Africa Fashion Week 2010: LaQuan Smith

Ok, so admittedly when finding out that a New York based designer who I had heard buzz around prior to moving to South Africa, was going to be on the roster for fashion week here, I have to say that I was, well…excited! LaQuan Smith has become a bit of the ‘it’ celebrity darling, and the press seems to love the “rags to riches” story of him designing out of his tiny studio apartment and wearing crazy outfits while crashing fashion parties in NYC, the 21-year-old has caught the attention of clients Lady Gaga and Rihanna. I must say that I did question his relevance (as a black American) in a fashion week that aspires to expose the future fashion stars of Africa, but I understand the gesture. He is African-American, and would not otherwise be allowed the outlet to show in New York (at the tents at least).

In anticipation of the buzz, I arrived to his 4pm show to find that the audience was far from packed. Perhaps it was the lack of confidence in the punctuality of AFI (after an over 4 hour delay on day 1), or maybe it was a testament to how many AFW goers are actually not in fashion, and find it unneccessary to skip out on work early on a Thursday to see a newcomer. Whatever the case may be, I regretfully have to say that I felt a bit embarrassed for the rookie runway act.

The show started with a bang in a fresh palette of bright turquoise and hot pink neoprene mini’s and peek-a-boo nipped metallic gold  leggings and bodysuits, but shortly after, the basic mini dress silhouettes started to repeat themselves along with the three or four specialty fabrics.

Then came the saddest part – super mini neoprene skirts that were so structured (as neoprene naturally is), that they were raised up to expose the buttocks of the models. I looked across the aisle to watch Sonia Boothe’s and Fern Mallis’ faces trying to stay maintained as they were flashed. I wouldn’t call it the end of LaQuan’s career by any means – he certainly has some talent and a fresh perspective – but hopefully a learning lesson in fabric/silhouette selection and line planning.

-July 1 2010

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