By this point in life, we’re secure in our relationships and privileged to have a network of friends we enjoy (and count on) as a core group, or at arm’s length. For the most part, we are “content” and not looking too hard or too far to expand our inner circles and create additional relationships (as we did in our early adult life, young marriage, and child-rearing days). Our energy is now focused on those we want to spend limited and valuable time with, and those that transmit a level of positive energy and influence in our lives as we do in theirs.
Having said that, there are rare moments (just when we least expect it) when individuals enter our lives, and we immediately connect and feel like we’ve known them forever. That is exactly what happened one afternoon this past July, when I met Lennard Taylor…
I was introduced to Lennard’s work at the Ronald McDonald House Fashion Show last spring, when I was immediately intrigued by his styles on the runway as well as the fact that he’s not only a local fashion designer with his own label but also an artist, who hand paints on many of his signature pieces. Michael (my husband) and I later discovered Lennard’s studio in the Exchange District, and were impressed by the clothing we saw and his string of sewing machines in the back. I hoped one day to meet him.
Then, in July, I received an unexpected call from Lennard. He was introduced to D by denise through a conversation he had with my dear (and young but wise) friend Lindy. He indicated he really liked what he saw and read on the site, and suggested we meet as soon as convenient. We did … later that same day. As mentioned above, the rest quickly fell into place and we became instant friends. Soon after, I met Lennard’s sister and business partner Laural, and the unexpected moment happened again.
After many visits and discussions with both Lennard and Laural over the fashion industry, the Lennard Taylor label, photo shoots, fall style guide creation, a custom gown for the WAG Gala Ball, and simply loving the pieces I have from his collection, today I introduce to you my dear friend and very talented fashion designer and artist, Lennard Taylor, President and Creative Director for Lennard Taylor Design Studio.
How did your clothing design vision come to life? After spending time in Europe trying to fulfil a dream of being a professional soccer player, I fell in love with the style and fashions of Europe. I loved the way clothing can make you feel better. For example, if you’re having a shit day, you can put on a great outfit and instantly feel better about yourself. When I came back from Europe, there wasn’t that selection of clothing and styles available, so I naturally started making them. I wanted to make people feel good with my clothing.
What do you love most about your work as a designer and artist? How it makes others feel. Often I get emails, phone calls, or face to face interactions where my clients thank me for how my work makes them feel. They explain how wearing it makes them feel great and how they’re happier when they wear my pieces, because people compliment them on how good they look. That is what makes me love my job.
What was the single most important thing in starting Lennard Taylor Design Studio? To make people smile and feel good. It’s my goal in life to make people smile and feel good, whether that’s with clothing, my art, or my words.
What inspires you? The world around me. I aim to be conscious of living in the moment, for this moment is all we truly have. I find that mindfulness allows me to see fine details, which in turn, allows my work to give its wearers confidence to achieve their daily goals.
What key elements do you consider in designing your pieces? Functionality, comfort, and balance. I think about my customers and where they’re going; what they’re doing and what they need out of their clothing. This is, of course, why my garments are named after my clients… because I’m thinking about them when I design.
Your favourite thing to do on weekends: Spend an hour stretching first thing when I wake up. After that, it’s spending time with my beautiful lady, Krystle. She usually has a plan for us to do something, if she doesn’t, I suggest going to the spa (because that is my favourite past time). 🙂
Your favourite way to celebrate with friends: Hang out or have cocktails. I feel very fortunate to have had a large group of friends since I was a child. I can really be myself around them, and just unwind and laugh. We are the type of friends that make fun of each other as a way of showing affection, so it’s always a good time filled with laughs and practical jokes.
Your favourite memory building your career: Wow, that’s a tough one! There are so many great things that have happened. I am truly grateful for all of them, but the one that sticks out most is having my big sister, Laural, come and join me on this journey. She and I have always been close, and getting to spend time with her each day is truly wonderful. I’m a better person because she’s by my side.
What are the trends for the holiday season? You know me: I don’t follow the trends! I just look at what my clients need and cater to them as best I can. If you need me to pinpoint one I would say red: it’s is a power colour and always in for the holiday season.
What pieces (from your holiday collection) do you recommend for the modern professional woman to go from daytime business wear to a holiday season dinner or cocktail party? There are a few from the holiday collection that are worth talking about. First, is the Audrey blazer for obvious reason. A classic black blazer is a must for any woman’s wardrobe! Second, is the Victoria palazzo pant. If you haven’t tried on a palazzo pant, do yourself a favour and try on a pair. They really are a girls best friend! Lastly, but certainly not least is the perfect little black dress, the Krystle dress. It is a four season dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. These pieces are all great for transitioning from the office to the evening holiday party for the modern woman. Versatility is everything in clothing, especially in our busy world!
If you had to pick one piece from your collection, what style would you recommend every modern woman have in her closet, and why? Hands down, the Brenda swing shirt. If you don’t have a Brenda swing shirt in your life, do yourself a favour and try her out. She’s diverse, clean, and able to modify to whatever occasion you find yourself in. Pair her with tights, palazzo pants, culottes, a pencil skirt, or wear her open-faced like a duster with a pair of jeans. Brenda will not let you down.
What’s the best way to care for your pieces? Don’t wash them! If they have an odour but are not visibly dirty: that’s bacteria. You can kill bacteria by putting it in a plastic bag in the freezer for a day or two. If you do wash, spot cleaning is a good technique. If you full wash, a cold water hand wash is best. That said, don’t worry if you need to wash my garments. You can throw them in the washer, but no driers please (it ruins the fabric and integrity of the piece). Also: if you ever stain my clothing and can’t get it out, all is not lost. Send it to me and I will paint over top of the stain, and make your garment look fabulous! I believe in clothing for life, not a season. Too much of our world is disposable and your clothing doesn’t have to be. It tells a story of who we are and where we’ve been. What does your clothing say about you?
What are you proudest of when you think of your work? My proudest moments are making people smile and feel good, I truly feel lucky each time I see someone smile in my work. It gives me goosebumps, and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. I am truly grateful that I get to do what I love, and use my art to make a positive impact in the world. There is always a silver lining or something positive you can take away from any circumstance.
Just as Lennard says, look for the silver lining in life. It’s remarkable what we can accomplish when we simply focus on trying to create a smile in another’s world. Letting the story play out as it is supposed to, rather from expectation, is often so magical and in my life has resulted in so many cherished friendships. This is what’s special about being a modern middle aged woman: letting life “be” as it is meant to.
So sink in, because the holidays are upon us, and everyone can use a smile or two in the bustle of holiday prep. And…because we can!
Denise is wearing Lennard Taylor: Carmyn Coat, Victoria Pant, Audrey Blazer, Krystle Dress
For the latest collections from Lennard Taylor, visit his Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter or subscribe to his List
Photography: Silas Chipelski
D by denise Journal is published bi-weekly. To subscribe and receive directly to your inbox click here.