Laura Smalls knows romance. One by one, models in her fashion show last week cascaded down a staircase in a penthouse suite at Centurion Condominiums in NYC donning the most elegant and breathtaking little numbers on the planet. Think Sophia Loren and Dorothy Dandridge. Smalls did. She named two of the creations from her stunning Legacy S/S 2012 Collection ‘Peony pink Sophia Loren dress’ and ‘Green Dorothy Dandridge dress with rose-flounced bottom’.
Amid expressions of, “Oh, my”, guests smiled, snapped pictures and whispered among themselves. That the collection was well received is a pretty good assumption. That Smalls is “one to watch” is a definite. After all, Michelle Obama is even a fan. (For this year’s Cinco de Mayo celebration, the first lady wore a green/black watercolor dress by the designer.)
To a crowd that included choreographer George Faison, model Chanel Iman, Vogue magazine contributing writer Andre Leon Tally, opera singer Kathleen Battle and fashion industry veteran Bethann Hardison, models graced the room in sumptuous silk dresses and wrap jumpsuits styled in draping silhouettes; luxurious, gold linen; cowl- and high boat-neck lines; and organza and corset detailing, all in sobering shades of taupe, gray and coral as well as playful bursts of green, blood orange and Oriental floral print. In a return to old-Hollywood glamour, high society, and times when women oozed femininity, Smalls’ new collection is classic and beautiful.
What was your inspiration for the collection?
I was thinking of the film To Catch A Thief (circa 1955) starring Grace Kelly and Carey Grant. I just love those movies. I was imagining if that film were made today in a modern setting, what would be worn? My other inspiration was Nick Ashford who recently passed away. He was like a family member; he was a friend. I was on the fence about doing the show, but I knew he’d want me to do it.
Given the bad economy, what is the biggest challenge facing designers and the fashion world at large?
Sustaining a business, making money…it’s a big challenge to be creative and to be price-sensitive. It’s a challenge to manufacture the product you want while getting the quality you want.
What have you learned about being a businesswoman?
I have to edit myself. I have so many ideas and I really have to nail myself to the bottom line while maintaining my creativity.
To view Laura Smalls' new collection, go to TNJ's Photo Gallery.