Monday, February 14, 2011

Personal Inspiration: Byron Lars

Walking into a room where everything is beautiful and the astonishing fashion that is transpiring my mood was created by someone who started like us all. Today I want to introduce you to a very talented individual who I had the opportunity to experience first hand his beautiful work on last Friday as New York City kicked off Fashion Week. Byron Lars has been mentioned in many fashion schools and magazines; however he has fallen under many of our radars. On today I would like to allow you to learn a little more about the man who has dressed our very own first lady Michelle Obama, Disney’s first black princess Anika Noni Rose, Dakota Fanning, and many others.

Byron Lars started designing under his own label in 1991 with a small collection of sportswear focusing on what Lars refers to as "twisted American classics." Taking inspiration from such unlikely sources as his grandfather's hunting jacket, Byron crossbreeds it with a "Dior New Look" proportion to create a Dutchess of Windsor meets Field and Stream hybrid.

Juxtapositions such as above, or as in taking a men's cotton dress shirt and then distorting it to the point of resembling a Dorothy Lamour sarong, have become Byron Lars' trademark. "When edgy fashion is steeped in something familiar, it becomes far less alienating to the consuming public," says Lars.

After only his second season in business, Women's Wear Daily hailed Byron as "Rookie of the Year." His line was immediately snapped up by such prestigious retailers as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's as well as one hundred other specialty stores throughout the U.S. along with some distribution in the U.K. and France.

"I saw it a few days ago and was blown out of the water," exclaims Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president and fashion director of Bloomingdale's referring to the premier fall collection of Lars. "He has the freshest point of view of all the young American designers."

Byron's range of designs became most apparent in his Seventh on Sixth runway presentations in which he created accessories as mere fashion show props, only to attract the attention of licensees in handbags, furs and hats. His notoriety also led to his designing a limited edition of designer Barbie dolls for Mattel.

By the contractual end of his licensees, Byron chose to direct his energy away from the designer collection and focus on a contemporary line and pricing structure. "I wanted it to be more about the clothes and less about the 'hype'," says Lars. This redirection was the beginning of "Byron Lars Beauty Mark." Initially a cotton Lycra shirting based offering, Beauty Mark took its cue from the shirts and shirt dresses of the previous collection that put the designer on the map (only this time, without the lofty price point). Since its inception, Beauty Mark has enjoyed eight years of success and is now expanding its product line to include knits, sportswear and dresses in addition to the chic and sexy shirts for which the line is highly sought after.

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