TEN QUESTIONS WITH FASHION DESIGNER BYRON LARS
UBC: HOW DID YOUR JOURNEY AS A DESIGNER BEGIN?
BL: I would have to say that my journey as a Fashion Designer all started at the age of fifteen when a neighborhood friend who sewed beautifully refused to make a pair of pants for me that I wanted desperately. Along with her refusal however, she did offer to teach me to sew so that I might have then for myself.
With my friends guidance the pants turned out great and got rave reviews from the kids at school which after a very short time led to me starting a small business designing and making prom dresses for some of the more daring girls on campus.
Not only didn’t I want any of the guys at school to have pants like mine but, I reasoned that the girls were sure to fork over a lot more doe for a prom dress than any guy would for a pair of pants. This was my entry into women’s wear.
The joy of artistic expression aside, it was more the realization at that age that I was actually capable of producing something that was not only desirable but in fact useful to someone other than myself, that was so empowering. From my first prom dress success, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to be a Fashion Designer.
UBC: HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE NAME “BEAUTY MARK” AND WHAT IS SIGNIFIGANCE TO YOUR BRAND?
BL: The simple concept of a mark of beauty is where the name Beauty Mark came from. I really want the brand to be about the clothing making a woman look better by paying meticulous attention to fit and detail.
I’ve heard so many of our customers exclaim that they get more compliments when wearing our clothes than when wearing anything else that they own. When you see our mark or label, this is the experience that I would like the brand to evoke.
UBC: WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES A BLACK DESIGNER DIFFERENT, IF ANYTHING?
BL: I think that the experiences of Black people are so varied including Black designers that it would be hard for me to generalize what would distinguish them from their non-Black counterpart.
I would have to say however that a commonality among Black designers that I would be bold enough to assert as such is a tenacity that is intensified as a result of a fashion world that is less than eager to recognize them as the viable resource that they are.
UBC: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FASHION CITY AND WHY?
BL: Paris is hands down my favorite fashion city because they really dare to make fashion dreams reality. There you see at retail many of the fantastic clothes from runway images that you may have deemed unrealistic.
UBC: HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT THE MOST VISIBLE BLACK WOMAN ON THE PLANET, MICHELLE OBAMA AND HER STYLE?
BL: Although Michelle Obama’s personal style is irrefutably impeccable, it is pretty far down on my list of her points of appeal.
I am incredibly proud of her and how she seems to have been born to the role of First Lady as much as her husband was born to the role of Commander and Chief.
UBC: IF YOU COULD DRESS MICHELLE OBAMA, WHAT KIND OF GARMENT WOULD YOU CREATE FOR HER?
BL: I don’t think that I would have to create anything special for the First Lady because so many of the clothes that we make and have been making for some time now are truly perfect for her.
UBC: HOW IMPORTANT IS MAKE-UP AND HAIR IN YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS? IS IT SOMETHING YOU THINK ABOUT WHILE DESIGNING THE GARMET OR DO YOU SEE IT AS A FLOURISH TO BE CONSIDERED AFTERWARD?
BL: It is definitely not the first thing on my list of consideration when designing a collection, although I am very aware of its importance to the complete presentation. When the hair and make up are good, you notice how beautiful the woman is but, when the hair and make up are bad you only notice how bad they are.
UBC: YOU PARTICIPATED IN BET’S RIP THE RUNWAY 09. HOW WAS THAT?
BL: Rip the Runway was a really great experience. The energy of the live performance fused with the diversity of the collections shown made for an exciting and inclusive exclusive.
UBC: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGNS?
BL: Well crafted and tastefully sexy.
UBC: WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING BLACK DESIGNERS?
BL: Work like hell, never give up and always keep your mind open because it’s the only means by which you will recognize the next thing and be able to determine whether or not that next thing is your thing.
UBC: WHAT SHOULD BLACK WOMEN KNOW ABOUT BYRON LARS BEAUTY MARK?
BL: I really want Black women to know that these clothes will glorify the junk in their trunk.