Lauren Smith learned basic sewing skills from her grandmother when she was in second grade, but is otherwise self-taught.
At a young age, she was glued to the television once a week for CNN's Style with Elsa Klensch like many other fashion devotees. In 2002, with a marketing degree under her belt, Raleigh-based Smith started Lllavender, a women's clothing line. The llluscious spelling of the word was inspired by her baby sister's speech and pronunciation.
Smith has just completed her second collection. The 30 outfits unveiled at her sexy and hip fashion show held in an industrial warehouse in downtown Raleigh last weekend were not only remarkable but also classic and unforgettable. The show was self-sponsored by Smith and promoted by What the Funk Productions. DJ proto j mixed things up on the turntables and LINK provided live music.
The collection reflects Smith's desire to try new techniques such as fitted jackets, and experiment with garment structure and texture, keeping it simple all the while. Smith does not follow current trends. Her design philosophy is simple: She creates the clothes she wants to wear. She assumes "the wearer is a confident, fun woman." Her sexy and wearable clothes can be dressed up or down, and comfort is fundamental.
Many of Smith's pieces have interesting necklines, curious geometry or contrasting trim details. Her favorites include a series of form-loving, easy-to-wear dresses that she describes as "sewing a shirt to a skirt." She's fond of a perfectly tailored "business style" skirt-suit in a wild pastel pink and multicolored print, because it is both interesting and conservative. Also notable on the runway were knockout "Bond Girl" inspired jumpsuits, military cut jackets with a hint of Victorian class, long relaxed dresses with mesh details and casual shirts varying from apron style to boat-neck and gathered at the waist, that can easily be paired with jeans.
There is more fabric in Smith's home (which doubles as her studio) than furniture, and she is always searching for more materials. Most of the fabrics she uses are discontinued ones purchased by the bolt. Her palate is playful and colorful, ranging from earthtones to bright pastels in comfortable knits with a little stretch to them.
Smith's market niche has been the low-end in high-end Triangle stores, where her pieces sold for $70-120. She is taking a break from filling those orders and is currently exploring internet sales, and her Web site www.lllavender.com should be up in the near future. Online marketing will allow Smith the opportunity to concentrate on design.
Smith is a bright and talented designer with big dreams. Ultimately, she would like Lllavender to be a recognized name in the industry, but for now, it would make her happy to support herself by doing what she loves--designing clothes.
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