A woman wearing a pink, beaded head ornament peeked out from behind a curtain at the front of a small, intimate room on the third floor of Blue Sushi Sake Grill in Omaha. The woman, adorned in a black, floor-length dress and long, pink gloves, is one model in the group of six that night that wore Le’Mario Somerville’s latest fashion collection.
Somerville is an 18-year-old designer based out of Omaha. He has shown designs in both this year and last year’s Omaha Fashion Week fall shows. He presented his most recent collection, seen at this year’s Omaha Fashion Week event, during the Omaha Fashion Guild on Sept. 15. The event, hosted by the Fashion Arts Collective, raised funds and awareness to support Nebraska’s regional fashion designers.
At the meeting, Somerville explained his creative concept and that he gets the majority of his inspiration for his designs from nature.
“When I was growing up, one of my interests was watching Animal Planet, specifically the episodes about butterflies,” Somerville said. “Butterflies go through a metamorphosis, and I think that’s just a really good metaphor for my collection. You can invent yourself and become the person you want to be through my designs.”
Somerville’s passion for fashion started when he used to watch “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” with his sisters and saw all the celebrities’ outfits and their interactions with famous designers.
“We would watch ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ together, and there was this designer, Olivier Rousteing, who is the creative director for Balmain,” Somerville said. “I loved his designs and wanted to create something just like them one day. Then, I started sewing freshman year of high school, and I haven’t stopped since.”
Somerville especially remembers the first garment he ever designed for his niece’s first birthday.
“It’s probably my favorite garment I ever made,” Somerville said. “However, one thing I will say is I’ll never make kid’s clothes again. Every time I took her measurements, she would move all around. It was worth it in the end, though; she was so excited to wear it, and she looked like a princess.”
While Somerville is well-known for designing, he does all the marketing and photography for his collections and models his own clothes.
Tasloach Wol, also known as Taz, was a model at the most recent Omaha Fashion Week and a guest at the Fashion Guild meeting. While he didn’t wear any of Somerville’s designs, he still admired them from a distance.
“Le’Mario is only eighteen, and he’s already accomplished so much,” Wol said. “He not only designs clothes, but he also models them and is just an all-over cool guy.”
Currently, Somerville is taking a gap year from school, but he’s far from done with his fashion career. He wants to attend University of the Arts London – Central Saint Martins or Polimoda, a fashion school in Florence, Italy.
“I really just want to get out of the United States and explore fashion in different countries,” Somerville said. “Then, after I finish studying in school, I want to find a job as a creative director for a large fashion house and then for my own label.”
According to Somerville, fashion is reaching new bounds, and he wants to be a part of the revolution for better fashion.
“Currently, I think we are in a fashion renaissance. People are focusing on sustainability and inclusion, and there are plus size models on the runways, which is something no one thought would happen a couple years ago,” Somerville said. “Fashion is becoming better, and I want to be a part of the better industry.”