You might imagine that most 13-year-old girls spend their days texting their friends, working on school projects and eagerly anticipating their ascent into the complex, and often cutthroat, social dynamics of high school and all of its pep rally, homecoming, and prom night glory. Isabella Rose Taylor, however, isn’t your typical 13-year-old girl.
Aside from being in her second year of college (she graduated high school when she was 11), the Austin, Texas native is far ahead of her peers. She’s an established fine artist with gallery representation, was just credited as the youngest fashion designer to be sold at Nordstrom, spoke at TEDx Hollywood earlier this year, and is gearing up to show her spring juniors collection during New York Fashion Week. She’s even garnered the attention of Dell, whose Women’s Entrepreneurial Network is backing her pursuits and providing technology and investor connections to expand her business.
“There is school and schoolwork and the things you do after school like extra curricular activities and a social life, family, all that stuff,” Taylor told The Daily Beast. “It just so happens that school for me means community college and extracurricular activities are painting and designing and learning as much as I can about running and growing a business.”
At the age of three Taylor picked up an interest in the arts, which evolved into a passion for painting with mixed media. “I was really interested in adding fabrics onto my canvas,” she said, which inspired her to attend sewing camp. “I just fell in love with fashion design. I liked the idea of the bringing my 2D art into a 3D perspective and [ended up] sewing my first collection,” which she sold from her website before expanding to local boutique stores.
Soon after, she had the opportunity to show her second collection alongside her artworks at the Christy Stubs Gallery in Dallas, Texas, who represents the artist, during Fashion’s Night Out. “My art and fashion are really tied together like when I use a painting as a textile, or a graphic. Sometimes its more subconscious and they just kind of merge into each other.”
Such was the case with her fall 2014 collection, which recently appeared at Nordstrom. The “urban camper” aesthetic which is “cozy and cool,” as Taylor described, stemmed from her mix media paintings. The artworks were translated into a textile, which the designer used as a jump off point to tell the entire collection’s story.
Combining a little street grunge with hippie elements and Americana symbols, Taylor’s collection embodies her own eclectic style. “I always think you should never just wear one style … and I love personal touches,” she said. “I have a [flannel] jacket that has frayed arm patches and a tiny American flag. It has a more girly silhouette to it [and] bigger buttons,” to make it feminine.
Things like this are what helped her land a spot among established and emerging designers at Austin Fashion Week in Texas last year. The committee awarded her the coveted “Rising Star Award” for both her exposure and excellence at such a young age. She returned this year, headlined the festivities, before heading to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Oklahoma City.
But, New York Fashion Week is the crème de la crème of showcases for America’s elite designers, which can be a intimidating, especially when the designers Taylor idolizes—Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang, and Marc Jacobs—will be showing their respective collections the same week.
Luckily, the budding designer has had plenty of guidance by well-established figures such as Charlotte Ronson, who invited Taylor to visit her studio after the two met during an appearance on Katie Couric daytime’s chat show.
“She was really nice and I’ve been really lucky to meet so many wonderful people who have believed in me throughout the years,” Taylor said. “I’ve met so many amazing designers … and they have been so generous with their time and advice.”
And it seems to be paying off.
Tuesday’s showing of her spring collection will showcase a new set of looks that portray a “story of spring with rainy days and colorful beginnings” while staying true to the “Isabella Rose Taylor” girl—young tweens “caught between the women’s and girls’ sections in terms of … styles [and] sizing,” as she told WWD. “Clothes were either too mature or too young for me [and] many girls my age face this same problem.”
With the connections she’s making and the milestones she has reached (at age 13!) you can bet to see big things from Isabella Rose Taylor in the near future. An international brand is in her five-year plan, and most things this young designer sets her sights on tend to come true.