LaQuan Smith, the namesake ready-to-wear label of a 31-year-old Queens native, is known for its structured pieces, immaculate fabrics, and bold colors. Smith transformed his brand from 3-D leggings at the start to incredibly-crafted evening dresses and separates, earning fans in Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Beyoncé, and the Kardashians along the way. His latest venture is with Moët & Chandon.
This month, the luxury champagne house tapped Smith for Nectar of the Culture, an annual program celebrating its Nectar Imperial Rosé (heh get it?), with a collaboration with photographer Jonathan Mannion (known for his iconic photographs of Notorious B.I.G, DMX, and Aaliyah). “When you think of luxury champagne and you think of Moet, it’s historic and sexy,” Smith tells Refinery29 at the launch party. “These are things I feel like my brand and I represent. This collaboration is authentic truly within itself and I’m honored to be the New York representation for what that looks like.”
Laquan Smith the brand is intrinsically tied to New York City. The showroom is based in Long Island City, Queens near where Laquan grew up, and he's a proud mainstay on the NYFW calendar. While several other American designers are moving their shows to Paris, Laquan says his commitment to New York is unwavering. “For me it’s important to have the New York representation. Everyone is going to Paris and doing the most, and it’s like where is that same vibrancy when it comes down to the US market or the US designers especially Black designers?” Smith notes. He doesn't feel his brand loses any relevancy by showing in New York. In fact, it motivates him to make even more of an impact. “It’s even more important for me to make a lot of noise and to do everything obnoxiously in the most luxurious way because I’m representing hard for who I am and where I come from.”
His brand ethos also feels very New York: powerful, sexy, desirable. “There is this level of ownership, this level of sophistication," he explains. “It’s provocative but it’s still elegant, seductive but still classy. It’s all these different juxtapositions of she’s a hoe but she’s classy, you know? Most women can identify with that.” His clientele, which ranges from the aforementioned celebs to the everyday working woman, embodies these dualities. “I enjoy the process of dressing women, period. It’s an experience that makes you feel like a superstar even if you are not. That’s the idea of wearing Laquan Smith.”
Okay, so what outfit looks like a glass of Moet? “You’re going to have me going into the design studio because I don’t know but it would be transparent for sure and sparkly.”