Q&A: LaQuan Smith on Building a Brand, Dressing the Stars and Watching Boomerang

Smith, just 24, is already at the top of his game -- and still rising

laquan smith smiling

LaQuan Smith is about to blow up. We caught up with the fashion designer at the showcase of his critically-acclaimed Fall 2013 fashion line at the Hudson Hotel Penthouse suite in Manhattan. A DJ was playing 90′s and 2000′s hip hop and Smith, wearing a black muscle T with black pants, was in a much better mood than his dark outfit suggested.

BlackEnterprise.com: So first tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the collection.

LaQuan Smith: The inspiration drew from a lot of places. There’s a hard hip hop sensibility to this collection, a little urban flair cat suits. I watched Boomerang.

Amazing! Very strangé.

Exactly you get it! Strangé gives you nothing but sex. I love that idea. The fact that these clothes are very sexy, but not trashy, and I wanted to do something that resembled old school New York. The reason we did it in a penthouse and then there was also the inspiration behind like James Bond, the cool elements of the Bond girls, the fact that you like the golden eye girl and then you know. All of these different women that played these bond girls which were either love interests of James Bond or enemies. And you know, all of these girls resemble a clean palette of softness and hardness.

We love it.

The materials consist of a vinyl wool, a scuba with patent stars reversed, an entire PVC (polyvinyl chloride) look you know, keeping it slinky with the crop top, you see the lace detail with the Mongolian lamb, the PVC zipper in the middle, that sport sleek raw-edge zipper to keep that edge.

We learned that you are in six stores now. Tell us about that first moment when you found out you were going to be picked up by these stores. What was that like for you?

It was the most liberating feeling. Because I was, like, Oh my God, finally. You know, being a young designer, a new designer on the scene trying to be taken seriously, I aspire to be in stores such as Barney’s and Bergdorf and to really understand the retail market and what this fashion market is really about. It was like a dream come true. No, at the moment it wasn’t Barney’s but the fact that a retailer can say, You know what, this is my client and I can sell this to a woman that lives a regular lifestyle. That meant a lot to me.

And just building those relationships helped me cultivate what the LaQuan Smith woman is. Because I’ve been dressing the celebrities for the last few seasons and it’s like great, but these are not realistic ideas — ‘Let me go buy this catsuit that Rihanna is wearing.’ You know, if her body is not snatched enough to wear the catsuit she can wear the dress.

Exactly.

Just giving you those options. Perhaps there’s an elder woman that loves the flair of the skirt but may not rock the crop top. So there’s like that balance of having a piece of every woman in every look.

In terms of branding, what has dressing the celebrities done for you?

I mean its wonderful, I love the celebrities I dress. They embody of certain sophistication a certain uh, ya know, something, that LaQuan Smith is. LaQuan Smith is all about luxury quality and sensuality. And so the girls that wear the clothes like Rihanna and Gaga and Raven-Symoné. She’s so sophisticated. Serena Williams — they give me what I’m already creating so it only makes sense that they wear the clothes. It syncs naturally.

You’ve done this collection, where do you see LaQuan Smith going? Where do you see it developing?

This shit is booming! It’s really going far. I envision LaQuan Smith as a household name. These pieces you will be able to wear 5, 10, 15 years from now, I think so. Honey, I’m gonna give these pieces to my daughter, she’s going to give them to her daughter, that’s what it’s about. It’s about creating novelty pieces that will last you a lifetime. And perhaps there maybe the trendiness of the stars, but what’s a collection, what’s a piece with no experience to it? There’s no fun in that. If we wanted that we could just all go to H&M and live our best lives. But instead I’m here giving you something new, giving you something fresh.

Do you think you’ll branch into, like, shoes and handbags, ever?

All the way. I wanna do handbags, I wanna do shoes — I wanna do it all.  That’s really where I’m trying to go. To really have someone understand where I’m trying to go in terms of the luxury and in terms of the quality, I think once they grasp that concept then I’ll be able to even give you a little iPhone case, ya know what i’m saying? The idea is basically taking a piece of me and including it into their daily life. Whether it’s a clutch, a little key chain, because if they can’t afford the $1,000 dress, they can get the $50 scarf, or the head piece. So it’s really about breaking all these pieces down into accessories which is the number one booming thing in the market. But I think it starts as an experience with the clothes.

And so if you had to put your piece on another celebrity who you haven’t dressed before, who would you choose?

Gwyneth Paltrow. I love her.

She could wear one of those crop tops so easily.

Any day, in any of these clothes. I love the idea of the LaQuan Smith skirt. The graphic one is so like an Azealia Banks. It’s so Rihanna. This gunmetal dress is a vinyl wool. It’s simple and it’s easy, anyone could wear it.

Thank you so much. It was great meeting you.

Thank you.

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