Black Designers Represent on the Runway

Twice a year, fashion folks caravan from New York to London to Milan to Paris for the ready-to-wear shows. Paris Fashion Week wraps this week, sending fashionistas scuttling to their respective corners. The Root asked style expert Harriette Cole to look at what black designers were showing on the runway for Spring/Summer 2011. Here's a sampling.

Image 1
  • Laura Smalls' LWD (Little White Dress)

    Laura Smalls' LWD (Little White Dress)

    Now in her third season, thanks to a loving nudge from Andre Leon Talley, Laura Smalls shines with beautiful clothing for elegant women. One of her little white dresses (a trend for spring season) includes a fit-and-flare bodice and a delicate hood.

     

    Captions by Harriette Cole

  • Laura Smalls: Evening Wear

    Laura Smalls: Evening Wear

    Evening wear is a Laura Smalls specialty. This bronze metal shadow striped gown with a mermaid hem drew audible gasps at her show.

  • b Michael's Haitian Odyssey

    b Michael's Haitian Odyssey

    Veteran couturier b Michael decided to dedicate his show this season to uplifting and remembering Haiti. To that end, he used Haitian-inspired prints on some garments, as with this whimsical day dress.

  • b Michael's Casual Side

    b Michael's Casual Side

    b Michael chose jewelry made by Haitian hands to complement this casual ensemble. The trousers feature a mud-cloth-like pattern.

  • b Michael: Pretty in Pink

    b Michael: Pretty in Pink

    For an infusion of color, b Michael featured a sweet pink strapless cocktail dress with a veil on one sleeve.

  • Rachel Roy's Sleek Silhouette

    Rachel Roy's Sleek Silhouette

    Rachel Roy’s silhouettes this season were sleek, with a bit of menswear inspiration. One outfit here features a cropped trouser paired with a structured bustier over a shirt. The other pairs a printed cardigan, turquoise shirt and caramel menswear shorts. Both manage to be both sexy and androgynous.

  • Rachel Roy Dresses Up

    Rachel Roy Dresses Up

    For dress-up, Rachel Roy chose sumptuous metallic fabrics cut into the simplest silhouettes.

  • The Vessel by Lois

    The Vessel by Lois, designed by former model Lois Samuels, features menswear-inspired minimalist silhouettes with a twist, like this suit featuring cutoff pants.

  • The Vessel by Lois: All Business

    Pin stripes on a business dress show the designer’s ability to play it straight.

  • Bensoni's Subtle Prints

    Bensoni's Subtle Prints

    The design duo of Benjamin Channing Clyburn and Sonia Yoon created subtle prints on easy silhouettes. A showstopper was the mix of soft animal prints with a long flowing skirt and a sheer menswear shirt.

  • Bensoni's Ice Cream Flavors

    Bensoni's Ice Cream Flavors

    A trendy burst of color came in this flirty dress in bold yellow-green sorbet.

  • LaQuan Smith's Whimsy

    LaQuan Smith's Whimsy

    LaQuan Smith’s fantastical show was inspired by days of old in France: the time of Marie Antoinette. This feisty little tapioca dress is perfect for editorial — not so sure about the streets of New York City, let alone Chicago or Atlanta.

  • LaQuan Smith's Star Power

    LaQuan Smith's Star Power

    LaQuan Smith is hot right now, so much so that he attracted cameo catwalkers such as singer Cassie, wearing this brocade number.

  • Serena Williams Hearts LaQuan Smith, Too

    Serena Williams Hearts LaQuan Smith, Too

    Smith also coaxed Serena Williams into walking his show in a dress that had been completed only moments before she stepped onto the runway.

  • Shavonne Cooper's Stairway to Heaven

    Shavonne Cooper's Stairway to Heaven

    Years ago, Project Runway designer Epperson staged an outdoor fashion show at Bryant Park, timed perfectly as some of the biggest editors waited to see a show. This year, Shavonne Cooper used the grand stairs of the plaza at Lincoln Center to present five ensembles, including a geometrically cut romper.

  • Byron Lars' Body-Con Fashion

    Byron Lars' Body-Con Fashion

    Byron Lars is famous for sculpting clothing to accentuate the positives of a woman’s body. This double-breasted coatdress does that and more with grace and ease.

  • Byron Lars' Flirty Fashion

    Byron Lars' Flirty Fashion

    A flirty lace ensemble presents a new twist on Byron Lars’ craftsmanship.

  • Stephen Burrows' Classics

    Stephen Burrows' Classics

    Working with his signature fabric matte jersey as well as other fine fabrics, Stephen Burrows designed sexy city clothes inspired by the New York City skyline.

  • Tracy Reese: On the Road Again

    Tracy Reese: On the Road Again

    Travel was the theme for Tracy Reese’s Spring/Summer 2011 fashion show. She envisioned going to many global locales and traveling with the only wardrobe, like this little blue dress with beaded circle appliqués and a dash of chiffon at the bust.

  • Tracy Reese Gets Her Swirl On

    Tracy Reese Gets Her Swirl On

    Ink tones are predominant in this Tracy Reese dress that features a water-inspired swirl design.