Courtesy of SCAD
Thanks to the Savannah College of Art & Design, Georgia has become a well-known breeding ground for young fashion designers. This year, several recent grads caught our eye—and one in particular, Atlanta native Jeffrey Taylor, who is showing a capsule collection at fashion week in Paris today, stands out.
Taylor, who grew up in Decatur and attended Southwest Dekalb High School before heading to SCAD’s Savannah campus, says his first fashion inspiration was his mother’s church clothes. The family attended Holy Hill Church off of Moreland—still do—and by age five, Taylor was watching what his mother wore on Sundays. “She was always pulling out colorful suits and big hats,” he says. “If we went to two services on Sunday, she changed her suit. It drew my attention early.”
We first discovered Taylor at SCAD’s senior fashion show in Savannah back in May, where his three floral eveningwear looks elicited oohs and aahs from the crowd (which included Brooke Shields, celebrity runway coach J. Alexander, and, oh, legendary designer Carolina Herrera). His looks—a far cry from church clothes, but packed with color—displayed bright clashing floral prints (which he developed with fellow SCAD student Lottie Bertello, often from real flowers they picked), surprising color combinations, sophisticated silhouettes, intricate embroidery, and yards of lavish fabrics. His three looks closed the school’s show, with a finale gown that showed what Taylor might do with a bridal collection, featuring a gauzy embroidered layered dress and scarf trailing nearly to the floor. We had a feeling he would be going places.
We were right. Earlier this month during New York Fashion Week, Taylor won the Supima Design Competition, for which students and young designers from around the country use the brand’s famed pima cotton to create a capsule collection under the mentorship of designer Bibhu Mohapatra. The prize was $10,000 and the opportunity to show the collection at Paris Fashion Week, and today he’ll display it at a show space blocks from the Champs-Élysées and the posh Avenue Montaigne. Each piece seemed more luxurious and elegant than the last in his Tibet-inspired five-piece collection, ranging from a soft pink floral-printed tea-length dress to a full ballgown fit for a fresh Marie Antoinette or an Oscar de la Renta runway.
As for the ten grand? Taylor is laser-focused. He says he’ll spend some on student loans, and the rest he’ll save for his upcoming move to New York, where he hopes to land a job with an eveningwear designer. He’s not planning to rush his own brand, but rather to carefully hone it. “My plan is to work in the industry as long as possible,” he says. “I want to work under other designers, get as much knowledge as possible under an established eveningwear designer, and to build up my connections before going out on my own.” (He’s already had a summer internship at Naeem Khan.) “But yes,” he says, “I do want to have my own empire one day.” We’ll be watching.
Two other SCAD grads from the Atlanta and Savannah campuses (though there were beautiful pieces by students at SCAD’s Hong Kong campus as well) caught our attention at the graduation show.
Bayan Sardari (Atlanta campus, MFA fashion design) is originally from Iran and is as much an artist as a clothing designer. Her works feature undulating strips of fabric that move rhythmically with the body, creating organic, unusual shapes. We shot one such look on fashion muse Lily Gatins at Krog Street Market for our September issue.
Paola Safie (Savannah campus, BFA fashion design) is originally from El Salvador. Her three silk-satin looks—simple but impeccable—spoke to old-school understated glamour, and shimmered all the way down the runway. It’s no surprise she’s already landed an internship at Hollywood favorite Badgley Mischka.