I had a little chat, stylist-to-stylist, with Taylor Tomasi Hill while she was in town to
celebrate her collection with Lane Crawford back in January (Yes, this is way overdue.
Apologies!!) The extremely talented Taylor was not only more gorgeous in person, she was also
just sooo nice!
Hope you enjoy the read!
TL: So let’s start way back, when did you first catch the fashion bug?
TTH: Well I kind of grew up in a fashion family, my Mom and Dad owned a children’s accessories show room. It was the largest children’s accessories showroom in Dallas. So from the time I was 5, I was always there playing around and learning how to write orders. My role was to pop the popcorn for all the stores that came in to place their orders!
How old were you then?
I was there from about five years old until thirteen I would say, maybe even fifteen. So I was kind of around it, but I never really put it together, that it was fashion. I never thought I was going to study fashion. In high school, I started working for a photographer after school, who shot family portraits and weddings and those kinds of things and ended up loving it and thought that’s what I wanted to study. I went for photography during my 1st year [at university], but once I got there I knew I didn’t want to do photography anymore and switched over to industrial design after my first semester. So I studied industrial design and that’s what I got my degree in. Then in my senior year of college, I got an internship at W Magazine. I always remembered W sitting around my house and I would flip through it. It wasn’t something like those stories you hear of girls that are like, ‘My mom’s Vogue was always out and I always knew I wanted to be an editor and I always knew I wanted to be in fashion!’ It was nothing like that.
So just like that, you decided to apply to W?
Well it was past the cut off date and they said, no we cannot have any more interns, and it was done and over with. At that time they still had fax machines and it was still a big thing to fax. So I faxed, I emailed, I showed up with my portfolio. My very first boss who hired me in the end said, ‘You are so persistent. We are going to go ahead and take you as an exception, because you were so on it.’ So I had my first internship there and after six months a position became available in the closest, which is like the lowest of the low, but the best place to learn and I started there. I was the accessories and fashion assistant in the closet for a year, then I moved into the accessories department. I was in the accessories department for two years and then I moved into the fashion department. So I kind of dabbled in everything. After three to five years there, I left to go to Teen Vogue as their Senior Fashion Editor. At that point, I was making career moves based on wanting to have an experience of moving from a high-end publication to the teen market, the teen market especially from the Vogue perspective. Then when I left to Marie Claire, I wanted that whole commercial experience, encompassing every woman that I could know and get to know better.
So it was a conscious thing?
Yes, I think that also came from my mentors, talking to them about it. I interviewed at other publications and I wanted to make sure I was making the right moves strategically to get as much out of each publication and not just move for a name. I feel like if you stay in the world of the Ws and the Vogues, you end up staying there forever and can kind of get a little bit stuck, because that’s all you know. It’s always exciting when you are in this luxury world, but I wanted to take it to another step and eventually learn the business side of it as well. So the last couple of months have brought me to Moda Operandi. I was ready after ten years in the editorial and publishing world. I’m ready to now branch out and learn retail and online. And so that’s where we are.
How is it going so far?
It’s good! I am in week four/five. It’s a huge change. I’m learning every day, trying to bring my editorial expertise to a company that doesn’t purchase anything. So it’s going to be tricky and it’s definitely a challenge. How can we have an editorial point of view when we don’t actually purchase? We are kind of the middle man. We are bringing runway pieces to women who are purchasing directly, so it’s a challenge and it’s an interesting one. I think if it’s done properly, it can really change the way women shop.
Is there going to be an online magazine?
There is an online magazine that exists right now on the site. Come February 5th, we are going to be relauching. What I’m focusing on right now is the aesthetics of the actual site. It’s very cookie cutter right now as we are only 10 months old. So come February 5th, we relaunch with a new look. I think it will always be evolving and changing. It’s very one note at the moment, because it’s a baby and it’s new. We are trying to put all the energy into actually making it run properly and work and make sure that our customer is satisfied more than anything. It’s a learning experience, but it’s been great.
So having worked at opposite ends of the spectrum, with W magazine and Marie Claire, did you consciously do anything differently styling-wise at each of these magazines? Say at Marie Claire, did you have to water anything to down to make it more relatable to a more commercial audience?
I never want to water anything down, so I prefer to then come up with a concept or theme that wouldn’t be diluted for the customer. W is very artistic focused, it’s more of an art form. Yes, they are selling clothes, but it’s more about the incredible photographers and the incredible stylists who have been around forever, who are legends. It’s really more just about the photography. Being at Marie Claire, we want to sell clothes, we want to show women how to shop, how to dress, how to mix things and that’s kind of my love. I still have a huge passion for W, my absolute most fond memories were being on the sets. It was just incredible, but I didn’t have the opportunity to actually work with those photographers at Marie Claire. It was a totally different beast and so finding my passion there, was really the styling and coming up with story ideas that would relate to my readers, which is very different. I think that’s the exciting thing about magazines and what is sad about publications right now, I think, is that the designer is the one making the rules right now. They are enforcing the full looks to be shot as they are on the runway and that’s what a show is for. Every woman can now get onto Style.com and see the show, you can watch it live for a lot of the shows and that should be their time. Then when it comes to a publication, that’s when it’s about self-expression and a stylist representing the magazine showing their point of view. Every magazine should then be different with their own views, but now every magazine looks the same. Personally, I think that is what is really hurting the industry. There are obviously other things, but I think that’s a huge issue. Girls don’t go out and buy ten magazines anymore. They buy two or three, because they are seeing the same things.
So what do you do then? For me I just say, if the whole look works for the idea of the shoot I’ll do it and if not then, sorry, you won’t be featured in the shoot.
In publishing, the hard thing is you have to please your advertisers, so a lot of the time you don’t have a choice. There would be times where we would break up looks obviously, and there are certain designers that are more lenient than others, but for the most part a lot of those are advertisers. We have to get them in and they know you have to get them in and so they don’t really care. So unless you’re a Grace Coddington and you are going to do whatever you want and nobody is going to give you any issues, then it’s a little more difficult to express.
Everyone is buying the digital versions of magazines now, do you still buy paper?
Oh absolutely! I work for an online retailer, but I still shop in-store and I still buy magazines. I always will. I’m the kind of person who needs it in my hand. I need tears. I need that reminder that that was an image that I loved or that’s a piece that I want to purchase. I always feel more secure with it in hand.
Sometimes people ask me, how did you know you wanted to be a stylist, but there wasn’t one moment where I really knew. I just knew that I loved magazines and I loved the images in the magazines and wanted to be a part of that. Did you have a time when you just knew?
I think being on set with Alex White at W was really an eye opener for me. I always had so many days in the office and going on set and all the schlepping around. Everyone would think, oh god I would never want that job, it’s like the pits, it’s the worst of the worst, but that was the excitement for me. I didn’t care about opening a hundred trunks and unpacking them, because being on set and watching all of the hard work [being done], by myself and the market editors. Everything they had researched and found and the new pieces to excite Alex, how she then interpreted them and used them on set, is what made me think, okay wait, I think this is actually what I want to do. That definitely had a huge part of me staying in the industry and deciding to pursue more of the styling side of the industry.
What was it like working with Alex?
It was amazing. She is one of a kind. There are just these stylists that have changed everything in terms of publications and fashion and imagery and she is one of those. I’m so blessed that that is where I landed. Her reference points and how she comes up with her reference points are just so incredible. She does so much research in galleries and collects books and is inspired by art and she is also such a feminine stylist and a romantic. So really having that inspired me to push myself to become what I am today.
Which other stylists do you admire?
I worked with Jillian Davison at Teen Vogue and Havana Laffitte. I love both dearly and think they both have an incredible sense of style. Nancy Rohde is one of my absolute favourites. Laura Ferrara is incredible; I worked with her at Marie Claire. Isabel Dupré…it’s generally ones that I’ve worked closely with. I used to work with Joe Zee at W, he is so much fun to work with.
My readers wanted to know what makeup you use, especially your lipstick! What color do you use?
The funny thing is everyday, I just use a lip liner, which is Bobbi Brown Pink Mauve. I’ll branch out and do colours here and there. I do a lot of Nars, really bright colours. I have a Mac orange called Neon Orange.
For fashion week, how long does it take for you to get ready or do you just throw a bunch of clothes in your suitcase?
I pretty much take the new pieces that I’ve purchased obviously, mixed with my go-to pieces that I always take with me. It’s mostly separates. I don’t usually pack very many dresses just because I need to be able to mix things and change things up. I take two large Tumi duffels. I’m usually gone for about 28 days so it’s a lot of mixing and matching.
Anna Dello Russo was saying how she has everything planned six months beforehand and has it all sent over…
No, there is none of that for me. That is so not my style. Bless her, that’s amazing that she can do that.
Yes, she looks amazing all the time and you look amazing all the time, but sometimes I just want to go around in my pajamas!
Oh trust me, we all do! It’s hard sometimes to roll out and put the face on, but it’s part of the job and I do it twice a year and it’s exciting times. For me, I’m obsessed with my job and it’s the time we get to see all the new pieces. So I have all this adrenaline and I get excited about it, but of course there are always off days, especially now that editors are followed a lot more. If you are sick for example or you are not feeling good that day or whatever, there are still people around taking pictures, but there is nothing you can do about it, you just kind of keep moving.
What about the rest of the time like at work or when it’s not fashion week, can you just relax?
I’ll wear my Comme des Garçons drop-crotch pants with my sneakers. I’m always on the go, so I would say I’m 75% in a heel but the other 25% I’m in a sneaker running around the city…I’m not always ‘on’. You can’t always be ‘on’.
The Taylor Tomasi Hill for Lane Crawford collection can still be purchased in-store or online at
LaneCrawford.com. For those of you not in Asia, do not fret, LC ships internationally! So what
are you waiting for??