Since Lionne’s runway debut a little over a year ago, it’s clear that the woman serving the brand loves tailor-made, but not stuffy; staples, but not your average; and shapes, statement enough to catch the eye, but wearable enough for everyday wear. During the brand’s latest runway presentation for New York Fashion Week, designer Latoia Fitzgerald delivers another hefty dose of sophisticated sultry-chic, the designer tells ESSENCE that feels more personal this time – a love letter.
“Knowing that I’m presenting my collection so close to home and being able to share this moment with my family makes me so emotional,” Fitzgerald tells ESSENCE ahead of Thursday night’s show, which effectively kicked off New York’s roster of black designers. Fashion Week for the season. “This collection has a strong reference to my childhood growing up in Philly and nostalgic New York fashion, so there’s a lot more of my identity woven into it.”
On the catwalk, models were mostly doused in black, save for brief moments of orange, white and blue denim. The emphasis on the shade in high-shine fabrics (there were tube tops, miniskirts, matching sets and trench coats, all in what looks like vinyl or patent leather materials) catapults the designs into an area that is anything but quiet and minimal. In fact, elevating basics far beyond their norm is exactly what Fitzgerald does best, her knack for elongated sleeves, oversized collars and off-structure silhouettes that come together harmoniously on the runway. It’s an element that has quickly become a recognizable signature for Lionne, and Fitzgerald tells ESSENCE that this collection is a natural progression, with growth, from the previous one. In addition to aesthetic choices, the collection also signals other ways in which the brand continues to grow, as the first collection produced in Italy (Fitzgerald took fans behind the scenes on Instagram), with an emphasis on higher quality.
Celebrities like Draya Michelle and Cassie, known for attracting a star-studded crowd, sat in the front row of Lionne wearing their designer favorites. And as for the finales, those in attendance were in for a personal love letter bigger than even Fitzgerald could have imagined. First, a room commander of deconstructed leather pants turned cut-out dress. Then an unexpected marriage proposal closed the show, and the designer left her own catwalk.
Check out every look of the upcoming show.