Born and raised in Baltimore where she now resides, fashion designer and illustrator Taylor Ramsie‘s love of fashion from a young has very much been shaped by the industry’s inability to recognize her. In an essay addressing her relationship with fashion, she wrote, My love of fashion ironically grew from my absolute hatred of it. My body was not one that was easily dressed as a child. As a 12-year old my closet was filled with ‘mom store’ labels and missy prints. This was the problem that would ultimately become my purpose.”
Ramsie is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University where she earned a degree in fashion design and has since gone on to work as as a freelance illustrator and designer. As a fashion artist, she has been inspired to help fix fashion through reimagined runway looks to make them more representational and inclusive. “The problem that I encountered was not finding beautiful clothes for larger bodies and it is absolutely one that I wish to solve,” explained Ramsie, who has reimagined looks from recent runways by Valentino, Jacquemus, Area and LaQuan Smith among others.
Snobette: You graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in fashion design. Did you become interested in illustration while attending college?
Taylor Ramsie: “I was officially educated about fashion illustration while in college, but drawing has been a part of my life since about the age of six. Learning about the art of fashion illustration absolutely pushed me to incorporate it more into my everyday artistry.”
Snobette: What would you say piqued your interest in design whether a family member, toy, music video or TV show?
Taylor Ramsie: “Barbie, Bratz and MyScene dolls. My mom started buying me dolls when I was about three or four and she said that I would request to be taken to the store to choose outfits for said dolls.
“My grandpa would take me to Toys “R” Us after school and I would spend a ridiculous amount of time exploring the outfits for my dolls. I would carefully choose my outfits and then happily go back home and add them to my collection. In addition to Barbie Dolls, my mother also bought me “Project Runway” design kits and design challenge sketchbooks because she could see my interest in fashion and design.
Snobette: You mentioned on LinkedIn that your relationship with fashion as a child was not a good one in part because you weren’t able to find clothing that reflected your age and tastes. How did you use art as a young person to work through your frustrations with the fashion Industry?
Taylor Ramsie: “As a young person, I found a lot of comfort in art and I think I used my confidence in my artistry as a stand-in for my lack of confidence with myself and my body.
“In reference to design, I’d say that I used my frustration as motivation to further inspire me to search for or carve out my place in fashion. I felt that there was a problem that needed to be solved. One of which was the issue of me, a child, not being able to simply dress as a child because of my size. Later on, the issue became that I was not the only one and that my struggles were going to continue as I grew into a young adult.”
Snobette: What materials, apps or programs do you use to do your illustrations? How many hours per week do you dedicate to your craft?
Taylor Ramsie: “I use a mixture of paper and pencil and my iPad Pro + Apple Pencil. Sometimes I use paper and pencil to sketch out my digital designs. On my iPad Pro I use a digital illustration app called Procreate. I’d say that on average, I spend about 20 hours a week working on illustrations and designs, all while having a full time job.”
Snobette: In your comments on a recent Jacquemus-inspired illustration, you wrote, “If I don’t see myself walking down the runway then I’ll reimagine it.” Have you thought about taking that a step further with your own clothing designs?
Taylor Ramsie: “Absolutely. Honestly, for me the thought sometimes seems outrageous because of my schooling and how stuck in its ways the industry is. I was never taught how to make clothing for a larger body and it was never really talked about unless I brought it up, so I’ve been teaching myself.
“I’ve actually been designing collections with the plus-size body in mind first rather than as a secondary thought like we’re accustomed to seeing. I’m planning on starting to actually bring these designs to life very soon and I hope to build into something bigger.”
Snobette: What types of companies have you worked with? What would be the dream job whether as a full time consultant or with a particular company?
Taylor Ramsie: “So far, I’ve worked with up and coming brands. I did illustrations and technical accessory-focused work for VV Patchouli, and I did a graphic-based New York Fashion Week collaboration with Kimberly Goldson.
“My dream job would definitely involve designing beautiful, comfortable and functional clothing for curvier bodies. Either with a company that has inclusive sizing or one which focuses solely on garments for larger sizes. I’ve never really had a ‘dream company’ but I would love to work with Zelie for She, Hanifa or Fe Noel.
Snobette: Have you found the fashion industry is doing a better job accommodating an array of sizes? Even if your answer is yes, where is more improvement needed?
Taylor Ramsie: “Much better. I feel like the industry is finally realizing that big bodies can be sexy, high fashion, and deserve fun clothes too. However, the industry as a whole needs to challenge itself, especially our luxury faves, to actually design for the curvy body.
“Unfortunately, fashion is stuck in a ‘Let’s start at this very small sample size and then we’ll figure out everything else later’ mindset, making some of the most important aspects of sizing second thoughts. Plus-sized garments and their straight size sisters need to be designed simultaneously.
“Also, unfortunately, the education surrounding fashion is very limited in the space of body inclusivity. Students are receiving a pretty limited scope from the jump, which very accurately represents the industry.”
Snobette: What brands whether fast fashion, athletic or luxury have given you a shred of hope in terms of providing better expanded sizing options?
Taylor Ramsie: “Christian Siriano, Aune Collections (above), Hanifa, Zelie for She, Love Vera, Nike, ASOS, American Eagle and Parade.”
Snobette: We had a big discussion on ClubHouse about Miu Miu‘s abdomen-baring mini skirts for spring and fall 2022. Our conclusion was that Miuccia Prada showed a lack of imagination by choosing to cast only extremely thin models. Have you thought about addressing the show? I ask just because it’s looking like it will be very trendsetting.
Taylor Ramsie: “I am absolutely going to be illustrating some looks from those shows. Absolutely, because this Miu Miu mini skirt is definitely, with no offense to the models, an adolescent slim torso moment. If you look at the runway presentation of the collections, it’s just hip bones, a very low rise, early-2000s-meets-private-schoolgirl-uniform-violation moment. It feels like a part of the design is actually the slim torso, which while interesting, isn’t imaginative at all.
“In addition, the only larger body that I’ve seen don the double-super-cropped set is Paloma Elsesser for i-D’s “Out of Body” Issue. This is also expected because curvy runway and editorial fave Paloma Elesser (along with Precious Lee and Alva Claire) have been carrying the curvy/plus size runway and editorial presence on their backs. So yes, I have to illustrate the Miu Miu minis on a big body because, what I’m being told by the brand and how it’s been presented is that it wasn’t intended to be seen or imagined that way.”