Ra’mon-Lawrence A. Coleman
Hometown: Chicago, Il. (born and raised on the South Side)
Alum of the distinguished School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Ra’mon-Lawrence A. Coleman received concurrent Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Fashion Design and Performing Arts. Previous to this he attended the University of Iowa, where he studied Biology and Art History. The native Chicagoan has held an array of design positions in Denmark, London, Milan, New York, Chicago, and most recently Minneapolis, where he has begun fervently establishing the ra’mon-lawrence label.
"Growing up I was always an artistic child. However, looking back, I never had aspirations for a career in fashion. I wanted to be a Neurosurgeon. I loved science; I still do. One day, I found myself saying, ‘I could be a great surgeon, but I don’t think I could be a passionate surgeon.’ When I began studying performing arts, I was introduced to costume design, which ultimately lead me to pursue fashion design. I have merged all these backgrounds to create a constant commentary on the human form. I view myself as a perpetual student. I’m a whirlwind of high energy, and my design esthetic reflects that. There is always an element of the dramatic; it ranges from just under the radar to over the top."
—What does the label stand for? What is your design philosophy?
"The ra’mon-lawrence label is about sophisticated innovation and versatility. Each garment is created with meticulous intentions, but with an effortless feeling. Details are an essential element to each design. Whether it’s ornate beading on an evening shift dress or hand finishing on a sheer tee, the importance on handwork can be seen on every garment. I don’t think about just what a woman needs, I also address what she craves. My work philosophy is simple; without continually pursuing knowledge, and immersing oneself in new experiences, I feel that a person becomes stagnant. This is the mantra of the woman I design for. Fashion should never be taken seriously. True fashion blurs all lines. It serves as a commentary to society, whether through absurdity or conformity.
"This collection for me isn’t just about putting on an event, but establishing the beginning stages of brand exclusivity."
—What influenced your current collection? Who are your favorite designers?
"The concept of The Eluded Love collection is inspired by the paintings of Johannes Vermeer from the Dutch Golden Age, the modern photographs of the Dutch photojournalist, Erwin Olaf, and the narrative of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. Both Vermeer and Olaf have a mastery of depicting domestic interior scenes of what would be considered ‘ordinary bourgeois life.’ Their usage of color and light as a direct reflection of emotion serves as the focal point for my color palette as well as fabrication. Both Olaf’s photographs and Kafka’s novella push the boundaries of perception, by blurring reality into fantasy. I translated all of these into what I see as a ‘surreal bourgeois life.’
"Through the use of multi-textural fabrics and architectural silhouettes I am exploring the idea of volume versus tailoring, art versus fashion, absurd versus ordinary. The notion of extreme proportions as well as unexpected ‘convertible elements’ drives the essence of each silhouette. Eluded Love is an organic reaction to the ideals of romanticism that stimulates one’s imagination. Open your mind and enjoy.
"’The imagination is the spur of delights… all depends upon it, it is the mainspring of everything; now, is it not by means of the imagination one knows joy? Is it not of the imagination that the sharpest pleasures arise?’ —Marquis de Sade
"Some of my favorite designers are Alexander McQueen, Raf Simmons (Jil Sander), Muccia Prada (Prada), Olivier Theyskens (Rochas), Heidi Slimane (Dior Homme), Chris Benz, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough (Proenza Schouler), Karl Lagerfeld (everything he touches), Marc Jacobs (everything he breaths on), & Rachel Roy."
—You’ve done Voltage: Fashion Amplified before, and also have been a part of other fashion weekend exhibitions — how different is producing your own show, compared to working in a group format?
"It’s very different for me. While the concept is purely based on my own direction, I am still working in a group format. I have a production staff that I have made integral to every aspect of the show. I wanted to give the opportunity to several talented individuals in the local industry that have not stepped into the lime light yet. They have been a great inspiration to me. There is this freshness to the production that I am confident everyone will enjoy. The thing that is so exciting for me in the format is there is more freedom to be spontaneous. I like to work organically, and constantly evolve the way I am approaching a collection (even up until the last moment).
"Sometimes, that doesn’t work if you showing as a collective group of designers, because it can effect the overall flow. After such an amazing response from my showing at last year’s Voltage, I knew it was time for me to take my aspirations to the next level."
—What was the process of creating a show of this scale?
"After establishing my concept, it was my mission to find a core group to become my production staff. I knew I had high ambitions for this event, so I need to make sure I had a strong support system to make it happen. After that it was a whirlwind of things: finding the right venue, establishing sponsorships, venue concept, PR/Marketing, casting, soundtrack, among other things."
—What is the tie between your show and the American Diabetes Association?
"Several of my family members are diabetic. It was something that I was always aware of growing up, but really didn’t understand. Both my
parents had diabetes. A few years ago, my Dad passed away from complications related to diabetes. That was an eye opener for me. Since then I have been actively contributing the American Diabetes Association. While this event has benefits for the brand’s exposure, what is even more important is the contribution we will be able to make to the association as well as the education we can pass on to others.
- Total: 20.8 million children and adults — 7.0% of the population — have diabetes.
- Diagnosed: 14.6 million people
- Undiagnosed: 6.2 million people
- Pre-diabetes: 54 million people
- 1.5 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years or older in 2005
"Just imagine how much of this could either be preventive or treatable with the right amount of education or funding."