TLDR: Tara Babylon is a British-Iraqi sustainable fashion designer & performance artist based in New York. She is an alumni of CSM, Parsons MFA and holds scholarships and prestigious awards to her name. The ethos of the label is a RTW gender-fluid brand with a large emphasis on color, craft, textiles and performance art. The craftsmanship within this brand focuses heavily on hand-made techniques in order to keep the artisanal element alive. Weave, print, tufting and crochet are common techniques used within the label. The brand is energetic and fun with sophisticated silhouettes. Tara Babylon celebrates key showpieces amongst moderating eco conscious stylized RTW and accessories.
A common stereotype about “sustainable fashion” is that it’s boring. It’s all beige and green and filled with shapeless garments that can be worn multiple ways because it’s practical. (Or because the “designer” just made a massive t-shirt which they’re convincing you is also a dress and a poncho…when it’s really not.) And actually, sadly…there are far too many of those shapeless sacks in the universe posing as “fashion”.
But we at No Kill know there is no reason clothes can’t be sustainable and sexy. Ethical and adventurous. And Tara Babylon’s collection proves this.
A former club dancer turned fashion designer Tara’s work is still imbued with the energy and aesthetic of an amazing night out – but elevated through her design.
How she got her start
It was in the clubs where she learned to sew and make patterns but when she realized fashion was what she wanted to do she couldn’t get a job beyond pattern maker so she decided to start all over and go to Central Saint Martins.
“I was a pop performer for so long and I learned to make clothing in Manchester so I had pattern making skills and I’m working in clubs and then as the years go by I start interning and I’m touring with the gogo and then I get to my mid 20s and I was like I don’t wanna be a gogo dancer when I hit 30!. I knew I wanted to do design and design jobs aren’t employing me because I’m a pattern maker and that’s when I decided to start all over again.” At CSM Tara was encouraged to find her own design process because as she confessed “I can’t sketch!”
As she explains her process: I start gathering my research and I’ll start making prints and textiles and then I start collaging on my body with tissue and this is essentially how I sketch my design and my lineup and that’s how my collection and my work manifests and develops and evolved.
After CSM Tara went on to get an MFA from Parsons – a program that really encouraged textile exploration.
“The textile element for me is just so important. I’m obsessed with color and print and I gravitate towards weaving and crochet and put my own spin on it. How can I crochet and make it Tara? Because normal crochet is not me. I’m a bit more…heavy handed, a bit more aggressive and I started to crocheting through metal and then transitioned to safety pins so that’s where my whole crochet safety pin world happened. I love finding my language within that and color and different texture and medium…”
The Ball gown
This was my ball gown piece. I wanted it to feel really romantic, soft and flowy…the color palette is very much pinks and reds and I took photos and made a digital print on tulle and silk. And this is fashioned from safety pins I crochet and make a bustier top with eco PU.
Where did the name Tara Babylon come from?
I was born in Iraq so I’m Arabic originally, British immigrant grew up in the UK but I speak fluent Arabic and at Parsons they really encouraged you to look at yourself and your family and where you come from and I had never done that. I had literally looked at external sources. It was challenging for me to look inwards and at my family.
And I came to the concept of Babylon. It’s real it existed. It doesn’t exist anymore but I’m gonna make it exist and create this fantasyland and that’s essentially what Tara Babylon is about. It’s creating my fantasy of what Babylon is and what it should be. Because there was no religion in Babylon and for me it’s this free utopian land.
What’s an ideal day for you? Sunday! Because it’s chill & guilt free!
What is the most rewarding thing about being a fashion designer? Sharing your work with the world!
What is the most challenging? The emotional aspect: how lonely it can feel, the long hours, financially unpredictability.
If I wasn’t a fashion designer, I would be a… Dancer.
And a few of your Favorite Things: My dog Simba / Afternoon Tea / Freshly washed bedsheets / Empty museums / Waterfalls.
Book: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
Movie/Series: Aladdin / Edward Scissorhands / Mrs. Doubtfire / Mary Poppins / Batman Returns
Creative Inspiration: Performance/Dance/Textures/Prints/Subcultures/Uniforms.
Food: Middleeastern & ItalianTrend that you like: I don’t follow trends!
Trend that you hate: Crocs!
Quality in a human being: Honesty, Authenticity, Sense of Humor!
Person you admire (and why): My Dads kindness! John Galliano’s creative genius! Lady Gaga’s attitude! Michael Jacksons music!
Quote to live by: “If you’re going through hell, keep going! “