Colin LoCascio Designs for the Coolest Girl in the Room

Colin LoCascio Designs for the Coolest Girl in the Room

by Dylan Kelly

Colin LoCascio has long served as a key player in fashion, having lended his creative expertise to several of fashion's favorite brands including Marc Jacobs, Adam Selman, Elizabeth and James, and Vivienne Hu before moving onto the newly rebranded Kendall + Kylie, where he currently sits as design director. But today, the seasoned designer is employing his artistic touch on a more personal project: his first-ever, Fran Drescher-inspired ready-to-wear collection under his eponymous label.

LoCascio's brand initially landed on the scene with exclusive, made-to-order pieces for a slew of high-profile clients: A mustard-hued fur coat for Bella Hadid, a top made entirely from safety pins for Slick Woods, and an eclectic multichromatic overcoat for Cardi B, to name a few. Now, he intends to build upon the colorful textures prominent in his previous made-to-order iterations with his Fall 2020 release — a collection intentionally crafted to satisfy the It-girl aesthetic.

"[The Colin LoCascio woman] is a cool girl," he says of his brand's archetype. "She's someone who loves prints and color and funky textures. She's definitely someone who prides herself on being the coolest girl in the room. I think she's someone who has a great sense of humor and ultimately really loves fashion and uses it as a vehicle to tell her story."

For his debut launch, LoCascio looked inward, digging through old journal entries and memories from his youth for sartorial inspiration. As a result, the collection exists as a coming-of-age narrative, calling on relevant iconography from his past for visual reference and specifically paying homage to Lizzie McGuire, Hot Wheels, Playstation and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

Born and raised in Queens, New York, LoCascio naturally gravitates towards the playful style of Fran Drescher — his all-time favorite actress known for her breakout role on the New York-based television series The Nanny — and largely attributes his design aesthetic to her wardrobe on the show. Elsewhere, LoCascio's metaphysical thoughts weave themselves into design inclusions, speaking to his path of self-discovery, while the fabrics boast a patchwork of varying texture treatments through mediums of hand crochet, intarsia, jacquard, faux fur, leather, silk and embroidery.

PAPER spoke with the burgeoning designer about his rise in the fashion world, the details of his design process, and the intricacies of his Fall 2020 collection. Read what Colin LoCascio had to share, below.

How did you first spark an interest in fashion design?

I didn't really have an interest in fashion until I was a freshman in college. During my freshman year at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) we had to make a wearable object out of paper, and it really intrigued and interested me in the idea of engineering clothes to fit the body. I think I had never really thought about clothing as architecture for the body and it really interested me. Prior to college, throughout all of my academic career I always wore a uniform, so I think in college I really started to notice the importance of fashion as a means of self-expression, and how what you wore really impacted people's perception of you. From then I was super intrigued and knew I had to be a part of it.

From the first mood boards to the final collection, what does your design process look like?

The majority of my initial process is my development of prints/artworks. I collaborate with one illustrator/artist that I admire each season for one print and the rest of the prints/jacquards/embroideries are all hand-drawn/developed by me, so I typically work on these first and these artworks typically inspire the vibe of the collection. It's more about responding to that. Designing the bodies are mostly thinking about what silhouette will serve the artwork/print the best. I love to look at vintage clothes and to learn from the designers who designed them — even something as small as a pocket construction or the way they finished the lining of a skirt. I also have this woman in my mind and I think, Would she wear this? Would she feel cool in it?

Congratulations on your first ready-to-wear collection under your namesake label. Where did you draw inspiration from when designing the range?

I've always had particular tastes when it came to materials and fabrics. There were always colors and textures I was drawn to, and so I think that the point of view has been pretty consistent since I started designing. That point of view/aesthetic is what led me to do customs for some of my idols. I think that all of the celebrities I've dressed have inspired me for sure. The RTW offering certainly has moments of Cardi in it, it has elements of Bella in it. They have been part of the brand DNA from the early days and have certainly helped shape my voice.

In terms of fabric, are there any overarching themes with this collection?

For Fall 2020, I was super interested in pulling iconography and visual vocabulary from when I was younger and thinking about how those interests/imagery formulated my aesthetic and my taste. A lot of my references came from Lizzie McGuire, Hot Wheels and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. These memories inspired the prints/color for the season. I launched with quite a few fabric platforms — printed mesh/faux fur/leather/knitwear/printed silks. All of these fabric platforms will be part of the upcoming seasons and are the categories I love to design into. I think there is always a story to tell and I think a lot of these fabrications allow for a lot of room to bring the Colin LoCascio vision to life.

You've been in the game for quite some time now. What have you learned as you've navigated the fashion world as a designer?

I'd say persistence and always trusting my gut. I also think I've always tried to be a sponge in situations, whether it was when I was working on a design team or sitting in on a sales meeting — whatever it is. There are always experiences and people I can learn from. I've learned the most from co-workers even back when I was an intern and now when I'm a design director. Everyone has a different perspective or experience that I can always learn a lot from.

Now that you're welcoming a ready-to-wear line through your own label, how do you hope to explore new opportunities and expand your personal brand?

I'm super excited. It's been a long time coming and the timing feels right. It's an exciting time in fashion for young brands because so many of the formal rules/schedules/norms are being challenged, and it's awesome that brands and designers can now take ownership of how and when they want to sell their clothes. The one-size-fits-all fashion calendar is clearly not working, and it's an amazing time to be a younger brand to have the power to define and ultimately play by your own rules.

For me, inclusion is the most important and, eventually, I'd love to launch into extended sizes. There is a large population of women who can't find clothes that speak to them or add to their point of view. I'd love for Colin LoCascio to add to the stories of their life. I'd love to be a designer that can go up to 5X and even beyond.

Looking ahead, what stamp do you ultimately hope to make on the world through your designs?

Acceptance and ultimately self-care and self-love. Acceptance for all points of view/backgrounds/sizes. While the brand has a very strong point of view, our customers themselves are all very different. For example, the customers all have different stories and perspectives yet they have similar tastes in clothing and I think that fashion and style can be a means of connection for people who maybe would never see eye-to-eye.

The best example of this is I've had both Lil Yachty and Paris Hilton wear my clothes. They both are very different people with different backgrounds yet they are wearing the same brand and I think it's awesome. As I continue to grow as a designer and a brand, I'd love to think of ways to constantly extend the reach and keep building a more diverse customer and play my part of building a more accepting industry.

Photos courtesy of Colin LoCascio