Grace Intertwined with Eccentricity: The Ethos of Tyler McGillivary
At the heart of Brooklyn, Tyler McGillivary can be found translating her design fantasies into her craft. McGillivary is the founder of 'Tyler McGillivary', a womenswear label that pairs bold colors and playful textiles with versatile fabrics and silhouettes. Some of her most notable pieces include larger-than-life flower halters that bloom from the breast and dresses featuring collaged images of sunsets. The vision behind these particular garments is to allow women to embody nature in order to reconnect with mother earth.
Here, McGillivary articulates the entire spectrum of the creative and production challenge - spanning from her attention to every detail in the process of creating her garments to overcoming a creative rut to developing new color palettes and building relationships with her manufacturers in India. 'Tyler McGillivary' is a product of unrestricted and unconditional creative agency and meticulous craftsmanship of vivid designs.
Above Photo: @cafe_forgot Model: @zeliseb
Tell me how you got into designing womenswear. Did you feel comfortable entering such a competitive industry?
Through college and for a few months after I graduated I worked for the designer Samantha Pleet where I learned pretty much everything about clothing design from choosing fabrics to pattern making and sewing to more of the business side of production and wholesaling. Then right before I graduated from NYU I gave myself this sort of self-imposed ultimatum where I drew this flower top and a pair of matching pants and essentially was like if you can make this you’re going to commit to doing design and if you can’t you have to figure something else out. Luckily, I made it because who knows what I would otherwise be doing… I don’t know if I’ll ever be entirely comfortable in the industry and in some ways I think it’s good that I’m not. I feel like with all creative work, being comfortable can halt growth and I’m excited to be in this place where I’m learning so much so rapidly.
Photo/Direction: @deathfonte and @cafe_forgot Model: @_paulena_ Flowers: @kensmithworkshop
Do you make all these pieces on your own? Where do you make your garments?
I used to make all the pieces on my own, but in August I started to work with a factory in Noida, India that I’ve flown to visit twice over the past year. It’s really important to me to go out there each season both to oversee the production of my designs, but also to meet and build relationships with the people producing my clothes. I also think it’s so important for young designers to help each other out with parts of the industry like production because it can be hard to find factories and people you trust.
What is the story behind the flower top collection?
The flower tops are my favorite thing to make and my favorite thing I’ve designed. I just don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than a flower and when you wear one of the tops you just become a flower yourself. Ideally I would just make a collection of a ton of different flowers, but for my SS20 collection I know so far I want a pansy, an orchid and some sort of peony or camellia. I haven’t seen anyone style one with green pants yet, but that’s really my dream outfit for them.
Photo and Styling: @emmahastil Model: @marysucaet
What draws you to often use patterns and vibrant colors in your pieces?
I’ve always been drawn to playful patterns and vibrant colors, I think it’s just the way my brain works and what I find the most inspiring. Wearing color always gives me the same feeling I used to get drawing as a kid when you got a new box of crayons or markers and you could just color the world however you wanted it to look. Getting dressed is sort of like painting your body with clothes, and I just can’t bring myself to pick neutral colors when I could use pink or orange or an allover spiral print.
How do you hope women experience and receive your garments?
My goal is for women to feel creative and sexy in my clothes. I think a lot about the impact of dress on identity and how clothes are so intrinsic to our sense of self and to how we feel. As a designer, I want to create pieces that enable women to feel like the most confident, authentic version of themselves.
What type of woman represents your brand?
I don’t think there’s a single type of woman that I design for or that represents my brand, except that I make sure I would genuinely want to wear everything that I make. I really want the clothes to appeal to women across a range of interests, ages and tastes. I think a lot about my girlfriends when I design and how they all have different senses of style and work in different fields, but I want all of them to wear my pieces and feel fabulous in them. I just want to empower women to wear whatever they want and to show off their personalities and bodies in the way that makes them feel sexy and strong.
Model: @stacycollado Photo: @adamkremer Makeup: @carolinebaribeau
Would you consider your pieces quirky? Who or what inspires you to create?
I’d describe the clothes as playful and surreal. I’m inspired a lot by animation, graphic novels, art and furniture design. I remember watching Fantastic Planet for the first time and thinking about how the film struck this perfect balance for me between beauty, bizarreness and the fantastical and that’s what I’m looking to hit on. I feel the same way about the furniture of Ettore Sottsass and more simply about plants like orchids or venus fly traps, where there’s just this grace intertwined with oddity. If I’m in a creative rut, I just try to seek out imagery that interests and excites me. Whether it’s just scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest or wandering around New York stopping into different plant and bookstores I just like to collect images that I can return to later and remember that a certain combination of colors or silhouette inspired me.
What’s next for you?
I want to keep working on design and learn as much as I can about textiles, fabrics and the production process and to grow my line into a more profitable and lasting brand. Ideally, also in the next couple of years, I would like to add shoes and handbags to the line because I just want to wear a pair of shoes where the heels are spirals.