LaQuan Smith isn’t designing apparel for a singular consumer.
“The LaQuan Smith woman isn’t a specific age, weight, or even social class,” the 33-year-old designer tells Bustle. “The overarching connection is the yearning to feel desired, and I’m able to offer exactly that to my customers.”
Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid, Beyoncé, and Rihanna are among the countless celebs who wear his unapologetically bold and feminine designs. His work landed him a coveted spot on this year’s roster of CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winners, which recognizes emerging design talent and helps them find continued success in the business of fashion, in America and beyond.
Born in Queens, New York, Smith cites his hometown as a key influence for his Spring 2022 collection, which he debuted atop the Empire State Building at New York Fashion Week in September.
“From its nightlife and glamour, New York City’s energy was a huge part of my inspiration for the collection,” he says. “It truly became a full-circle moment when we decided to show my Spring 2022 collection at the Empire State Building this season because this city holds a special place in my heart and the brand’s. I wanted to reinforce this strong understanding that glamour and sex are back.”
The collection boasted a wide array of going-out ensembles, from shimmery gowns with sleek cut-outs to micro minidresses and bodysuits with plunging V necklines.
“No matter age or shape, women want to feel attractive and sexy,” Smith says. “They want to be desired. When I’m designing my collections, I tap into that feeling and want to give the LaQuan Smith woman that experience. Sexy is extremely powerful and should be celebrated.”
His NYFW show also marked his first “see now, buy now” show in partnership with Afterpay, which enables shoppers to order items immediately and pay for them over time through installments without added interest.
“Their mission to unlock access to NYFW for consumers was something that resonated strongly with me,” Smith says. “I [wanted to give] shoppers across the U.S. the ability to shop my collection directly.”
With the way the industry has been turned upside down lately, when Smith reflects on the future of fashion overall, it’s the next generation that he remains most focused on.
“I want to see young designers stay true to who they are and what they believe in, and to continue to break barriers and dismantle rigid conventions,” he says. “I want to see fashion evolve in favor of a future in which everyone can be whoever they want to be and embrace their inner power for change.”