NEW YORK – Julia Fox, fresh from her breakup with the artist formerly known as Kanye West, opened LaQuan Smith's New York Fashion Week show in black as the designer honored his beloved late mentor, Andre Leon Talley, with a moment of silence Monday night inside a century-old private club.
His guests scattered around rooms at the Down Town Association, among the city's oldest private clubs, Smith put out a refined yet still signature sexy collection full of sparkle in gold, blue and red, and tiny minis with carved out cutouts in all the right places.
After the show, Fox told The Associated Press of her split with Ye: “I love Kanye. We're still very good friends and I wish him nothing but the best.”
The breakup with Fox after six weeks of dating came as Ye has ranted on social media about his estranged wife, Kim Kardashian West, and new beau Pete Davidson. On Sunday night, Valentine's Day, he posted a truckload of red roses he had delivered to the Hidden Hills, California, mansion where Kim lives with their four children. It's a home they once shared.
To open Smith's show, Fox wore a high-neck, long-sleeve black evening dress with cutouts at the midriff, chest and back that hugged her body at the 163-year-old club in the Financial District. Like other clubs of the times, the Down Town Association — filled with marble and deep-stained wood — was once male only but began admitting women in 1985. Its walls remain adorned with painted portraits of white men.
Smith, a rare Black designer to establish himself at New York Fashion Week, remains a go-to for the young and party happy. He told the AP in a backstage interview that he chose the club because he was looking for a change in mood after taking over the observation deck of the Empire State Building last September for his fashion week show.
“I'm excited about this space,” he said. “I wanted to do something that felt sort of romantic in a way. This show and this season is really about the revival of New York City, celebrating New York designers, celebrating American designers.”
The women who buy his clothes, Smith said, are “all about being the center of attention.” They won't be disappointed with his bold use of color and sequins, or his sparkly leotards worn with low-slung pants, back thong out. But this season, it wasn't just about baring skin.
Smith put out some classics in camel coats and day dresses trimmed in fur worthy of the ladies who lunch rather than the party 'til dawn set. One coat came in luscious moss green leather with a soft cozy lapel and lining. He put the Smith twist on the ensemble by showing it over a tiny leo, his model in dark shades with a statement necklace as a finish.
His latest collection remained mostly about the va-va-voom upon which Smith has built his reputation.
“Women are shopping and that is even more of an incentive,” he said. “It's about giving people a sense of hope. People want to celebrate. People want to get dressed up.”
Of Talley, who died on Jan. 18, Smith said he took some time to mourn. The legendary Vogue editor took Smith under his wing when the designer was just 21. He was more than a mentor, Smith said. He nourished him when he needed it the most.
“He changed my life. Andre gave me money to go to Paris. I had never been to Paris before. Andre said you take this check and you go to Paris and you just sit down at a cafe. You go to the Champs-Élysées. He really believed in me at the age of 21."
The 33-year-old Smith, a Queens native, established his namesake brand in 2013. He has dressed Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Kardashian West and Hailey Bieber. But he's never notched a win at the Academy Awards, which this year will be held on March 27. Smith is mostly cocktail and evening focused, rather than statement ball gowns, but he's hoping to remain in building mode.
“I haven't had that opportunity as of yet,” Smith said of the Oscars. “I really look forward to the future. I'm very optimistic."
Associated Press writers Aron Ranen and John Carucci in New York contributed to this story.