Colorant’s Sonia Tay Gets Natural Dye Inspiration in Marrakesh

Sonia Tay, the designer behind Colorant traveled to Morocco last April which inspired her current collection dyed with natural dyes that Botanical Colors was proud to be part of. Each of her collections is manufactured and dyed here in the U.S.

Tay is an American fashion designer, a native New Yorker who graduated from Parsons School of Design and studied at Parsons Paris in the interim where she furthered her studies of Art History and Costume Design. It was here she was able to focus on her love of fabrics and color history, traveling through Europe, stopping in fashion capitals like London and Milan, and touring each city’s extensive textile libraries and museums for inspiration.

Born from a lineage of farmers, Tay’s interest in natural colors was sparked when a childhood art teacher shared a personal binder full of yarn-dye experiments using a variety of plants, mushrooms and barks from the 70’s. The experience stayed with her and in 2012, she began to explore the use of natural colors in the U.S. as well as original dye plants that exist today that could be harnessed for manufacturing.

“A goal of Colorant is to educate the modern customer about color history and to perhaps stir an interest in where they come from and how they originated. Every color has a story to tell and what better way to tell that story by wearing it? The Colorant woman is tactile and a loves the feel of a luxury fabrication. She encourages all that makes life colorful: spontaneity, unpredictability and a primal gravitation to the natural world,” says Tay.

The collection is currently being shipped out now for spring and summer orders in boutiques all over. To peruse her site and find places near you to shop, go here.

Read about the inspiration for some of her SS17 pieces below!

Beautiful, Bustling Marrakesh. We spent hours getting lost in the maze-like souks where there are designated areas for leather, textiles, ceramics, metals, spices and “Souk de Teintures” (Dyer’s Bizarre). You can purchase pure indigo by the pound along with your rose tea and dried fruit. All the necessities…

Aït Benhaddou. Rose for SS17 was inspired by the clay architecture of this ancient city at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. The season prior we created a blush color that was more beige derived from Lac resin. I wanted to bring back a pink hue, but this time one that paid tribute to these pink sands which we were able to achieve by using Madder Root.

The Sahara Dunes. During the day the sun engulfs the sand which inspired our Gold for SS17. Mesmerized by mounds of this vivid earthy yellow, we camel trekked to a Berber camp where the night was spent sipping mint tea under the desert night sky. I wanted to recreate this gold if only to remember what an incredible journey that was.

Rich History. It’s hard to believe the Sahara was once an ocean, housing thousands of aquatic species that existed millions of years ago. The area is so rich with fossils, we stopped at a museum where artisans preserve and polish sheets of rocked embedded with prehistoric sea creatures and this limestone (pictured) with fossilized plants We couldn’t really take this guy home with us on the plane, but our terracotta hue was inspired by these slabs, each telling a different story, just like the Colorant natural dye palette!

Essaouira. A beloved seaside town that once housed a Tyrian purple factory due to it’s high population of Murex snails used to extract “royal purple.” The city is a beautiful marriage of high walls and large metal doors designed to protect inhabitants. This door in particular with it’s verdigris color inspired Vetiver, our new green derived from pomegranate skin and is slightly blue in tone while staying neutral.

Ruins at the beach of Essaouira. The Brandon Jumpsuit (pictured here in hand-dyed indigo) is designed to be worn as a second skin, but with a thickness made from organic hemp cotton so it can be worn alone, throw a button-down over it and you are fully dressed without a fuss. Colorant fitted caps comes in every natural color and is perfect to shield your face from the sun, both items are crushable and can be stuffed in your bag without wrinkling. Not only is it important for our colors to be wearable, but our silhouettes to be functional.

Learn more about Colorant here.