Taylor Anne Abess is one of those New York girls you pass in the street and wonder who she is and what she does.
With her striking cropped platinum locks and her towering heels, Taylor doesn’t easily pass by unnoticed… but she isn’t just about clothes and style. Okay, she is, but she’s made it her business.
Taylor is the founder of the multi-designer showroom, Parlor, on Mercer Street in Soho. Her current roster of designers includes:
What is your background? How did you get started in the fashion business and finally open a showroom?
After college I went to work for a family friend’s investment banking firm in Beverly Hills. I quickly learned that banking wasn’t my industry. I left to join a startup fashion company that bought overstock from all the major denim brands, which it then sold at trunk shows at universities around the country. We promoted the sales at Monday night sorority meetings. The whole venture was hilarious and immensely successful. One of the denim brands hired me away to run its west coast wholesale division. As I learned more about the wholesale industry, I decided to pack up and move to NYC to transition into full collection wholesale. I went to work at a multi-label showroom representing women’s contemporary and young designer brands—Rag & Bone, Mara Hoffman, Kenzo, Sass & Bide, Kimberly Ovitz, and the like—and quickly rose to the position of director. Three years later I decided it was time to open my own showroom that would operate under a different sales philosophy while working closely with designers on merchandising, fabric sourcing, overall design consulting and presentation.
How is your showroom different from other ones in New York City?
Parlor works according to a showroom-within-a-showroom type of staging model that gives greater attention and visibility to each of the brands we represent, making sure that their lines stand out in an over-saturated and fiercely competitive market. We work with designers throughout the entire design process, starting with their initial concepts and helping to translate those concepts into marketable, well-rounded collections that bring new ideas and visions into contemporary fashion. Every designer we work with has a finely tailored target list, sales strategy program and projections. We have been very successful in launching emerging designers, many of which have been recognized by the CFDA, including Timo Weiland, Whit, Rachel Antonoff, and Samantha Pleet. Our current roster is the strongest we’ve had yet and we expect to see our designers in major stores and boutiques throughout the world.
Besides handling sales for the designers you represent, what else does running a showroom involve?
There are really two parts. The first involves nurturing our designers and, again, making sure that they have a clear voice within the market. The second is customer service and managing our accounts/buyers. We have close relationships with buyers throughout the world and it’s important for my staff to communicate with them frequently to ensure that the collections are selling, that store employees are familiar with and excited about the brands so they can retail them to their customers. We read a lot of sales figure reports! Parlor also works on special projects for our designers. We pitch capsule collections to stores like Anthropologie. Special projects are a great way to broaden consumer awareness at introductory price points.
What’s the best part about your job?
The clothes! And the experience of watching a brand succeed, of being a part of that process.
Telling a designer that a store they really wanted to be in has passed for the season.
Any advice to someone looking to open a showroom or work in a showroom environment?
Be organized and stay positive. There will be a lot of “nos,” but then you get a “YES” and suddenly the game changes.
I know you go from meetings during the day to different events at night or a dinner… Any fashion/beauty tricks from going from day to night?
Always keep sexy heels and a clutch by your desk.
You now split your time between New York and Miami – I love Miami, but have no idea where to go other than the beach and The Webster. Can you share a few of your favorite addresses with us? (Fashion-related, beauty-related, restaurants, galleries or culture-related?)
- The Wolfsonian, a research institute and museum in Miami Beach, holds one of the most fascinating collections in the world—around 150,000 objects from the period 1851 to 1945 (the height of the Industrial Revolution to the end of the Second World War) in a variety of media, from fine and decorative arts to graphic design and industrial design, rare publications, and ephemera.
There are some fabulous fashion design portfolios and an incredible set of Viennese modernist textile samples. I may be biased given that my husband, Matthew Abess, is one of the curators there. But truly, it is one of the city’s gems.
- Gallery Diet in the Wynwood district is undoubtedly the most exciting commercial gallery and project space in the city. Its founder and director, Nina Johnson-Milewski, has an amazing talent for finding and presenting fantastic contemporary art. You can walk around the corner and grab a coffee, prosecco, or art magazine at Lester’s, owned by her husband Dan.
- There are a number of private art collectors in Miami who have opened their collections to the public—the Martin Z. Margulies Collection, housed in a complex of warehouses in Wynwood, rivals even the best museums.
- The best luxury brand shopping is in the rapidly developing Design District—think Celine, Marni, Prada, Cartier, and so forth. THE ALCHEMIST on Lincoln Road and The Webster on Collins Ave are the best curated boutiques in Miami.
- If you want incredible designer vintage, then it’s all about C. Madeleine’s, where they organize their wares by decade.
- For vintage and antique furniture, the somewhat dodgy stretch of NE 125th Street in North Miami has a whole host of stores that specialize in top condition furnishings, from Art Deco to Mid-Century with some more contemporary pieces thrown into the mix.
- There’s Sean Donaldson Hair for all your beauty needs.
- The best restaurants, hands down, are Pubbelly, Pubbelly Sushi, and Barceloneta, all owned and operated by the same group. Joe’s Stone Crab is a delicious throwback to the earlier days of Miami Beach. And of course Caribbean and Latin American food is tasty and abundant.
If you didn’t own Parlor, what would you be doing?
Tropical island resort critic and flamingo print connoisseur.