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Last updated: Thu. Aug. 28, 2014 - 10:24 am EDT

Teenager lives dream with new fashion line

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AUSTIN, Texas – At the age of 9, Isabella Rose Taylor – a painter since she was 3 – took a weeklong sewing class with an eye toward incorporating textiles into her artwork. She quickly discovered a love for fashion design as well, taking the class twice more that summer. Now, at 13, her line is debuting at Nordstrom stores this fall, and she is set to have her first show at New York Fashion Week.

“It just started out as a really fun hobby, and it grew into a business over the years,” Taylor said at her home in Austin, Texas, where she has converted one room into a studio and another into an office. She added, “I just really fell in love with it the way I fell in love with art, and I realized that I just had so much fun connecting the two.”

With inspiration from an abstract mixed-media painting she did when she was younger that includes reds, grays, blues, mustard yellow and neutral earthy tones, Taylor created a fall line with a “street grunge vibe” and “modern hippie” inspiration. “It all started with the colors of the painting for me,” Taylor said.

Jennifer Jackson Brown, a corporate merchandise manager for Nordstrom, said Taylor's line was a good fit for their juniors section. She said that at the same time she was contacted by Taylor's camp, her team had been trying to track Taylor down after seeing her on a television appearance.

“What we really liked about her is that she is actually the age of customers, so there's that relatability factor that she has,” Jackson Brown said. “And on top of it, she's quite aspirational for them at the same time.”

Jackson Brown said they were not only impressed with her “keen sense of creating,” but also with her ability to explain how each piece works with the others and how the collection came together. “She's actually quite a visionary at the age of 13,” Jackson Brown said.

“I think sometimes what a designer misses is that people want to understand how to dress head-to-toe, and she was able to do that,” Jackson Brown said.

Taylor's fall collection includes “shorties,” high-waisted shorts made of a soft knit that can be paired with leggings and boots. There's also a flannel jacket featuring one of the details she likes to include: a tiny American flag button on the pocket. A jersey baby doll dress and a henley tunic dress feature the painting that inspired the collection.

Taylor said that after taking the sewing classes, she gradually got more ­serious about fashion, making clothes for friends, designing a collection and eventually getting a handful of items produced and selling them online and at trunk shows. Her line is now produced in Los Angeles.

Taylor went to school on an accelerated schedule, graduating from high school at 11 and now attending community college.

Sherri Taylor said it was apparent early on that her daughter had an aptitude for art. “When she was really young, we really noticed how she played with colors, and it was just very unusual,” she said. “We knew that something was happening, so we just kept buying her more colors.”

“She's tried a lot of different things, and some things stuck and something things didn't, but art and fashion have been consistent,” she said, adding that her daughter's fashion career “just kind of snowballed.”

Jennifer LaTorre-Daly, a 20-year veteran of the fashion industry, joined Taylor's team last fall as the New York-based strategic planning director, focusing on getting Taylor's clothes in major retail outlets. “It's a great concept: She's designing for her peers,” LaTorre-Daly said.

Taylor said that even though her schedule can be hectic, she enjoys it and feels like she has a good balance of school, art, fashion and just hanging out with friends. And she points out that she has friends who are just as busy with interests such as acting or dance.

“The way I see it is I get to follow my dream and be a teenager at the same time,” she said.

“I think I'm pretty lucky in that respect,” she said.


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