LaQuan Smith RTW Spring 2022

At the Empire State Building on Thursday night, LaQuan Smith’s runway experience started outside on Fifth Avenue with a live orchestra on the sidewalk and crush of would-be crashers at the revolving doors.

Talk about creating a stir.

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And that was before Kylie Jenner showed up with her new baby bump, wearing one of the designer’s black lace catsuits.

With a dedicated star following, and a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nomination, Smith knows he is ready to pop like the mini bottles of Champagne guests were guzzling in the Art Deco lobby.

So even though crowd management inside was nonexistent, people kept their cool boarding a first and second set of elevators to reach the famed Observation Deck. Their masks, not so much—and with the packed elevators, let’s hope this was not a super-spreader event.

The view was magical, and with rows of high seats facing out to the skyline, Smith took full advantage of the big city lights.

In the collection, he served up glamour with a side of comfort — slinky draped leather and jersey dresses for going out alongside plush terrycloth rompers, twist crop tops and wrap skirts emblazoned with cursive “L” monograms for me-time.

He also dabbled in what might be called ath-lingerie, as a preview of his forthcoming Puma collection.

Worn by Winnie Harlow, a red snap-front thong bodysuit and low-slung track pants was his take on a shell suit, and corset boning put a feminine spin on a red puffa jacket worn with a short circle skirt.

Meanwhile, a crystal mesh micro minidress, string bikini tops and vinyl pants, and a slinky triangle midriff cutout dress called to the Hollywood red carpet, and a black-and-white Deco print group of looks was all about buy-now wearability.

Smith has keen branding instincts, and knows how to generate fashion electricity. Now he just needs to work on connecting the design dots across categories and refining the quality. Then the empire will come.

Launch Gallery: LaQuan Smith RTW Spring 2022

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