Smith — a native New Yorker — became the first designer to host a fashion show at one of New York City's most iconic landmarks: the Empire State Building. "I felt like, if we're going to come back to live shows, where's the best place to do it? It really felt like this was the best place to do it," he says. "This is a time when people need to feel fabulous again. This is a time when we need to continue to find reasons to celebrate, after coming out of such a shitty year."
"Watching the way that women have been shopping throughout the pandemic, watching the way people have been moving — the anticipation is real," Smith continues. "People want to get dressed up. They want to beat their faces. They want to put on heels. They want to go out. That was really the ammunition for building this collection and showcasing it at the top of the Empire State Building, with Moet champagne and New York City lights. The music, the attitude — that's what I wanted to portray for the Spring 2022 collection."
This latest outing is also another opportunity to flex his creative muscles and show his range as a designer. Smith's been working at that steadily for some time, collaborating with retailers ranging from ASOS to Revolve on daywear, expanding his sizing with 11 Honoré and dabbling in new categories (most recently swimwear with FWRD). There's a partnership with Puma on the horizon, teased on the Spring 2022 runway. He's also, in the past year alone, gone through the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and had multiple viral celebrity moments.
"It's interesting to see the way my woman has grown with me," he says. "I'm an independent designer. I come from pretty much nothing. I build this from the ground up. Back in the day, they would consider me a 'celebrity designer' — I built my business out of doing custom, where people would come to me for a special piece. Now, women are coming to me to build a full wardrobe... My woman is expanding. She's growing. She's not just coming to me for some crazy beaded bustier; now she wants the leggings or the bodysuit or the jacket. She needs options."
That's not to say there's no sexy going-out wares for Spring 2022: The glitz and the glam is very much there (in the form of bedazzled, skin-hugging mini dresses, glittery bra tops and cutout bodysuits), it's just that that energy is also seeping into other parts of your closet. There's an elegant white strapless midi dress with front pockets, a sleeveless cobalt shirtdress with a high-slit skirt and a graphic black-and-white suit with an art deco pattern reminiscent of the very building where it made its debut — all solid daytime propositions. A monogrammed towel mini dress, wrap bodysuit and terry cloth robe are just fun.
This season, Smith also introduced a partnership with AfterPay that added a "see now, buy now" element to the Spring 2022 outing. (Select pieces from the runway were made available to shop on laquansmith.com immediately following the show.) "I want to build my customer base and engage with my direct-to-consumer business — I hope that this initiative is a step in the right direction for doing that," he says.
See the full LaQuan Smith Spring 2022 collection in the gallery below.