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There are few places in New York as opulent as the Rainbow Room. Upon arrival at LaQuan Smith’s fall 2023 runway show, guests were greeted with caviar and champagne. Kimora Lee Simmons and her daughter Ming, Lil Nas X, and Ashley Biden mixed and mingled like they would at a cocktail party. It is no secret that Smith knows how to put on a show (and pick a location: past venues have included the Empire State Building and and the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum), but tonight more than ever, it was all about glamour. 

Perhaps that’s why the show opened to the recognizable timbre of Joan Collins in one of her most iconic moments as Alexis Carrington Colby in Dynasty: “You’ve heard him, Blake, you’re finished, you’ve lost everything, and I am now the owner of this house[...] I’m perfectly sane, so take this junk and your blonde tramp, and get out of my home.” Collins and her co-star Diahann Carroll were muses here.

“This collection has a little bit more of an elevated sophistication,” Smith said at a preview at his Long Island City studio. “The LaQuan Smith woman is growing, and she’s incorporating these sexy elements she finds here in all aspects of her life,” he added. Smith is growing, too. His cut has become more precise and intentional, as has his choice of materials. 

The star of the show was the tailoring. Smith said he didn’t want to take the suiting so seriously, “as we’ve seen classics from all the greats.” This was evidenced by the cleverness of the tuxedo-meets-little black dress of the first exit and the playful sharpness of the cropped jackets. Smith is known for dresses, but here he cut a solid range of trousers: some low-rise, others with hand-folded silk waistbands, but all razor-sharp and with the right fit—not too wide, not too slim, and just long enough to wear with a good pair of stilettos. 

As expected here, there were moments of sheerness, including mesh tops with scooped satin necklines and another with applied strips. More compelling were draped dresses and blouses in sheer tulle with multi-sized velour polka dots and the delicate blouse of look 22. That exit is an example of how much growing Smith and his woman have done over the last few seasons, with its balance of sensuality and sophistication.

Rounding out the lineup were bodysuits, evening dresses, and separates in stretch suede (the vertiginously low slung skirts include built-in panties, a considerate detail), a skirt and bra set in a crinkled metallic leather, and two LBDs in a patent black material. The latter Smith could have done without, the material is clearly hard to drape and the fit detracted from his achievements elsewhere. Ditto the crystal embellished number at the end. 

Smith also included menswear in this lineup, inspired by his recent creation of a custom ensemble for Lenny Kravitz’s CFDA Awards appearance. The looks were worthy companions to his womenswear, and the Kravitz influence was evident, particularly in the coat and monogrammed leather trousers worn by Alton Mason.

Those in the know (and those who are not, it’s time to catch up) will remember that Joan Collins dumped a pair of fur coats off her grand staircase as she voiced those aforementioned Dynasty lines. That’s just what the first model did as she walked onto the balcony, and just what Smith did prior to his bow. An undeniable energy permeates the room at Smith’s shows, the kind not every designer attracts, and the kind you simply can’t fabricate. Smith and his woman certainly were the center of attention here.