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Fashion / Style File

Powerful Dallas Fashion Designer Creates Quite the Scene at City Hall

Dramatic Return Confronts Racial Tensions with Bold Looks

BY // 06.14.17

Charles Smith II designs for impact. The fashion designer caused a scene in front of Dallas City Hall as he turned the fountain into a dramatic runway for his latest Smith II collection “Delmar” on Sunday evening.

This was a grand return for the Dallas-raised designer, who moved in January to join the St. Louis Fashion Fund’s incubator program.

“Delmar” is an evolution from Smith II’s past collections. It has the same feeling of tough futuristic romanticism, with a color palate dominated by black and white — save for a few carefully placed slivers of color — tons of texture, and interesting shapes that make you want to get closer.

It’s the look which Smith II has made his signature: powerful, and seemingly simple until it’s not.

Take the men’s white T-shirt, with a piece of fabric delicately draped across the back, almost like a hood. Or a little black dress, which looked simple enough until the model turned to reveal the shiny vinyl back. These looks will make you do a double take, but Charles Smith II designs conversation-starting clothing in a bigger sense.

His last collection for S2, “Do Not Touch,” tackled issues of racism, sexism, and respect, catching the attention of Dallas. Then it got national attention when the designer claimed that Forever 21 stole one of his designs.

However, Smith II has come back with an even stronger message in Delmar. As the program explains, the collection was “inspired by the concept of division of humanity, beliefs, race, social status and geography.”

Set against sunset at City Hall, with Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit” playing in the background, the presentation plainly confronted racial tensions which Smith II says he still encounters regularly.

“The story takes you through a dark era in our history and then opens a light of the hope we live on from day to day just to make it,” Smith II said in a release.

Smith is working to make that light shine a little brighter: after setting up a scholarship fund with DISD for his last few collections, he is donating 5 percent of the ticket sales from the Delmar presentation to St. Louis Public Schools.

Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the last looks of the collection were glowing with optimism and expression. Especially the final look, a dusty-pink suit with an unfussy bow on the back and black ties around the calves — business chic for future.

The Smith II “Delmar” presentation was sponsored by Nancy Rogers. Models came courtesy of the Dragonfly Agency. Hair and makeup were provided by Linc Pro.

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