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LL COOL J DEBUTS TODD SMITH COLLECTION

 

Fans of LL Cool J hoping to glimpse of him at New York's Fashion Week instead witnessed the debut of Todd Smith, designer.

 

Smith, 38, who has found success for more than two decades by staying relevant in the ever fickle hip-hop scene as LL Cool J, became the latest emcee to throw his hat into the fashion arena.

 

In years leading up to this, Smith has dabbled in fashion, having worked behind the scenes for Troop in the mid-eighties and then Fubu in the nineties. His signature collection, however, is definitively not typical of those labeled as ‘urban.’ The Italian-made clothing is driven from classic tailoring, but is fluid and sophisticated. No rack suits or baggy jeans here.

 

The men’s collection, overseen by Jeremy Brandrick of Dolce & Gabbana, includes a fur lined gray cashmere overcoat with a pink Prince of Wales check shirt and gray windowpane trousers. Another look incorporated a blue country-check hunting jacket, paired with an eggplant cashmere turtleneck and beige corduroy trousers.  Aside from a metallic shirt and black-and-gold club tie combination, the collection was muted and refined.

 

Other highlights include a chocolate velvet dinner jacket, a slim-cut natural crocodile jacket, calfskin gloves and a double-breasted navy pinstripe suit.

 

For the smaller women’s collection, Smith tapped Matthew Priestly, formerly of Marni, as head designer.

 

Those ensembles harked back to a look that alluded to 1940s glamour: A cream silk column evening dress (think Martin Scorcese’s film, “The Aviator”), pencil pants and rope belts, and a gold crepe Lurex cocktail dress.

 

Smith revealed to reporters that he envisioned his collections developing into a luxury brand, like Zegna, the Italian couture line for men, or Chloé, for women.

 

"This brand is not about the rapper LL Cool J," he said after a preview at the Carlton Hotel here Thursday. "This is about Todd Smith, the guy you don't get to see and the lifestyle I live when I go home to Long Island."

 

Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman are among the stores that have shown interest in the 35-piece women's fall collection, which will be priced to compete with Chloé.

 



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