In case you missed it, the fashion landscape is changing at lightning speed in our hyperdigital era, but if there's one designer who's clearly imagined what the new generation looks like and then successfully brought that visualization to life, it's LaQuan Smith. In a historical move on more than one account, the designer became the first ever to hold a New York Fashion Week show at the Empire State Building, and we still need a moment to process the level of iconicism. But it wasn't enough to woo the onlooking crowd of editors, retail buyers, and celebs such as Lori Harvey, The City Girls, and Ciara in attendance — the designer also teamed up with new NYFW sponsor Afterpay for a "see now, buy now" initiative, releasing part of his spring/summer '22 collection to shop (in instalments, nonetheless) immediately after the show.
"[This collection is] the idea of what comfortability and sexy looks like in one reward."
For the uninitiated, Afterpay is the Australian financial technology company partnering with brands to make shopping easier by allowing customers to split their payments into four — but it's not as if you needed the additional temptation to snag a piece or two from LaQuan Smith's first readily available collection. "I think this is a great way to tie in the inclusive aspect of how to shop," Smith told POPSUGAR. Even in a pandemic-stricken world, designers have found it's clear customers are ready to get dressed up again, and the ability to pay over six weeks with Afterpay can help lessen the immediate financial impact of even a runway piece. "I think we are filling in a wide space in a way," Smith said. "For a long time, people felt sort of intimidated by the idea of luxury. [This is] a great way to be able to show consumers that we care, and we want you to be a part of this luxurious experience as well." Included in the eight-piece drop with Afterpay are off-the-shoulder tops and draped hoodies bearing the brand's name in an electric font along with a LaQuan Smith x Puma catsuit (can you say "sultry"?), a leather baseball cap, and your new favourite little black bag.
Above: Ciara, La La, and Lori Harvey sit front row at LaQuan Smith
As for the show in its entirety, models took to the tip top of the Empire State Building wearing slinky silhouettes that have now become synonymous with the LaQuan Smith brand. (A poodle also made a runway appearance.) In one take, the collection encapsulates the stirring feeling of longingly returning to glamour and party dressing juxtaposed against our newfound appreciation for home. "My approach to [this] collection was sort of bridging the two extreme feelings," Smith said. "It's the idea of what comfortability and sexy looks like in one reward."
To that end, in a colour palette that progressed from nudes to blues and reds, and then to blacks and whites, there were draped skirts slung low on models' hips, plunging necklines, bold shoulders, cutouts galore, and leg warmers because, well, when in New York, right? One model donned a pair of almost liquified faux patent-leather pants — a signature across the designer's preceding three collections, but this time in an alluring blue. On the flip side, another wore a ground-sweeping fuzzy coat to expose a crystal-encrusted bra, baring a tiny bottle of Moët champagne in hand (because same). And if anything is a sign the collection is set to be a celeb hit, a pregnant Kylie Jenner was simultaneously spotted out in New York City wearing a custom rendition of the show's look 50, which on the runway is presented as a full lace halter top jumpsuit complete with matching gloves and a maxi sarong.
The collection rounded itself out with track pants, cap-sleeved tees, and a plush robe, meaning it's safe to say Smith was successful in proving the fashion girl can indeed have the best of both worlds. If you know anything about the designer, you know he was sure to wave at the crowd wearing his signature black turtleneck following the finale. You can virtually enjoy a rewatch of the show as well as shop the "see now, buy now" portion of the collection exclusively on Afterpay, but first, you'll want to take in every look ahead.