Growing up under the microscope of celebrity, where every misstep is magnified for all to see, is no easy task. All young people falter and flourish, but having famous parents, developing one’s own identity as a public figure and trying to keep up with life in a culture that amplifies everything on social media is challenging, to say the least.
Those who know of Atlanta de Cadenet Taylor — either as a model, DJ, fashionable girl about town, or daughter of photographer and Girlgaze founder Amanda de Cadenet and Duran Duran bassist John Taylor — could imagine she’s dealt with her share of issues, too.
Now the 26-year-old Los Angeles resident is finding her footing as an advocate for young women – particularly those who’ve experienced body-image issues, mental health or substance abuse struggles and sexual assault. All are things she’s dealt with first-hand, and through her ever-evolving platform — which includes a swimwear collaboration with Revolve-backed contemporary brand LPA and her podcast “I’m Over It” — de Cadenet Taylor is embracing the highs and lows that have brought her this far. She rejects the notion that she has to be defined by a single label.
“Everything I’ve done, from being a kid growing up around creative people to my mom, watching how she went through the world, led me to this point. All the modeling and traveling and DJ-ing and getting to work with all these incredible people allowed me to have the platform that I have today, so the reason I talk about things that are important to me, like mental health and sexual assault, is because so many people don’t have that. I want to use my numbers to not just sell a skirt,” she said.
It’s why she decided to take on the notoriously hard-to-fit (for those who aren’t Victoria’s Secret models) swimwear category with her good friend Pia Arrobio, founder of LPA.
“We’d been talking about doing something for a couple of years, and I was like, ‘I don’t give a s–t about another dress collaboration.’ I told Atlanta, ‘You could do something a lot cooler,’” said Arrobio, who noted that when she launches new categories in LPA, she likes to do it with interesting capsule collaborations. “We thought, let’s do swim. It’s more controversial, more interesting and has the power to show what Atlanta is growing into as an extension of her mother.”
The two women are of the same mind, and similar body types. “We have real bodies, boobs and bums,” said de Cadenet Taylor. “I still want to look sexy and cute, but I’m not comfortable wearing a thong. At this point in my life, I love my ass dimples. But there was a period of time when I didn’t want that out. I need that extra six inches of fabric on my bottom.”
As for the tops, “I’ve struggled my whole life to find a bathing suit that fits me that doesn’t look like a maternity bra. I’m proud of the line because it’s an accurate representation of me rather than me putting on someone else’s clothes.”
De Cadenet Taylor was given full creative license, so the line reflects her love of vintage clothes with nods to Raquel Welch, Brigitte Bardot, Christie Brinkley and Bettie Page that look contemporary, not costume-y. The 15-piece collection, which includes five one-piece suits and five bikinis, retails between $58 and $178 and goes live today on lpathelabel.com and Revolve.com.
Arrobio noted that they increased the industry standard size for the swimsuits, fitting them on de Cadenet Taylor, and that she plans to continue offering LPA swim after the introduction of LPA x ATL. “We did the best we could within the contemporary sizing range, and the pieces all have elements of support and adjustability,” she said.
LPA x ATL Swim definitely whet de Cadenet Taylor’s appetite for inclusive design. “I wish I could design underwear and lingerie. There’s always been a huge plus-size market and for the super thin girls, but the in-betweens who are a size six but with massive boobs or something, it’s kind of hard,” she said.
So, too, was starting in the modeling industry at age 15. “I struggled with that a lot because I was embraced by the fashion community for my cool style, then you have to wear other people’s clothes and be a certain size to get into the clothes, and you’re 18 and all of a sudden you’re being told by your agency you’re too fat to go to a Chanel show when they’ve invited you and dressed you. It takes its toll. I didn’t know who I was for a minute because I’d been taking on so many other identities.”
Of fashion, she says, “Everything in that world looks so glamorous and a lot of it is. I’m superlucky I got flown around the world first-class and dressed in incredible clothes that people would dream of wearing but it also has a down side. You know what’s crazy? When I look back, I was very small.”
Now she’s embracing her curves. “For the first time in my life I’m healthy and I like how I look and I feel good. Which I know is all on the inside because when I was superthin I was miserable. This swim campaign was the first time I was confident enough to pose for a picture in a long time. I had gained 40 pounds because I was depressed and I worked really hard to lose 30. When I posted that photo, I got all these DMs from girls saying, ‘Please post your workout.’ So I did. I want to keep letting girls know it’s OK to go through struggles and you’re not alone.”
Her social media engagement continues to be a powerful platform to share those struggles.
“I had a huge shift about a year and a half ago. I was sexually assaulted and that changed everything for me. It made me think about what was really important in life. Family and friends and your health, everything can be taken away from you just like that. I would post quotes about sexual assault, never saying I was raped but implying it. Every time I’ve posted about it, someone has said, ‘That happened to me, too, but I haven’t been able to say it, so you saying it makes me feel OK to say it,’ or ‘Thank you for speaking about this. I’ve always looked up to you as being the pretty fashion girl who gets to travel around the world and wear Chanel and this and that and to hear that…’” she trails off.
She has a love-hate relationship with Instagram. On the one hand, it’s enabled her to share personal struggles and help other women, but she can’t help but be bothered by the altered reality aspect.
“That’s the thing with Instagram, it’s like the highlights. And the girls that people are looking up to, they all have plastic surgery, which is fine, but the idea of beauty now is so skewed. My little sister is 11 and for these girls, their idea of beauty is a bunch of filters and someone’s private plane. Those are the people that are the most followed. As someone who was lucky enough to live a certain life, I don’t like showing that kind of s–t, you know?”
She acknowledges, “I wasn’t always as conscious as I am now. At least there’s an awakening where people are starting to think about it and talk about it. I’ve had people go, ‘This is trending right now, why don’t you come out and talk about it?’ but I wasn’t wanting to put stuff out into the world just for the sake of doing it. But now because it feels like a genuine thing, I’m more willing.”
De Cadenet Taylor said she’s also passionate about mental health awareness, stemming from her own bipolar diagnosis a year and a half ago. In February, she launched her podcast, “I’m Over It,” to discuss her struggles with others.
“My boyfriend heard me talking to some girls and he said, ‘You are so good at speaking to people, you should start a podcast.’ I went and bought the mics and did it at home. We’ve gotten over 3,000 downloads in a week.” She has recorded 10 episodes so far, and going forward, will produce them biweekly at the Girlgaze house.
“They’re going to help me find guests. I didn’t want celebrities because I didn’t want the p.r.-approved versions. It’s lighthearted, real talk, which I think is helpful in discussing heavy topics. So many people have depression that we don’t need to talk about it like we can’t talk about it. What have you done that’s helped you? It’s so important to talk about solutions,” she said.
As Arrobio noted, she is beginning to harness the Girlgaze network her mother created.
“It’s been incredible to be around a lot of like-minded girls that I can speak with truly openly. And it’s incredible to watch my mom run the company. I keep joking with her that I want to learn the ways so that I can take over someday,” de Cadenet Taylor said.
She calls the Instagram culture, the metric of followers, and its importance when it comes to booking projects “so intense. You’re constantly comparing yourself to others. I know it’s not the most important thing, so it’s OK. But when I was ‘in fashion’ I had so many opportunities to pimp my Instagram out and I wouldn’t do it because that’s not who I am. So my Instagram is genuinely me but the numbers aren’t huge. I’d love to go to a brand and go, ‘Hey hire me,’ but they go, ‘We’re already working with this girl’ and it’s like, what about quality over quantity?
“Do you know the amount of job offers I turn down where I’m like, ‘I’m sorry, I think they are full of s–t?’ My bank account is very low but I have my dignity, and that costs a lot. But I’m very lucky and the only reason I have the 3,000 listeners or the ability to talk about the things I find important is because of everything I did.”