Designer and creative director Rebecca Taylor on Tuesday is marking her return with the debut of her new, self-funded fashion label, A’Court.
“It’s called A’Court, which is my middle name and is a family name,” Taylor said during a New York preview appointment of the brand’s first edition capsule. “I love it because it doesn’t sound like a boy’s or girl’s name and I wanted to do a collection that reflected more of who I am. I’ve always been a bit more tomboy, ironically. I started in the ’90s — you turn down various roads and then you end up at a certain place…this was a time for me to be able to reset and come back to what I really felt passionate about. There are those key things that never leave me: beautiful shirting with feminine detail, and inspiration of Victorian [dress] of Victorian novels and how Victorian women lived.”
In 2019, Taylor left her eponymous, feminine contemporary label — which she founded in 1996 with business partner Beth Bugdaycay — to recharge her batteries. In September, Vince Holding Corp. (who purchased the Rebecca Taylor and its Parker label in November 2019 from Sun Capital), announced the labels would be discontinued.
Since the departure, the designer and her family moved back to her native New Zealand after a sabbatical in Paris; there Taylor began crafting her personal brand, A’Court, which is not affiliated with her former label or its products.
“I really wanted to launch something that felt new and modern — I wanted to launch it on my own terms and to be very small and very considered,” she said of A’Court, which is designed in New Zealand and handmade in small batches in both a family-run factory in Italy for the premium Italian cotton styles and in New Zealand for the locally sourced, undyed hand-crochet alpaca styles. The line was described as “the very definition of slow fashion,” with evergreen “editions” of seasonless styles that will be available in limited quantities exclusively through the brand’s direct-to-consumer website.
“The whole talk of fashion sustainability — it’s not really a thing, because none of us need more clothes, but we want them. I think if you do it very mindfully and edit as much waste — some of the old ways of doing it was creating a collection every four weeks, dumping half the samples, etcetera. I wanted something that was completely turning that upside down,” Taylor said.
“Making clothing with rigor and restraint feels increasingly relevant today,” a collection statement echoed.
Taylor’s first edition, launching Tuesday, is comprised of six timeless, garment-washed silhouettes of 100 percent cotton blouses and dresses, and two hand-crocheted alpaca shawls, designed to be “future heirlooms” and priced $345 to $825. A’Court was said to be inspired by her homeland’s history and raw beauty, as well as by the functional yet feminine dress of her favorite heroines of 19th-century historical literature, with styles named after these inspirations, like the “Edith” [Wharton] blouse. The capsule embraces a feminine spirit across menswear shirting-inspired styles with pin tucks, subtle scalloped and fringed hems, mother-of-pearl buttons, soft volumes and a delicate floral motif. The line’s strength lies not only within its subtle details, but through its versatile wearability.
“When I came up with A’Court, I knew I wanted to do shirting because there isn’t enough out there, frankly, that’s for women with a feminine twist. It’s evergreen, so we’ll be doing two capsules a year and I’ll come to New York twice a year to do the photo shoot, then we’ll be releasing it throughout the year so I’ll have a flow coming from Italy. My whole thing was trying to come up with constant newness without reinventing the wheel every four weeks,” she explained, adding future styles and categories [hinting at jewelry and fragrance] will continue to uphold the brand’s overall timeless, easy-to-wear sensibility. The designer also envisions hosting future pop-ups at a florist or intimate shopping events.
“It’s good — I’m ready but want to go forward with the opportunities that e-commerce and this whole new-age offer. We had to do things a certain way [in the past], and it’s a deeply flawed way of doing business, but now I’m really energized and enjoying it, and I never thought I would say that again,” she said. She is financing the line herself, she noted. “I’m very frugal, but I always have been since I self-financed the other business. I’m having to be a jack of all trades.”
Taylor said she’s hoping A’Court’s message will spread organically, she said. “On my launch page, it says ‘By Rebecca Taylor,’ with a little disclaimer. People who need to know will know, and hopefully, there will be a word of mouth. I want to make sure it stays super authentic, distilled and the message very clear.”