Consulting the Italian-English dictionary, Collina translates to “hill” and Strada translates to “street.” Together, the words form Collina Strada, which in fashion-speak translates to “the world of Hillary Taymour.” It’s a tough, minimal, chic world composed of clean lines, leather, marble, and occasional bursts of color. And it’s all inspired by Hillary’s lifestyle which includes her beloved pup, Pow Wow, a recently renovated apartment in Williamsburg, and Thursday nights out with her fabulous friends. What started with a handbag designed by Hillary, then a fashion student in Los Angeles, has become a full fledged brand. People wanted to buy the handbag, and, suddenly Hillary found herself in business and Collina Strada was born. In 2008, Hillary expanded the collection to what she always dreamed of designing, ready-to-wear and last season, again proving necessity is the mother of invention, Hillary launched home design created under the Social + Studies moniker and the line is featured as the set for her fashion presentation.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Palos Verdes, California, lived in L.A., and Aspen. In 2009, I moved to New York. It was my dream since I was sixteen.
How does Los Angeles compare to New York City?
Living here is incomparable to L.A. You can fit so much into your day here by not spending all your free hours in traffic. On a given night in LA you plan dinner with friends. Whereas, in NY you have the time to go to an opening, a dinner, a client drink, and an event in the same night. In fact that’s pretty much every Thursday. It’s a city where you ask for help and people go out of their way. If you can survive here you can survive anywhere.
What inspired you to pursue a fashion career?
I have always been altering my clothes or thinking of ways to make them better. I think this lead me down the path. I was always a fashion forward dresser, considered weird in high school. Fashion has always been a creative outlet and I love expressing my moods in what I wear.
Where did you go to school?
I studied at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. I have an AA in Fashion Design and BS in Business Management.
You first started designing with a handbag collection. How did that happen?
I began Collina Strada while attending fashion school in LA. I was working for a big company, and made a handbag for myself. I wore it around and it got noticed. From there, it was a fluke; I just developed a small collection and took it to market. I always wanted to be a designer but never an accessory designer. So, my transition into ready-to-wear has been very important to me.
Running your own company, is it hard to tap into both the left and right side of your brain?
It can be really hard to sit down and design sometimes. I am bombarded by daily operational e-mails and weeding out priorities. I like to go away for the weekend, turn off my phone, and just sketch with no distractions. I feel like I need to remove myself from the workplace in order to create.
You recently added home design to your repertoire. Please tell us about it.
I started Social + Studies, pronounced And Social Studies, last season to launch with my fashion presentation at Milk Made. The home line is just an extension of the girl. It is a play on my inspiration, and allows me to really focus on the brand’s world. What does my customer wear, and what does her home look like? Home has been an exciting creative outlet for expressing my vision in a new way.
How do you approach home design differently than fashion design?
I approach it on a similar level but the home design is something you have to see day in and day out, not worn occasionally. It has to be a bit more subdued and minimal, with a classic element added through the materials.
Who is the ideal Collina Strada woman?
She can be defined as minimal tough. She appreciates the unexpected statement piece and has the confidence to mix it into her everyday wardrobe.