Face Time: Byron Lars

September 6, 2013
byron

In an era of place-mat-size miniskirts and skinny jeans that only suit waifs, designer Byron Lars focuses on dresses and jackets with curvy, feminine appeal. No wonder first lady Michelle Obama often rocks his Beauty Mark by Byron Lars day-to-cocktail frocks and sportswear. The industry vet also creates capsule collections for Anthropologie. Locally, Beauty Mark is sold at Proper Topper (1350 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-842-3055), where Express and Fashion Washington will co-host a trunk show Friday through Monday, with 10 percent off in-stock merchandise and a chance to special-order items.

Your styles have darts, tucks and boning to shape a woman’s figure. Why is this important?
I try to make clothes that make you feel better. And I include structuring because it helps a girl keep in full control of her assets. I try to give women’s bodies a clue of what they’re supposed to be doing. Sometimes the body needs a little bit of instruction, like boobs are supposed to be here and here.

What’s your line like for fall?
I was interested in mixing in tough elements — sequins that look like python scales, pieces in good pleather. It drapes well and feels feminine but powerful.

You also do a line with Anthropologie. How is it different from your main line?
The Anthro styles skew a little more eccentric. And it’s nice that the store can include a pretty comprehensive range of pieces — jackets, coats, etc.

How does it feel when first lady Michelle Obama wears your clothes?
It’s thrilling — especially since she has such a strong personal style. I like that when we send Michelle Obama things, she adds her own touch — like a new belt or pin. She doesn’t take it just spoon-fed.

What would you like to design that you haven’t?
Extended sizes! Right now my line goes up to size 12, but I’d love to do women from 14 to 20. Many brands who serve these women just dial it in.

You designed a glam line of Barbies from 1997 to 2011. What was that like?
With Barbie, you tap into a fantasy — she’s more fabulous than any real person. She’s like Prince; you don’t need too many of her rocking around!

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Vicky Hallett · September 6, 2013