On January 13, Strutz Miami— a one-of-a-kind drive-in fashion show— kicked off on a Miami parking lot rooftop. The vision of wardrobe stylist and CEO of DezignNation Productions Aguy Smith, the cutting-edge event featured everything from high fashion looks to casual sportswear. Featured brands include Project Runway Season 15 finalist Laurence Basse’s namesake collection, Sivad Ade’s regal creations and Over A Trillion Served’s streetwear.
CASSIUS took in all the behind-the-scenes action at the event and got to talk with the visionaries behind these brands. Check out what they shared about how they got started in the industry, their initial thoughts on a “drive-in”-themed fashion show and where they hope to see their labels in the future.
Designer: Laurence Basse
Label: Laurence Basse Collection
Based: Los Angeles, CA
CASSIUS: Who was Laurence Basse before Project Runway?
Lawrence Basse: Before Project Runway, I was a designer 70% of the time and bartended the remaining 30%. I was also an ex-model and a very busy mom.
C: Before taking the fashion world by storm, who taught you the basics of how to sew?
LB: I come from a big family— there were 11 of us and we didn’t grow up with money. I had to figure out my hustle. I was an artist that would sell my drawings and then I started drawing on my pants and sold those, too. Some people hustle drugs; I was hustling jeans at 14 in high school.
C: As a designer of color, do you ever feel you must work differently in order to be respected in the fashion industry?
LB: Of course I have to work differently— I have to work harder, it’s not a game. I’m also very focused, I shit and breathe fashion every day, and that’s before I sit down to eat. I don’t look at myself as a “Black” designer, I look at myself as a designer and I want people to judge me for what I do. People are often surprised when they meet me, I have a French name if you will, but when you see me, I’m the Blackest girl on the block! Overall, talent is talent.
C: Who have you been excited to see rock your designs?
LB: Yvonne Orji from HBO’s Insecure wore one of my custom leather jackets for her recent tour with Chris Rock. I also do a lot of things for actor Aldis Hodge and painter Harmonia Rosales. A few NBA players like Dwight Howard have been spotted in my designs as well. Just a few months ago, I was featured on the cover of Latina magazine.
C: How did you get involved with Strutz Miami and what were your initial thoughts on the unique concept for the show?
LB: I met Aguy at an event, and many people come up to you speaking about what they’d like to do but it doesn’t always come to play. Many people talk about an idea and often it doesn’t happen. Aguy was very persistent, that’s how she [attracted me to the idea]. I’ve never done anything like this before.
Designers: Cameron Pierson and Spencer Moore
Label: Over A Trillion Served
Based: Miami/Fort Lauderdale, FL and Tallahassee, FL
C: What’s the meaning behind the name, Over a Trillion Served?
Cameron Pierson: We’re serving by the trillions, meaning, we pretty much sell everything. Technology, sports gear, clothing, you name it. What started out as a college brand, we can only hope to expand as an inclusive brand housing music, art, movies and more. But for now, we’re starting out with mainly clothing to get out there. We’re hoping sponsorships and endorsements will follow.
C: When Aguy reached out about her drive-in fashion show, what were your initial thoughts?
Spencer Moore: Dope. Extremely creative. We didn’t know what to expect, we had never heard of anything like this, something only Aguy could pull off that’s for sure. I’ve seen shows at art galleries and whatnot, but not a drive-in garage. We love it, it brings everyone together.
Designer: Jephri Sivad
Label: Sivad Ade
Based: Brooklyn, NY
C: Tell us about your brand and how it got started.
JS: I started painting on shirts [in college] and it took a hold of me. I learned how to stitch, got a fashion degree and it all snowballed from there. The name “Sivad” means a person, place, or thing at its fullest potential. “Ade” means crown, royalty, chakra, and the gate of consciousness. My brand represents the fullest potential of royalty— it’s for our people.
C: Where do you hope to see your brand in the future?
JS: I’m hoping to see my clothes as a school uniform. I’m looking at private and independent schools, but at the same time I want it to grow into the culture.
Check out the gallery below for a closer look at these designers’ collections. Then take in the entire Strutz Miami experience here.