What makes a fashion house a home? Creative directors come and go, and businesses reimagine themselves. The factor that separates an enduring luxury entity from a blip on the scene is the establishment of house codes. Brands that recognize this create a visual language that transcends seasons and worms its way into consumers’ minds. With a memorable archive and enough carefully curated history, you don’t have to see their latest runway show to know the perspective that informs it or which consistently updated items will receive their season refresh.
Familiarity on that level doesn’t happen overnight; the houses that benefit from this are considered heritage brands for a reason. Still, when he began thinking about his fall collection, LaQuan Smith wanted to take the long view. Instead of reinventing the wheel, Smith sought to hone in on the pieces that best represent his point of view. “I wanted to design a collection that was embracing what I do and who I am,” shared Smith over Zoom. “It’s a looking-good, feeling-good collection with the understanding and the ownership of the fact that we are a Black-owned luxury brand. So I wanted things to be as unapologetic and unique as possible, diving deeper into my truth as a designer.”
Smith’s truth is one of audacious sensuality and assertive female power. The woman he designs for is comfortable in her own skin, even when she’s wearing little else. Overt sexiness might be at odds with the Zoom-age’s cozy and covered-up vibe, but Smith is unfazed. His transparent catsuit—a favorite of Jennifer Lopez—saw an uptick in sales during quarantine, so clearly the need for outré looks remains strong. The piece received an update that put even more skin on display with mesh and swirls of crushed velvet running from head to toe. PVC pants that have been spotted on Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner were overhauled too, their skin tight silhouette accentuated by keyholes that revealed a flash of posterior.
It wasn’t all celebrity-approved remixes. As he elevated his standards, Smith experimented with new textiles and silhouettes. Autumnal separates were done in boiled wool, while hand-beading mimicked the look of glass shards on pencil skirts and bodysuits with built-in bustiers. Furs detailed with embroidery upped the luxury factor, especially when used for plush crop-tops and other unexpected pieces. Even conservative beige wool was given sex appeal via cutouts and crisscrossing halter tops. Independent designers aren’t always afforded the time necessary to develop their brand’s identity—the industry is always on the lookout for the next next big thing—but Smith has asserted his effectively and with flair. So next time you scroll through your Instagram feed and see your most extroverted friend wearing a mesh catsuit beneath a chubby chinchilla, know that Smith had something to do with it.