Three Ways Hillary Taymour’s Equestrian Past Influences her Design

12/06/2010

“My dad’s a gynecologist, and my mom is a horse lover. I knew how to ride horses before I could walk,” says handbag designer Hillary Taymour, who was so serious about the sport back in the day that the Olympics were a realistic possibility. That saddle-filled and fiercely competitive upbringing has affected the way she approaches both the aesthetic and entrepreneurial decisions behind her polished-yet-relaxed line of leather and canvas bags, Collina Strada. Here, she draws the connections between riding and designing:

“I was maybe two. And I have on Minnie Mouse socks.” 

On working hard for the money: “Growing up, I went to school at 6a and got out at noon so I could go ride, every day. We’d drive an hour to go to the best trainer. Then, there was a six-week horse show in the desert that we went to, and I’d have a private tutor. My mom was a like a stage mom for horses. I rode other people’s horses for them when they were at school. I got paid for that, so it was kind of like a business. And going to horse shows is like $3,000 a weekend—you’re either serious, or you’re not. You have to understand money and what that means.”

“That’s me when I’m eight. That chin strap is so huge.”

On learning to work with leather: “I know a lot about leather—how it gets worn in and how to treat it. I had an Hermès saddle growing up and custom-made boots and all that shit. I definitely learned how to make leather look nice. I had to polish it and take care of it. I think it gave me a little bit more of a classic aesthetic.”

“I got to get all the cool outfits. I’d say ‘I’ll go to this horse show, Mom, if you buy me a new jacket—I want a gray one.’”

On keeping things classy: “Because I was surrounded by all those conservative people—I was the one trying to wear little sparkly belts under my riding jacket and getting yelled at by my trainer—I definitely learned that there’s a taste level involved with becoming a household name. There’s a reason that Ralph Lauren is a household name—no matter what, you associate class with him. There’s give and take between being trendy and being tasteful.”

Photos courtesy of Hillary Taymour

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