Juicy Couture Duo Launches Skaist Taylor

BY VIRGINIA GIL | November 19, 2012 | Home Page

Fashion lovers clutch to a good comeback story the same way they do bargains. They follow designers from genius to absurdity—titillated by collections, disappointed by sartorial misses, and anxious for new creations. This kind of devotion is likely at play in the early success of Skaist Taylor, the new line from Juicy Couture founders Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor. Following a brief hiatus from fashion, the duo have come together once more, putting out what they dub “California Eccentric,” a blend of high-end, no-fuss, laid-back style that for them is more a way of being than dressing. “It’s casual glam with a mix of our favorite pieces,” says Skaist-Levy about the line that, for the LA best friends, transcends geography. (Nash-Taylor also resides in London.) “It’s an indefinable mix, a wardrobe that feels pulled together over time, without a specific origin.”

Perhaps because the start of the line is, well, indefinite. “[It’s been] forever—we never stopped collaborating and dreaming,” says Nash-Taylor. Juicy Couture and Skaist Taylor, two different incarnations of the California dream, were developed through a decades-long friendship and a shared love of comfortable clothes. “We couldn’t imagine glam without comfort [or] being able to do what we love together,” says Nash-Taylor almost matter-of-factly. The pair’s close personal and professional relationship has lent itself to an even more harmonious approach to fashion. “We feed off each other, our friends, our own collections— it’s collaborative in every respect.”

The two had a bit of a fashion Cinderella story, starting Juicy Couture in a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles and growing it into a multimillion- dollar brand, known for brightly colored utilitarian pieces ranging anywhere from velour tracksuits with kitschy slogans to handbags with cleverly labeled compartments. In 2003, the pair sold Juicy Couture to Liz Claiborne Inc. (now Fifth & Pacific Companies, parent company to Kate Spade and Lucky Brand Jeans) for more than $200 million and remained onboard as designers for seven years. Once creative control waned, so did their interest, and in 2010 Skaist-Levy and Nash- Taylor left the company to start fresh.

If Juicy Couture was a reflection of how the two friends dressed then, Skaist Taylor is entirely how they dress now, arguably with a larger budget, as pieces range from the low $200s to more than $1,000. Where Juicy had a terry-cloth babydoll dress, the new line opts for an embroidered caftan; where Juicy did velour and rhinestones, Skaist Taylor relies on ruffles and fringe. “We wear everything; there is a bit of each of us in each piece,” says Nash-Taylor, who draws inspiration from both her and Skaist-Levy’s wardrobes. “We create every piece in our collection because it is something we want to wear.” The collection is peppered with hints of unexpected luxury in the same sense that Juicy Couture was in the beginning, as it shies away from any deliberate attempts at high fashion. The clothes play more on a vibe and mood than a specific moment or trend, and the line is admittedly “completely autobiographical.” And the clever labels, this time, are branded with THE GLOVES ARE OFF.

Their Fall 2012 ready-to-wear collection, which they introduced at Neiman Marcus Coral Gables and Bal Harbour earlier this year (the theme of the show was “Because the Sky Is Blue”), saw shrugs, maxi dresses, and blouses; but it also reflected the boomerang effect of 1970s fashion with flowy peasant skirts, paisley frocks, wide-leg trousers, billowy blouses, and little black dresses topped with vests. The 2013 Spring line that made its way down the runway during New York’s Fashion Week this past September is filled with pops of orange, brightly colored minis, metallic leather, lace crochet tops and dresses, and lots more fringe.

Regardless of geographical location at odds with a line focused on fur and layering, Miami locals are primed to swallow up the boho threads just as they did the cozy velour tracksuits in year-round summer weather. “The line is amazing and unexpected,” says Ysset Boan, owner of Style CTZN boutique in Wynwood, about the duo’s latest collaboration. “I think all of the chiffon pieces and long dresses can work very well [in Miami].” Part of the appeal of Skaist Taylor is that it speaks to a laid-back lifestyle that’s true of beachy areas on both coasts, but it’s the sheer dresses that reflect our city’s vibe. As fall unfolds, it’s uncertain how some of the heavier pieces will fare when the weather cools, but standouts such as the metallic minis and backless dresses are poised to do well year-round.

And for the women who love accessories? The pair plans to give them something to covet, too: Friends and retailers went wild for the high-heeled booties the girls designed exclusively for the Fall/Winter 2012 runway (and themselves), and it’s been duly noted, shares Nash-Taylor. “We absolutely would like to expand at the right moment, likely as the brand continues to build.”

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photography courtesy of skaist taylor (nash-Taylor and Skaist-Levy); WORLDREDEYE.COM/NATHAN VALENTINE (NASH-TAYLOR, SKAIST-LEVY); REBECCA SAHN (BOOTIE)

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