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Steven Tai Plays for Keeps


Steven Tai

Karolina Kurkova was recently snapped in London sporting a white Steven Tai dress with navy floral appliqués—a pick that definitely helped edge him further onto the global fashion radar.

Tai, 29, who was born in Macao and mostly raised in Canada, belongs to a brand-new generation of designers who found their passion thanks to “I remember being a geek in high school, becoming interested in how dress indicated belonging and how to look the part,” he recalled. Around his senior year, someone introduced him to “It opened up a whole new world for me,” he said in his Paris showroom the other day. “It really turned me into a fashion person.”

For Fall-Winter, Tai’s story revolves around “a girl who broke up with her boyfriend but kept all his clothes”—which means tailored coats with a masculine vibe and slightly bigger, tomboyish silhouettes. Texture is a big focus for Tai, so he’s been developing techniques using laser-cut nylon, a raincoat material he works into flowers or uses as fringe, and sparkling tweed stitched in layers on jackets and coats. “We measure by the number of movies we watched while we are sewing,” he said, indicating one fringed trench. “This one is eight movies for four people.” He’s also been developing jacquards, which he uses in columns and cuts into fringe. “Jacquard is such a traditional fabric, it’s fun to be unsentimental about it,” he joked. Those flowers on Kurkova’s dress are another invention: They may look and feel like velvet, but in fact they are made of finely detailed, sliced embroidery.

Photo: Courtesy of Steven Tai

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