An Artful Camaraderie
Tanya Taylor animates the élan of Elaine de Kooning in her fall 2022 ready-to-wear collection. BY TERRI PROVENCAL
Tanya Taylor at the Elaine de Kooning House and Studio.
n a serendipitous turn, Canadian-born fashion designer Tanya Taylor filmed her fall 2022 collection at the East Hampton home of Chris Byrne, an ongoing Patron contributor and the founder of the Elaine de Kooning House and Studio, which has hosted exhibitions and informal artist residencies since 2011. Meanwhile, boutique director Nerissa von Helpenstill was busy making plans for Tootsie’s runway presentation with Tanya Taylor, this year’s featured designer of the Mad Hatter’s Tea at the Dallas Arboretum on April 20. An admirer of Elaine de Kooning’s enduring strength, Taylor, who always breaks from the status quo, drew inspiration from the late artist’s postwar practice. We spoke with the New York– based designer following the collection’s filming and release. Terri Provencal (TP): You’ve painted your entire life, and your own handpainted prints are your signature. What does the intersection of art and fashion mean to you? Tanya Taylor (TT): I grew up in a highly creative environment, to the point where I was even allowed to paint walls in our home. I was always encouraged to pursue my artistic sensibilities and think out of the box. Being able to be at the intersection of art and fashion means that I’m able to make art accessible and approachable to more people and give them the tools to express themselves creatively and confidently. TP: The Tanya Taylor fall 2022 collection was inspired by Elaine de Kooning, whose practice straddled abstract expressionism and portraiture. What drew you
to her? Have you always admired her work? TT: I’ve always felt drawn to the stories of female artists, and I am so passionate about keeping their visions alive. De Kooning was simply fascinating to me; she was described by Brandon Brame Fortune [the author of Elaine de Kooning: Portraits (2015)] as at the “red-hot center of everything that was happening in New York City.” She was such a supporter of other female creatives, and even through the residency program established in her former house. She created this spirit of camaraderie in the artistic community, and I want to help keep it alive. TP: And how did you discover the Elaine de Kooning House, which just entered the National Register of Historic Places in January? TT: I lived in East Hampton during the pandemic and did not actually know about the Elaine de Kooning House and Studio until we started looking for interesting places to take an inspiration trip in the area. It was so exciting to discover such a culturally significant place just a stone’s throw away. TP: You filmed your fall collection at this East Hampton studio, which includes an artist’s residency program. You even painted while there. Tell us about the experience. TT: De Kooning created some of her most important works in that home, and standing where she once stood to create was such an honor. When we think back to the trip, we can’t help but feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to create so freely in her home. We explored every nook and cranny, discovered some of her personal effects, and walked away with so many new creative ideas