BACK ON THE FASHION RADAR
Designer BYRON LARS burst on the scene some ten years ago and was hailed as the next big designer. Before Fashion week became the event it has grown to be, Lars staged enormous shows in the tents at Bryant Park, an invitation to his show was the hottest ticket in town. Then something happened, he fell off the radar…. the Byron Lars fashion phenomena seem to ease into oblivion. Why did this young designer with terrific promise seem to just disappear? People in the fashion circle knew that Byron was still designing and created a successful shirt collection. He also dressed faithful fans from Hollywood trendsetter Kim Kardashian, to screen starlets Anika Noni Rose, Jessica Biel, Dakota and Elle Fanning and even First Lady Michelle Obama. Byron also created a limited edition of designer Barbie dolls for Mattel, but he was void of the spotlight.
A REFRESHING LAUNCH
Fast forward to New York Fashion Week – Fall 2011 collections. The buzz among fashion insiders was the launch of `Byron Lars Beauty Mark’ to be shown in a forest penthouse-overlooking Lincoln Center. His assemblage of classic American sportswear staples, infused with Native American spirit was warmly received. There was an amazing energy surrounding the 21 beautifully crafted pieces that were on display. It was Byron’s first show in many years, we all came to the realization how we totally missed being up close and surrounded by his creative genius. A refreshing fashion moment to say the least…. Later, I chatted with Byron at his mid-Manhattan workroom, surrounded by lots of fabric, sketches and the wonderful ambiance that fuels this New Yorker, who, all of a sudden is being labeled `The comeback kid.’
THE COMEBACK KID
“I haven’t been anywhere, the whole landscape of the fashion industry has changed. I get back on different terms. I had my intimate 15 minutes and now I have a real business, it does not intimidate me like it did before,” said the designer. Looking back at his debut as a designer over 10 years ago, Byron revealed: “Its not supposed to happen that way, you are supposed to build a business, the Japanese backed out and I thought I can make the stuff and ship it. Now, people say `Are you still here?’ I haven’t been anywhere.”
Why did Byron decide to step back into the spotlight? “Kim Hastreiter from Paper Magazine said: `Dude, you gotta do something, nobody knows you are here!’ It was already coming together, we did a little thing for Fashion Night Out and it got some feedback. It wasn’t so terrible. I decided if I was going to do it, I planned not to do a runway show. The best part of any show in my estimate, is when all of the models are lined up for the `walk out,’ you can talk to the models, see and feel everything. I love the whole convenience factor. So the staging was perfect with all of the models posing in the forest as a collective.”
FABRICS AND THINGS
Byron described his collection as a refined tribal and some good clean American sportswear. “I kinda just let it happen. The venue gave the idea of indoors/ outdoors and the fabrics spoke to us. I used lots of textured boucle, tweeds, rayon and poly-viscose; they look wooly but they are soft and cuddly. I did want to do some blanketed coats; we looked for fabrics that could achieve that look. Many laces re-applique on a sheer structure, and there was that great silver coat-dress.”
THE DECISIVE CUSTOMER
Staying focused on what he is doing as opposed to checking on the trends and fads of the moment, Byron stays on his path; “I notice that I tend to reference more historical fashion, just because its from my sensibilities and I tend to run that way. I try not to look at contemporary fashion; it overwhelms me because there is so much out there. When you don’t over stimulate yourself, you come out with a fresher point of view.” We queried who exactly is the Byron Lars customer…”She’s a lady and she’s a girl, it’s a diverse group of people, its hard to define her. She demands a lot, at a quality price, she wants to look better. A lot of these clothes are structured, even if you have a body it will show it. Like pockets strategically placed on busts, you have to look real close to see the details…. Sometimes I think why I do all this work on these clothes because they don’t appreciate it,” he laughs.
Now that the show is over and the work continues, Byron’s reaction to all the recent attention was that of a seasoned professional who is serious about his mission and takes it all in stride. “It was really touching. It was nice to know that people cared enough to come. It’s reassuring. There are a lot of new players in the business but its not scary… Initially, at first I felt relief. I have so much more left in me, not like back in the day, back then there was an anti-climatic low, then its over. Now, its different, there is less of that now, there is more to do, its just one piece of the puzzle.” Byron Lars Beauty Mark is sold in about 400 specialty stores and boutiques as well as Lord & Taylor. Visit: byronlarsbeautymark.com
By Walter Greene | Published in Profiles98 Summer Issue 7 2011