In 2016, Lauren Rodriguez debuted her womenswear line, LOROD, which is focused on utilitarian, modern clothing with a refined edge. Artistic influences like Robert Rauschenberg remain a constant for the young designer, given her background in painting and sculpture. She believes in art and design informing one another, but she also hasn’t shied away from finding inspiration in the personal.
Whitewall caught up with Rodriguez to learn more about her emphasis on functional garments, her commitment to manufacturing in the U.S., and her excitement about the growing commitment to sustainability set out by her peers in fashion.
WHITEWALL: You went to Parsons for painting and sculpture. Tell us about your early art influences.
LAUREN RODRIGUEZ: At Parsons I looked a lot at Eva Hesse’s Post-Minimal works and Ana Mendieta’s sculptures and performances. I was making sculptures that combined soft materials, such as latex and silicone, with hard metals, so naturally I was drawn to the way Hesse and Mendieta experimented with materials.
WW: How did you move from fine art to fashion?
LR: Although I studied painting and sculpture in college, I was always interested in fashion design and always intended on connecting my arts education to design in one way or another. I wanted to start a company that could be an intersection for creative practices.
WW: LOROD is all about utility and function with refinement. What attracts you to making garments with purpose?
LR: By placing an emphasis on function, you’re able to create timeless items with purpose that you can hand down for generations. I have always felt there was something compelling about the ease and pragmatism that a uniform provides and wanted to highlight those same functions commonly found in many American classics and workwear.
WW: Can you tell us about how Robert Rauschenberg inspired your Pre-Fall 2019 collection?
LR: I created a sports-themed print for our PF19 collection inspired by Rauschenberg’s assemblage that is comprised of female athletes I admire. As I started looking more deeply into Rauschenberg’s work, I remembered a piece he had done called Open Score that includes artists such as Frank Stella and Simone Forti—playing tennis at the Armory. As the players rally back and forth, a harrowing sound created by mechanisms on the rackets fills the Armory and the lights turn off one by one. I decided to reinterpret this performance as both an homage to Bob’s work and as a way to show the clothes in motion.
WW: What’s an exhibition you’ve seen recently you’re still thinking about?
LR: I just saw “Soul of a Nation” at the Broad. It has really stuck with me. Seeing works from artists like Betye Saar, Barkley Hendricks, and David Hammons all in one room was unbelievable. The show was incredibly well curated.
WW: We also loved the personal inspiration behind your Resort 2019 collection, looking at your father’s family history. What did you want to convey in that collection and show?
LR: I looked at many family photos of my aunts’ and uncle’s Chicano style in the late seventies. The Latina community is an incredibly underrepresented world, particularly in fashion. It was important to me that not only the clothes, but the show environment we created, had a sense of ease and inclusivity. The goal was to replicate my experiences in my aunt’s backyard, surrounded by family, food, and laundry hanging out to dry.
WW: How does art continue to influence your role as designer?
LR: I think it’s imperative that art and design inform one another. I look to artists each season to find inspiration for the collection whether it be color palette, structure, or subject. A lot of the time I think the intersection is subconscious, but we try and bring in artist collaborations in as many forms as possible.
WW: As a younger brand, what is your perspective on where fashion is headed next?
LR: I’m excited about all the young brands that are popping up and the progressiveness they strive for across sustainability and inclusiveness. With all the awful things happening in the world, I feel hopeful that there are so many young designers that are dedicating themselves to diversity and ways in which we can be more environmentally responsible and aware.