For art appreciators, fashion fiends, and culture critics, there’s no better way to kick off the month of December than poolside in Miami for Art Basel being surrounded by like-minded creatives. For my birth month (and yes, I take up the entire month of December for my birthday), I indulged in all the things that Miami had to offer, including a Thursday night out on the town for dinner and drinks with designer LaQuan Smith.
On behalf of Crown Apple and famed luxury fashion designer LaQuan Smith, I was flown out to Miami, Florida to experience my very first Art Basel experience. Now, I have been to Miami on numerous occasions for leisure and turn-up purposes, but this time was different in the best way possible. After landing on Wednesday and taking a day to myself to unwind and take a bubble bath, I woke up on Thursday with excitement in my spirit for my private dressing suite and fitting with Smith himself.
“It’s so important for designers such as LaQuan to have this 1 on 1 time with editors as it keeps our narrative and dialogue open. Sometimes fashion can be a bubble where creativity can be stifled by the yearly commitments of fashion week and market appointments,” Kyle Bryan, Brand Director of LaQuan Smith, told me about spending an intimate afternoon with myself and two other writers for a styling experience. “This real-time conversations gives our consumers and the readers a glimpse into our industry and ultimately updates on our priorities and future plans.”
Smith described his partnership with Crown Royal Apple as “fairly new,” but praised DIAGEO for their continued support of his brand throughout the years. In addition to one of his personal favorite drinks being an Old Fashioned because he “loves a good whiskey moment,” he felt aligned with the brand in more ways than just recreational drinking. “Working with a brand who really understands and celebrates Black creativity is something that I’m always down to collaborate with,” he told me.
As a creative and fashion designer himself, Smith appreciates the culture and community found during Art Basel and encourages Black creatives to indulge when they can. “For me, Art Basel really is about the celebration of art, culture, music, fashion, inclusion and diversity while celebrating all things creativity. Sure, I’m not stroking on a canvas, but in a way that I’m sort of creating these glamorous experiences with my artwork is sort of a contribution to what Art Basel is all about.”
When I arrived to Mr. C Miami, Crown Apple greeted me with delicious cocktails as I entered the studio on the fifth floor. I was greeted by LaQuan Smith himself, who alongside his brand director Kyle helped me to pick out my perfect fit for an intimate event during Art Basel in Miami. As we slowly approached the rack of clothes lined up against the left-hand wall consisting of collections across all seasons, they proceeded to ask me about my personal style and taste. If you know me, you know that I love a mix of masculine and feminine elements in my clothes, with baggy and oversized at the top of my must-haves. With that being said, I wasn’t prepared for what suggestions would come next.
“I always view everyone as an individual,” Bryan added when asked how he goes about styling and selecting fits for individuals. “Everyone should feel exclusive, 1 of 1, and their most confident self. Regardless of age, race, size, or gender every person should feel their most sexy and glamorous self.”
Up first was a pair of leather cargo-style pants that had my name written all over it called the Ninja Joy pant. From the camel tones to the zipper, string, and pocketing details, this was absolutely a pair of pants that I would have my closet today. Paired with a red transparent-style mockneck long-sleeve known as the Oxblood Knit Top ($380 USD), the outfit came together nicely but I knew for my first Art Basel experience, I was allowed to push the envelope just a bit more.
The next outfit would be the one, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a spurt of hesitancy when it was pulled for me. It was everything that I wasn’t in regards to fashion – sexy, see-through, sultry, body-hugging, and baring all. I was nervous, but in the spirit of indulging in the full experience, I tried it on. The sheer blue printed set from LaQuan Smith’s SS21 Collection with original vintage cadillac print was the winner from the start and I couldn’t wait to wear it out.
After putting on the full outfit and stepping from behind the makeshift dressing room in the back corner of the room, I saw literal gags from Mark and LaQuan confirming that this outfit was the one for me. At first when stripping down to put on the clothes, I felt a little insecure because I was bloated, didn’t have the snatched waist that most Miami goers typically do, and I didn’t think my body could do it justice; but after taking a peek at myself in the mirror, I was impressed. Of course, with the design because hello, it’s LaQuan Smith but with my ability to accept and love my body for what it was. The way that the sheer pants and top gave a merge of sultry and classy while hugging my curves in the right places sold me on the set and encouraged me to challenge myself.
Have I officially become a LaQuan Smith girlie? *Gasp* While the idea of being considered for this next step in my pursuit for Black girl luxury, what exactly do Bryan and Smith define as the LaQuan Smith woman?
“She should always stick to the rivers that she’s used to, meaning be yourself,” Smith playfully quoted TLC. “For me, my clothing is just that added on experience. I think a woman should always be her most confident self. My clothes are really just to bring out the inner workings of female empowerment and feeling unapologetically sexy in your own skin. That’s exciting for me to see how you incorporate LaQuan Smith into your organic original style.”
Bryan added, “The LaQuan Smith woman is an alpha woman who is unapologetically glamorous. Every time she walks into a room, she commands the attention, even if it’s a grocery store, nightclub, or board room.” It sounded like I pretty much check all of the boxes – at least after the fitting.
If this is just a snippet of what he has previously designed, I’m excited to hear about what he has coming up next. Thankfully, Smith gave me the tea on what customers can expect in the very near future. “I have a PUMA collaboration coming out fairly soon. I did my own capsule collection with them really showcasing sportswear,” he disclosed. “I’m working on my Autumn/Winter ‘23 collection, which is debuting in February. There’s a lot going on, but just stay tuned.”
Once it was time to hit the town, I was excited to see the full look come together. Paired with an open-toe pair of heels from Charlotte Russe, I was amazed at the final result that I saw in the mirror. If LaQuan Smith did anything, he did THAT. Not only was I dressed in a Black-owned luxury fashion brand, but I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone and push the envelope when it comes to loving on my body more and more. A beat face courtesy of yours truly featuring other Black-owned brands including The Good Mineral and FENTY Beauty, I’m confident enough now to say that I literally slayed my first Art Basel with the hands of LaQuan Smith blessing the garments I wore.
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