Letesha Renee, is the remarkable creative director and designer behind the unisex luxury clothing brand; Eugene Taylor. [@_EUGENETAYLOR]

Letesha Renee’s Eugene Taylor has taken the fashion world by storm, and she is the designer to watch as she makes space for herself on the New York stage.

Letesha Renee, is the remarkable creative director and designer behind the unisex luxury clothing brand; Eugene Taylor. Eugene Taylor has taken the fashion world by storm, and she is the designer to watch as she makes space for herself on the New York stage. This NYFW22, she debuted her annual collection that is based on the legendary superstar; Diana Ross.

According to the designer, this capsule collection is a tribute to the living legend and her late Grandmother that aims to celebrate the “women artists, creators and thinkers, giving little Black girls hope to dream big.” Renee is not only a big dreamer but is willing to bet on herself, even at times of uncertainty. I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about the very early beginnings of her love of fashion and the source of all that passion and creativity.  

Where did you grow up? 

I’m from Chicago, but when I was seventeen, I decided to move out and have been on my own ever since. I gravitated towards the Logan Square and Humboldt Park area. It’s always been one of my favourite parts of the city and has lived there for most of my adult life. 

What was your first introduction to fashion? 

My Grandma taught me how to sew at a young age; I was interested in the technical side of making clothes and the creative side of it – getting dressed up and looking good. My Dad also inspired me; he reminded me of those 90s movies. He wore fedora hats, long wool coats and silk shirts. In the household, some of my chores growing up, were to iron his clothing, so I started to look into how the clothing was made and how it was all pieced together to become one garment. 

Did you study fashion for Higher Education? 

I did end up going to school because when you’re coming out of high school, you often feel like you have to. But after one semester, I ended up dropping out and didn’t tell my family. However, after this, my Grandmother ended up passing away, and I decided to return to honour her memory since she was a person who believed in me and what I wanted to do. 

Photography by Ryan Barhaug

In what way did you push yourself during this time? 

Well, I’m Jamaican. So in true Jamaican form, I was balancing several jobs and school at some point. Honestly, I just wanted to get my feet wet. So I did a bit of styling; started to work with some up and coming artists in Chicago. After I built up some confidence, I landed jobs with companies like Topshop and Doc Martens, so in that time, I managed to build some savings and decided to cash everything out and bet on myself and start my brand. 

How old were you when you decided to bet yourself in that way?

I was only 27 when I decided to bet on myself completely and make fashion my full-time career. And it’s been the best decision I have ever made because I wake up every day doing what I love to do. I can’t fully explain it, but it’s a beautiful feeling. 

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Who is your fashion inspiration? 

Diana Ross inspires me. Every February for Black History Month, I do a tribute every year to Diana Ross. Diana Ross is one of my favourite people ever, and I think she is such a staple for black women, especially being a woman who is seen as being so graceful and glamorous. 

What is the importance of having a unisex brand? 

My brand is a unisex brand, and I want people to feel that when they see my stuff. It is all genderless, and I don’t want gender to be a factor when looking at my pieces. Because what I make is intricately created to be thought of in that way. I don’t do things predominantly for men or women, and I think people should be able to wear whatever they want. I love to play with femininity, but I enjoy leaning into masculinity and meshing them together.

Check out the GUAP Arts & Culture section, to discover new art, film, and creative individuals. 

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