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Color: All colors
Food: All foods
Quote: Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Season: Fall
Birthplace
Oakland, California
Interview Description:

Biography |

Interview Date: 11/8/2016

Fashion designer Byron Lars was born on January 19, 1965 in Oakland, California. Lars grew up in nearby El Cerrito, California, where his mother encouraged him to be creative, and his father, who worked in construction, nurtured his son’s interest in craftsmanship. Lars attended El Cerrito High School, taking advanced math classes in preparation for a career in architecture. In the tenth grade, a friend taught Lars to use a sewing machine, leading him to teach himself pattern-making. He designed classmates’ prom dresses in order to fund a school trip to Europe, and created a gown for his own senior prom date.

Upon graduation from high school, Lars enrolled at Brooks Fashion Institute of Technology in Long Beach, California, earning first place at the student design fashion show. In 1986, he transferred to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Between 1987 and 1991, Lars used his skill in patternmaking to obtain freelance work for Kevan Hall, Gary Gatyas, and Nancy Crystal Blouse Co., among others. He developed his first sample set of seven garments, which he pitched to high end retail buyers in the hopes of receiving orders for his own line.

In 1990, upscale women’s specialty store Henri Bendel placed an order for forty pieces of Lars’ designs, to be displayed at their flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The following year, in only his second season, Lars had orders from Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and other high end retailers. His collection won widespread acclaim, and Lars was named Women’s Wear Daily’s Rookie of the Year. Faced with a rapidly growing business, Lars signed a licensing contract for his Shirt Tales line in 1995, but this ended up in court in 1997. Left in difficult financial circumstances, Lars entered into a contract with Mattel to design collectible Barbie dolls before starting Green T, a line designed to be more affordable, in 1999.

Today, Lars is still known for his appropriations from menswear, especially men’s dress shirting; pattern mixing; his sensitivity to fit and cut; and his use of draping and sarong-inspired tying. His line, Byron Lars Beauty Mark, which launched in 2001, expanded to include plus sizing. Celebrities like Angela Bassett and First Lady Michelle Obama have worn Byron Lars Beauty Mark pieces.

Byron Lars was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 6, 2016.

Speaker Bureau Notes: