NYFW Spring 2024
By Ann Cooper
I will always remember the first time that I came across clothing by designer Byron Lars. I had been browsing on-line for that special outfit when an image of a remarkable and uniquely designed dress caught my attention. Fascinated, I embarked on an obsessively extensive search for more of my discovery and became seduced by the enchanting world of Byron Lars Beauty Mark – a brand that mastered the art of what I described as linear- layering, where fabrics of contrasting patterns, textures and colors marry perfectly, giving birth to an exquisite collection of feminine dresses and ensembles in a variety of thoughtfully crafted silhouettes. It is no wonder that one of his dresses will be forever part of American history at the highest level, having been worn by former first lady Michelle Obama for her White House family portrait. Nicole Ari Parker, Angela Basset, Taylor Swift, Felicity Jones are among the many distinguished women with Beauty Mark dresses in their closets. Along the way I discovered Byron’s Black Barbie dolls, a novelty by a black designer. This is Byron’s homage to black women, glamorously attired dolls representative of black women of all hues.
Byron’s preview of his Spring 2024 collection was presented at Red Rooster Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem. It was a showcase of his latest iteration “IN EARNEST”, a partnership with his colleague Sheila Gray, founder, and CEO of Sheila Gray Collection “a brand known for its eye-catching accessories and “Gray-Girl” tees, adorned with custom fashion figures and embellished with textured fabrics.” An eponymous tribute to his dearly departed father Earnest (it also happens to be Byron’s middle name). IN EARNEST has been described as “a narrative on collectability with each piece having collectible specialness.” Byron heralded it as a “reboot after Covid. A fresh start and a gift to women whom they both adore, with great clothes and a great experience.”. IN EARNEST for him exemplifies “existing to a greater extent or more intensely than before and living it up while living your best life”.
It was Byron ‘s Black Barbies that spoke to Sheila’s “inner doll” which she described as “never having seen us represented like this before.” As partners they are known as a dynamic duo and this synergy was on full display that night. IN EARNEST models walked in Byron’s signature designs, this time around with more sparkle, bolder and edgier. Sheila’s tees are whimsical, fun treats that when layered beneath a Byron Lars jacket with a “hats-terpiece” courtesy McFadden Millenary (the show’s milliner that night), is a girl’s ultimate fashion -happy- place.
Byron’s and Sheila’s personalities are cheerful and infectious. His ever-present broad smile and her joyful aura are compelling and sincere. They are IN EARNEST.