He’s a New Yorker, he’s from Queens, and he’s American fashion designer LaQuan Smith. His creations are specific for a certain type of woman. Women from Jennifer Lopez, to Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna are known to drink from his aesthetic design fountain. Smith gives inauguration credit into fashion to his grandmother, who taught him the intricacies of sewing and pattern making. And today, his design style as unapologetic, glamorous, sexy, classy and luxurious.
In a chat with Smith, he opens up about design school, his ah-ha moment when he knew he wanted to be a designer, what his process is like in creating new collections, and what the world can expect to see from him in 2021. Photographed by New York City fashion and beauty photographer Andrew Day, who has worked with some of the industry’s most leading fashion talent.
It was the women in his family that propelled the thirty-two-year-old to become a designer. “After seeing the beautiful women in my family dress up for occasions, it lit the spark in me to want to create beautiful clothes,” he notes. Smith is not fashion school educated but rather self-taught, filled with passion for his craft, and has a ruthless eye for what his clientele wants to wear. “I used to think that going to design school would have elevated my craft, but now I don’t think it’s necessary for me to go to fashion design school. Learning on my own and carving my own path forced me to execute on my own and figure it out myself,” says Smith.
What’s unique about Smith’s journey is that by the age of twenty-one, he premiered at New York Fashion Week when most design students of his same ilk and age are still in school. “I was so fortunate to have my first debut fashion show during NYFW in 2010, with the help of my mentor at the time Andre Leon Talley. I actually held my runway show at the Peninsula and Serena Williams closed the show in 2012. With help from my network I was able to showcase strong for my first outings.”
His creative process timeline is average for most design houses. “It takes me a full 6 months to create a collection- starts with my inspiration process, goes to my draping, prototyping and sample making, down to fitting and casting, and finally our runway shows or a lookbook.” And, Smith chooses to have his offices in Queens as opposed to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. “Long Island City, Queens is important for me to be in as its close to my birth spot in Queens but it’s a haven opposed to the bustling nature of Manhattan. During fashion week I’m able to walk out the office in complete isolation sometimes.”
What makes Smith’s style specific is