On a Sunday afternoon in sunny Los Angeles, Latoia Fitzgerald debuted her first runway show in a romantic garden courtyard at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre for her brand, Lionne. This was the scene to be seen in. The celebrity guests showed out in their Sunday best to watch Fitzgerald’s imagination come to life for the first time.
The Philly native created Lionne, French for lioness, in 2018 and now the global lifestyle brand is based in downtown L.A., but Fitzgerald says it keeps in touch with its Philly roots. Lionne is built on a mirrored philosophy of the lioness' representation; the ultimate female empowerment. Strong, ambitious, exceptional - she sought to create a brand that reflects a sophisticated yet daring spirit that constantly reconsiders the boundaries of what is expected, inspiring women globally to take risks, and lead with purpose.
Instead of waking just a couple more weeks to debut her collection in New York City for NYFW, she was clear that she wanted to do things her way and she decided to showcase it in L.A. “I had a few people try to convince me to show at New York Fashion Week, but my team is here and it feels good,” the designer told WWD. As a member of the CFDA, she kept her business afloat during the pandemic by selling tube dresses that became instant hits online. “I felt in this moment ready with where I am with my brand, certain people wearing it and getting it in certain publications.”
As an ode to her heritage, and to strong black women, the Fall/Winter 2021 collection is inspired by the rich creative legacy of black and brown people, who have shown so much resilience in the face of strained economic circumstances, oppression, and brutality. Fitzgerald created her own lane within the fashion industry and succeeded.
Broad-shouldered blazer minidresses, a corseted dark denim dress, a sand-colored blazer cropped top with an open back, paired with creased trousers, and boxy leather jackets with zip-away panels have become known as Lionne staples. Any L.A. or Philly girl would die to wear a Lionne piece for a girls night out or even just to the grocery store (why not am I right?).
"I wanted to stick to the DNA of the brand," said Fitzgerald. "We're known for doing a good blazer dress, a high slit or back moment, something sexy but still tailored. We wanted to be very clear on what it is we sell." And she did just that on the runway.
Lionne created a collection that was structured and tailored, yet feminine and alluring. A deconstructed skirt suit with elements of a white button up creating the Lionne version of the black suit. Military influences are seen throughout the collection in the form of cargo pants, jackets and shirts. Denim plays a huge role in the collection as well, used in jackets, dresses, shirts, and skirts. Open back, strap, shoulder and hip reveal details added a sex factor to the show, which resonates with the scene in L.A. but it's like nothing else in the market right now. These pieces are just the right amount of sexy matched with a level of sophistication that is hard to come by when you want to show off some leg.
“This collection is a celebration of resilience. The resilience that we’ve had to maintain during this difficult time. The resilience of Lionne, which has evolved into more than I ever could have imagined. The resilience of my friends and family for being with me every step of the way. But what I’m most proud of is the resilience of my people. My people inspired this collection,” said Fitzgerald.
Wearing the clothes were some notable models, such as Slick Woods who was a surprise to her by her beau basketball player Rajon Rondo, who presumably helped secure the booking and Duckie Thot who closed the show in a stunning white satin slip dress.
Fitzgerald’s commitment to sustainability plays an important role in the production process and the fabrics considered. Limited quantities are produced to avoid excess inventory. The collection is priced from $200 to $1,500 and is immediately available to purchase on Lionneclothing.com.
This collection embodies what is thrilling about fashion, a strong independent designer who did it her way and stayed true to her vision. Fitzgerald, I tip my hat to you.