As a child growing up alongside eight sisters, Daiquonne Lanier expressed an early attraction to the world of fashion by making dresses for dolls and drawing pictures of chic women headed to church or parties. Now armed with a degree in fashion design and merchandising from the International Academy of Design and Technology, the San Antonio native launched his eponymous line Lanier last year with an aim to “establish an image set apart from the ever-growing community of streetwear designers.” Inspired by Hollywood glamour, bygone eras and the refined aesthetic of Italian fashion icon Valentino Garavani, Lanier presents himself as a womenswear designer specializing in evening and cocktail wear.
Although he designed a custom gown for local stylist Kirsten Thompson to wear to the San Antonio Fashion Awards last year, Lanier’s work has remained somewhat under wraps save for a few well-received teasers released via social media. (A video preview he shared on Facebook has amassed 2,700 views.) Taking shape in a ticketed runway presentation of tightly edited looks, Lanier’s debut collection “Jacquelynne: A Transformative Composition” is built around a semi-autobiographical narrative that explores redemption and self-love while referencing an old-school style icon. “One of my favorite fashion influencers is Jackie Onassis,” Lanier told us. “So much of her style, poise and grace were the root of the inspiration for this collection.” (Coincidentally, Jackie O was also a big fan of Valentino and wore his clothes almost exclusively for a period in the 1960s.)
In anticipation of Lanier’s big reveal, we quizzed the emerging designer about his creative influences, the themes shaping his first show and his hopes for his new brand.
Can you explain how the themes of transformation and tragic romance factored into your debut collection? At the time in which the initial inspiration for the collection came to me, I was going through the preliminary phases of my divorce from my now ex-husband. During our marriage, I had ceased all creative endeavors so that I could focus on my partner. I became a completely different person while I was with him. There came a point where I was totally disassociated from myself. That was the moment I knew that as long as we were together, I couldn’t be who I really wanted to be. I loved my husband, but he loved me in a different way. So from that moment is where the transformation took place and ultimately what fueled the inspiration for this collection.
You’ve mentioned wanting to stand apart from streetwear designers. How and why do you differ from that genre? It’s always been such a struggle for me to relate to streetwear and the grunge aesthetic. As an artist, I can appreciate the work. However, I’ve never identified with that look ... One of my favorite quotes from Valentino is: “Forget about fashion — the grunge look, the messy look. I cannot see women destroyed, uncombed, or strange. I want to make a girl who arrives someplace and makes people turn and say, ‘You look sensational!’” I think there’s something so vital to the first part of what he says.
Do you see your garments as being one-of-a-kind or do you plan on going into production with certain pieces? I don’t see myself going into mass production. I enjoy the exclusivity that comes with custom work.
How many looks are in the debut collection? This collection started out [at] about 37 pieces. After cutting that in half, I still wasn’t pleased with the overall composition of the looks ... I chose my top 10 pieces from the collection and reviewed them, which took about two months. Seeing them together and realizing how these 10 pieces were so representative of the body of work as a whole, I had to stick with these. I was really apprehensive about such a small number ... but I really wanted to be certain that the pieces I showed told the story exactly how I wanted the viewer to receive it.
What are your ultimate hopes and goals for Lanier? It’s so hard to place goals on something that’s so new and organic ... I consider myself to be a creative first — fashion design is just the avenue I choose to express through. I’ve never sought out to be the next big designer or have a global brand ... I’m still young and learning and hope to continue to learn and grow in my craft. The only wish for my brand as of today is that it influences others to explore their creativity and put into action their dreams. I know for sure that this process has taught me how much I love telling stories, so I definitely hope to continue to be able to to touch and inspire people through my craft and the narrative that each garment is a part of.
Jacquelynne: A Transformative Composition$15-$20, 7-10pm Fri, Apr. 14, Brick, 108 Blue Star, (210) 262-8653, jacquelynne.splashthat.com.