Model-cum-clothing and -jewelry designer Erin Wasson braved a typically cold and foggy San Francisco July on Thursday to show off her Low Luv jewelry line. Azalea, the Hayes Valley boutique that seems to be making San Francisco a fashion destination, feted Wasson's chunky bracelets, amulet necklaces, and shark-tooth earrings with Pisco sours and beats by DJ Ma Yeah. We sat down with Wasson to ask her about Low Luv, feminism in fashion, and why her RVCA collaboration ended.
What were your design inspirations for Low Luv?
"I'm obsessed with symbolism so there's a lot of Swedish symbolism, a lot of Egyptian symbolism. A symbol that has been profound and around for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years is exciting to me. The jewelry is not meant to look new. The ideas is for it to look like you went to a flea market or junk shop—like a treasure chest of oddities."
Where did the name come from?
"Anybody who's going to scream "I love you!" at the top of their lungs, I'm leery about. I want to be whispered I love you to. It's love on the down-low. Jewelry exchanged as heirlooms in families is an exchange of love. And it's less disposable than clothing."
Many models are happy to walk down the runway, collect a paycheck, and call it a day. What made you want to get into designing?
"When you have a creative fire inside of you you can't explain it. Ever since I was a kid I had a really over-spastic imagination. I was always interested in writing and art and music— anything that allowed me to channel that creative force. I was in the fashion business, living in this huge tribe of fashion people with all these idiosyncrasies and all the creative juju that came with it. And it was always hard for me to just be an image. So when I had the opportunity to work with Alex [Wang] it was like being given a new set of eyes, and I just got insanely excited about that mad hatter element of the creative process."
What's your go-to outfit?
"Jeans and a t-shirt. Seriously, I always tell people to buy a $5 pack of Hanes V-neck t-shirts, throw on their favorite jeans, and pile on jewelry that can tell your story. Jewelry can bring a heightened sense of style to an outfit more than some tragically hip top or a super-trendy pair of pants."
"I like shitkickers!"
Who's your style icon?
"I don't have one. I'm inspired by every woman walking down the street."
What's your response to people who say that loving fashion is anti-feminist?
"Here's the thing about the fashion business: Most of it is run by gay men who will never be able to completely understand a woman...I think there is a lack of a true connection with what a woman really is. Of course, there will always be designers like Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenburg. But people have asked me if I've ever felt objectified in photo shoots and campaigns and I always say: I'm going to do what I feel comfortable with. If is was ever a point where I don't feel comfortable, then I'm not going to do it.
"Sex sells. We're all sexual beings, we all like to have sex, we all like to talk about sex. We all like watching sexual energy and chemistry ignite in front of us. It's exciting, it's human nature. So to use an element of sex in fashion to get people excited and to pay attention is human nature. Americans are so prude. It really bothers me.
"But at the end of the day, nobody really cares about a male model, I mean, lets be real. Nobody gets excited about the next "It" guy. Here's a business where if you look at a male model and a female model, guess what? We make more money. And that's fucking empowering."
What happened with RVCA?
"It was always supposed to end at this time. It was an awesome opportunity. I had two amazing, empowering years. I learned so much and they allowed me such a massive amount of creative input and energy. Now it's time to take all that knowledge and really stand on my own two feet and go out and do something for myself."
Will you design clothing after the jewelry?
"That's the plan."
Click through for more images from the Azalea party!