Local fashion designer Charles Smith II may have left Dallas for St. Louis, but he still calls it home. After being chosen last August as one of the six designers chosen for the St. Louis Fashion Fund’s incubator program, Smith II set up shop along the Mississippi River with local handbag designer Allison Mitchell and four others for a two-year residency program where he has been receiving mentorship, education, free studio space and a stipend to boot.
Today on DFW Style Daily, we have an exclusive interview with the designer about the sixth season of the high-end luxury brand SMITH II benefiting 10 high school graduate creatives from both the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) and St. Louis Public Schools and what the designer has been up to this past year. His Autumn/Winter 2017 collection titled “Delmar” will debut at Dallas City Hall Fountain this Sunday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m. and will be presented by title sponsor Nancy C. Rogers with special support from Dragonfly Agency and makeup artist Jenn Karsner of LINC PRO. As usual, Smith II plans to wow audiences with the new collection. Read on for the scoop!
DFW Style Daily: What makes this collection special?
Smith II: “[I’m] learning more than ever and applying and nurturing my understanding of fashion even more than ever. Stepping outside my norm and seeing what I can do with chaos, beauty and innovation while maintaining the DNA of the line. I want it to resonate with people and trigger an emotional response.”
You have a strong philanthropic force behind your line – what does that mean do you and what do you look for in a scholarship candidate?
“I want to use my platform and resources to give back to a community that had a hand in making me the man I am today. Influencing the next generation and paying it forward while displaying passion about their future is the point. I want to show them that it’s possible if they are willing to make the necessary sacrifices that it takes to achieve the success they desire.
How would you describe Dallas style?
“Dallas style can’t be defined because we have grown in numbers of different cultures coming from different sides of the earth, in some way making us a smaller version of NYC.”
Tell us more about your experience so far with the St. Louis Fashion Incubator.
“The program and board members have been very accommodating. Mentors within the fashion industry with inside knowledge have been able to help us take our business weaknesses and turn them into strengths.”
You recently claimed that your designs were copied by major fast fashion retailer Forever 21. How can designers learn from this and protect their intellectual property?
“Our lack of laws and the loopholes within intellectual property theft copyrights in America is why they can get away with stealing young creatives designs. Two other brands and I are pursuing legal action together. This will be a long process but we won’t stop fighting.”
What was the inspiration behind the AW17 “Delmar” collection?
“You should expect to be compelled by something that already exists within. I’m just visually presenting a presentation to make you pull the trigger.”
Images courtesy of SMITH II.