Taylor Ormond, FIT Student

I think I may have met the next big thing. Really though, Taylor Ormond is one talented young woman. About a month ago, I watched a sneak peek of Martha Stewart’s Shriek or Chic contest. All the girls were talented, but Taylor was easily the standout star of the show. She has a lot of talent and arguably even more personality. (Everything she did on the series cracked me up…. and her final costume was stunning.)

Taylor and Martha, who wore it better?

After I saw her on screen, I knew she would be an interesting person to meet and interview for TCP. (Plus, we can all say we knew her way back when…) I met Taylor downtown at FIT’s campus in between her classes to get to know her and her designs a bit more. Let’s just say, I was impressed by what I saw on the video series and floored when I saw her notebook and portfolio. Dare I say, I think Taylor is a genius.

1. Have you always been into fashion and fashion design?
I’ve always known I’ve wanted to do something related to the arts be it painting, writing, and/or fashion. An early memory of mine is leaning over to the girl next me informing her she was in fact drawing the butterfly incorrectly and continued to show her how it was done. Ten years later I was entering high school and wanted nothing to do with the golden boy reputation my brother left behind so I found sanctuary in the art department, a place untouched by big brother. 

Through advance art classes and home ec I found myself shaping into quite the creative housewife. As the notorious senior year was approaching I applied to a number of universities and art colleges, FIT being the only one related to fashion. With the acceptance rate of FIT at 10% my expectations were not high despite the fact that I could sew a mean pillowcase. But the moment I got the call from an out of breath mother that a thin letter had arrived from FIT two weeks early she quickly ripped it open and read in disbelief that I was part of a select few to receive early admissions. That was the moment I decided to take the plunge and dive head first into the sporadic crazy world we call fashion plus they gave me a free t-shirt. 
2. What kinds of things did you do in high school (classes, clubs, competitions, etc.) that helped set you up for success in college?
I attended Whitney M. Young Magnet High School that specializes in the maths and sciences and is nationally known for our outstanding sports teams. I, of course, could not care less why a ball falls at a certain velocity when the wind is blowing from the east and the building is ten stories high or about seven foot kid who would one day play for the NBA who sat two rows behind me in trig. Instead I immersed myself in what was important to me, not what my family or friends liked but what I was interested in and that was the arts. I’m a strong believer in focusing in one thing and doing it well versus being involved in everything and only giving my 10% to each project.

As a sophomore I joined Gallery 37’s, a non-for profit organization supporting the arts of Chicago Public Schools, Painting on Canvas class that changed my life. To say the least, I didn’t have natural talent when it came to the arts but after three years of dedication and hard work I came out of the class teaching it.

So through specializing in high school and determining what my priorities were I was unlike many of my friends who entered big universities undecided and ended up transferring the following year to a school in there specialization.

Getting an education in the arts is probably the most unstable path one can choose in line of work but I believe it also the field where one learns most. Unlike math or science where there is a set problem and definite answer in art problems arise and one has to create a solution, which is similar to how life works.

3. What’s the most challenging aspect of being a student at FIT? The best aspect?
Going to a school like FIT whose past alum list include Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, and Nina Garcia and whose future alum list will be nothing short of prestige, to say the least, can intimidating. My favorite memory of my freshman year had to be what we thought was a professor’s pep talk but instead turned into a reality check. He instructed us to look to the left and then the right and said, “Meet your competition.” But despite the cutthroat hunger game-esque camaraderie it is also the pro in attending FIT. I am just as inspired by my peers and classmates as I am my professors. 
4. Talk us through your emotions when Martha Stewart chose your design as the winning costume!
Thank the Lord we had a week in between in finding out who the winner was because after working three weeks straight with little to no sleep I might of just died in finding out I won. Looking back at that memory it was almost like watching TV and seeing someone else win and wiping away the cliché Miss America tears. Then to be able to watch myself on the web-series win only re-confirms this out of body experience I have looking back at it. It was nothing like receiving a scholarship or getting into that dream school because it was on stage in front of an audience versus being alone or in my own environment. To be honest I just truly couldn’t believe that I had won and only me (if that makes any sense).

5. The costume you made for Martha was uniquely based on her love of orchids… How do you come up with inspiration for your projects and designs?
If I’m not prior given any guidelines or instructions, as narcissistic as this sounds, I’m truly inspired by Myself. Which can include everything from my current surroundings, to the book or TV show I’m absorbed in, to a distant memory of my childhood.

For the Martha Stewart inspiration the starting point had to be the make up. With this costume being about Martha and not me I wanted her to have personal connection to it versus is just being another Halloween costume. After doing research and learning about her love of orchids and green thumb the character Martha Nature evolved throughout the three-week process.

6. Have you had any “pinch me” moments so far?
If you are lucky you get about three, four “pinch me” moments in life. I’ve had about nine “pinch me/ slap me on the side of the head” moments this past year. It all started with my Michael Kors Scholarship Nomination during my second semester. After making it to the final round I along with ten other students had the privilege of sitting down with Michael (first name basis) himself and reviewing or portfolio. But then came along Martha Stewart who turned my world upside down and there are just too many moments to count. Meeting Ralph Rucci and getting his feedback and advice on my garment was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. And, just the other day sitting in Washing Square Park binging upon Dominos with my best friend we turned to each other smiled and said, “This real life.”

7. You’ve had some amazing internships, what steps helped you land the jobs?
This past summer I had the pleasure of interning for Alice and Olivia. A great resource to looking for fashion internships with out going through school is Free Fashion Internships. Everything from design assistants, to PR, to merchandising is on there. But my checklist in preparing for an interview is:
1. Updated Portfolio
2. My firmest but not overbearing hand shake
3. A few (not to many that’s over kill) witty/ puny remarks
4. Prepared questions for the interviewer 
5. “My 100 watt smile” – Eve from Life Size (awful but also fantastic movie)

8. Do you have a mentor or someone you really look up to for fashion design?
It is so important to find a mentor in whatever field you are pursuing and to remain in contact with them after school for truly the learning really begins once we leave the classroom. Ironically enough I ended up clicking with the professor who told me on the first day of class 95% of us will work at Macy’s in sales. He was both my first and second semester pattern-making professor who completely changed my life not only in my approach to design but my idea of success. I look to him for advice on both fashion and not so fashionable problems. It was because of him that I was able to understand and construct Martha Stewarts costume. Professor Bess is truly the best!

9. What advice do you have for someone who wishes to pursue a career in fashion?
First off, you do not have to dress fashionable to live a fashionable life. I’m all for an ugly arch supportive shoe; Dr. Scholl’s are good alternative for those Stewart Weitzman over the knee high boots! Secondly, decide what area in Fashion you want to work. The industry is huge! If you’re a math nerd from MIT who secretly covets a Celine Trapeze there is definitely a job for you, numbers, and your handbag in the marketing, sales, product development, customer analyzation …. the list goes on and on. And third, have fun and remember fashion is a business but it also the acetate tutus we dressed up in as children pretending they were Valentino and Chanel! 
10. What is the best advice someone has given you?
The best advice I’ve ever received was actually from my talent scout who found me for the Martha Stewart Competition. Sinead would constantly say, “You do you, Girl.” Go with you gut and do what you believe to be best. 

Keep up with Taylor’s work on Instagram!

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