It’s been apparent since Lionne’s runway debut just over a year ago that the woman the brand serves loves tailored, but not stuffy; staples, but not your average; and shapes, statement enough to catch the eye but wearable enough for every day. The brand’s latest runway presentation for New York Fashion Week sees designer Latoia Fitzgerald deliver another heaping dose of sophisticated sultry-chic, the designer tells ESSENCE this time feels more personal – A love letter.
“Knowing that I’m presenting my collection so close to home and getting 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 Fashion Week’s roster of Black designers for the season. “This collection heavily references my childhood growing up in Philly and nostalgic New York fashion, so there is much more of my identity weaved throughout.”
Over on the runway, models were mostly doused in black, save for brief moments of orange, white, and blue denim. However, an emphasis on the shade in high-sheen fabrics (there were tube tops, mini skirts, matching sets, and trench coats all in what look to be vinyl or patent leather materials) catapults the designs into a territory 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-kilter structural silhouettes coming together in unison on the runway. It’s an element that has quickly become a recognizable signature for Lionne, and Fitzgerald tells ESSENCE this collection is a natural progression, with growth, from the last. Beyond aesthetic choices, the collection signals other ways the brand continues to grow, as its first collection produced in Italy (Fitzgerald took fans behind the scenes on Instagram), with an emphasis on higher quality.
Known to draw a star-studded crowd, celebrities such as Draya Michelle and Cassie sat in Lionne’s front row, wearing their favorites from the designer. And far as finales go, attendees were in for a personal love letter greater than even Fitzgerald could have imagined. First, a room-commanding deconstructed leather pant turned cut-out dress. Then, an unexpected marriage proposal closed the show, and the designer left her own runway engaged.
See every look from the show ahead.