Few have a resume that runs the gamut quite like Steven La Guardia’s. He kicked things off as buyer and creative director at famed boutique Louis Boston before making the move to NYC, where he has been in-house at high-end brands, like Valentino and Bally, and mass, like Bonobos. Now, he joins DSquared2’s New York headquarters as vice president of US retail. It seems there’s nothing this fearless fashion fanatic can’t do!
So Steven, why fashion?
I grew up in the 80s, and adopted every horrible Eighties style—New wave, punk, goth, stoner. I loved the clothes!
Your first gig was at Louis Boston (RIP) in the mid-90s. What did you do in your time there?
While I was there, we published a bi-annual magazine, LOUIE. As the stylist for all the photo shoots, I would order every sample from Dries Van Noten, Prada, Gucci, etc. that we bought for the store, cram them into a suitcase, and jump on the plane to London, Capri, Costa Rica, Miami. This was long before cellphones and the internet—Louis’ owners would just wish me well and off I would go for two weeks, shooting away. And the designers always let me keep all the clothes—it was amazing!
Definitely! So why did you make the move to New York?
I was determined to move to New York before I was 30, and Helmut Lang had just moved the company there. They called, I came.
And then you moved on to Valentino. What was it like working with Mr. Valentino?
Working for Valentino was the opposite of working for Helmut—I loved the challenge. Mr. Valentino is the kindest, most charming man in fashion. From him I learned the importance of every detail, and how to spend every penny of my flower budget.
In what ways did you leave your mark at the brand?
My first day at Valentino, I thought, “What the hell have I done,” as the brand was still rather dusty at the time. I wouldn’t even tell people where I worked. By the time I left, I was so proud to be a part of the brand revitalization, without ever interfering with Mr. Valentino’s vision.
Then you moved on to Theory, Bally, and Bonobos. From working at more mainstream brands after high-end, what was the takeaway?
My general takeaway is that mass market brands talk about product in terms of units, and high-end brands speak about pieces. I prefer talking about pieces….
Why did you choose to branch out on your own and launch your consulting agency SLG?
The recession and a mid-life crisis. I needed to explore my creativity
What made you go back in-house at a brand?
When you work as a freelancer, clients don’t always feel the need to pay for services rendered. I got tired of chasing my money. DSquared2 seemed like the perfect balance of refinement and fun, which mirrors my personality. Plus, I look pretty awesome in the suits.
What is your plan of action in the new gig?
To build on the excitement and passion of the retail team. Having worked for e-commerce companies for the past few years, I realized how much better and easier it is to sell product face-to-face in brick and mortar stores. Buying books on Amazon is very different from buying exciting fashion from experienced sales consultants in a beautiful environment. Customers still want this.
What is your work mantra?
Don’t do things that make the opposite of sense.
What are you doing for the holidays?
Allegedly going skiing with friends, but might be more just watching…and drinking…