Byron Lars stormed the industry in the '90s bringing an edge to American fashion and adding excitement to the assortment for retailers like Bergdorfs and Saks Fifth Avenue. After over a decade in the industry and reinventing his brand with the launch of "Byron Lars Beauty Mark," the designer has branched out for an unexpected yet cool spring/summer collaboration with Anthropologie: Beguile by Byron Lars.
While traveling in Asia, the industry veteran found time to discuss the collaboration with ESSENCE.com.
ESSENCE.com: How did your collaboration with Anthropologie come about?
BYRON LARS: I love Anthropologie and was thrilled to learn that they were working on a really designer focused area - "Made in Kind" - which is a meticulously curated offering of rotating featured designers, created to give their customer a true sense of each designer's work. I was even more amped to learn that I would be one of the designers featured for spring/summer and fall/winter 2012 with Beguile by Byron Lars.
ESSENCE.com: Have you always been an admirer of the brand?
LARS: I have always particularly appreciated the intense level of care that Anthropologie puts in their selection. When you're in one of their stores and you stumble upon some precious yet completely accessible find — whether it be a great sweater or that candle stick that you find yourself not being able to live without, you almost get that same rush you do at a flea market when you get your hands on the one of a kind treasure! Their image manages to be very branded without being at all cookie-cutter.
ESSENCE.com: Where and how did you see yourself and your design point-of-view fitting into the Anthropologie aesthetic?
LARS: I really love the way the body conscious aspect of what I typically do melded with Anthropologie's relaxed kaleidoscopic take on the world. Oddly, I never before recognized how complimentary our two aesthetics were before embarking upon this "Beguile" journey!
ESSENCE.com: The synergy between Beguile by Byron Lars and Anthropologie seems so effortless; is there potential for making this a long term collaboration with the brand?
LARS: I think there is great potential for future collections! We both have a vested interest in making beautiful things even better and that real people can afford! By the way, some select "Beguile" pieces will be making their way across the pond to Anthropologie UK for fall 2012.
ESSENCE.com: Tell us more about the inspiration behind the collection. The mixture of prints and fabrics create a look unlike anything we've seen from Byron Lars. What was the focal point while creating the Beguile by Byron Lars collection?
LARS: Spring 2012 was all about botanicals, I got my hands on any and every floral chiffon that I could and then started arranging them on the dress form — kind of like you would flowers in a vase. After getting the mix of floral prints right, I wanted to make them even lighter by appliqueing them onto even sheerer net. It was the palette of these prints that informed the striped knit choices of a bondage T-shirt and dress, each representing the bindings at the base of a bouquet, fresh from the florist.
Fall 2012 in contrast to the spring collection is very graphic, featuring laser cut crepe de Chine in a positive-negative play of black and ivory dots. There are also some new edgy mixed prints, as well as some barely-there jersey knits that reveal Chantilly lace appliqué on the visible underpinnings.
ESSENCE.com: How do you find your inspiration, is the process different with each collection?
LARS: Inspiration can come from any source really, and it is as varied between the seasons as you could ever imagine. For example, one collection in particular from seasons ago was inspired almost entirely by my grandfather — who to me became fashionable in his absolute disregard for fashion, and who also will celebrate his 100th birthday in September! My grandfather has since serving as inspiration for that non-fashion collection, become quite taken with working his many varied looks and now kinda loves it — fashion that is, which just goes to prove that it is never too late to mix it up in life, right?!
ESSENCE.com: I love the playful boho-chic vibe with a touch of maturity. How would you describe the Anthropologie girl?
LARS: I see the Anthropologie girl as marching to the beat of a different drummer. She has a joyous freedom about the way she expresses herself and her clothes are evidence of that expression to the world she inhabits.
ESSENCE.com: How is the Beguile by Byron Lars woman differ from the woman you usually design for?
LARS: I think that the "Beguile" woman is the alter ego of the woman for which I usually design. "Beguile" let's her take her hair down and smell the roses, and in the case of the spring collection, it lets her smell the peonies, daffodils and bouganville as well — all while remaining effortlessly pulled together.
ESSENCE.com: If you had to choose a favorite piece, which would it be?
LARS: If I had to choose a favorite piece, I guess it would have to be the barely-there jersey fit and flare dress from the new fall "Beguile" collection. It's a very humble fit and flare t-shirt dress with couture aspirations, boasting horse hair at the hem of the skirt and Chantilly lace appliqué on its nude colored underpinnings. This dress makes me think of that proud black mother in the hood who constantly reminds her daughter that she can reach any height but, she mustn't forget where she came from while doing so.
ESSENCE.com: What would be one word to best describe this collection?
LARS: This collection in a word is SUPERFEMINISTICBODYCONSCIOUSMAKE-ME-EVENMOREFABULOUS! I know that's cheating but, I really couldn't pick just one word...geez!
Shop Beguile by Byron Lars in the gallery above.