The Rise of Fashion Designer LaQuan Smith
Whether it’s reinvented tweed prints and patterns or slinky bodysuits, if you see it on any of today’s big celebrities or social media influencers, chances are they are from designer LaQuan Smith. Whether you know it or not, some of the hottest designs of years past have come from the New York designer. While it may seem like his meteoric rise to fame and stardom in the fashion world had been a quick one, it, in fact, had been one many years in the making.
Smith was born in Queens, New York, on August 30, 1988, and had an affinity for apparel and fashion at a young age. At age 13, while most boys were receiving Playstations for Christmas, he inherited his grandmother’s Singer sewing machine.
In 2007, Smith graduated from the High School of Art and Design but failed to get accepted at the Fashion Institute of Technology as well as Parsons School of Design (being rejected from Fashion Institute twice.) That didn’t deter him one bit, as he was hired as an intern for New York magazine, BlackBook, that same year. It was there where he was able to break out and show his talents.
While interning for celebrity fashion stylist, Elizabeth Sulcer, Smith would check her mail to keep up on the latest fashion events happening around town. He would go, pretending to be a BlackBook editor; decked out in his own designs. It was at one of these events where he met celebrity publicist Kelly Mills, who took an interest in him.
In 2008, Smith started his self-titled brand, LaQuan Smith, LLC. Working out of his bedroom (which doubled as his studio), he grinded and worked tirelessly on his first collection; sometimes up to 19 hours a day. It all paid off when he presented his first collection (produced by Kelly Mills PR Agency, as well as the Fashion Art Gallery) in February 2010, at New York Fashion Week, held at the Society of Illustrators headquarters. The Vogue Magazine editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley, stylist Misa Hylton, and Vogue style director Alexandra Kotur were among the fashion and industry heads and celebrities in attendance.
While Smith’s star was on the rise, what shot it straight up was Instagram and Kardashian family. For Kylie Jenner’s 18th birthday party, both Kendell Jenner and Kourtney Kardashian Instagrammed photos of themselves in LaQuan Smith outfits, and the rest is history.
Smith has since dressed the who’s who of celebrities; everyone from Rihanna (for her “Rude Boy” music video) to Lady Gaga and even the Queen herself, Mrs. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter for her ‘On the Run II’ tour. Smith also continues to put out his collections and shows at New York Fashion Week, with his designs and shows redefining and setting trends.
With all of his past and current success (including his newly launched collaborative line with ASOS and being asked to speak at both the Fashion Institute and Parsons where he was rejected), Smith remains humble and low-key. He continues to work hard; building himself and his brand up. When asked about what his breakthrough was, he answered: “I’m still waiting on it.”
In my opinion, he has definitely broken through many times over.