near future?
Every product we start to develop we ask ourselves how we can make it better. I think it’s just about being super cautious of how we are making product and to not cut corners on this.  We finally got our Sweat and Tee program to be organic and using deadstock and I am thrilled about that. We are working on more sustainable jewellery, and we are using deadstock raffia for a new handbag program.
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