Building Blocks

With two collections to oversee (the L.A.-based Development and an eponymous dress collection) it's slightly ironic that Erica Davies never even wanted to become a fashion designer. Though she studied at the storied Central St. Martins School in London, she admits it was architecture that seemed to initially speak her language.
"[It] remains my main reference point for design," she says from her studio in Los Angeles. "The process always starts from creating the silhouettes taken from the juxtaposition of angles in architecture, and then it's softened with my color palette of odd, delicate tones." Davies was accepted at St. Martins after studying architecture and fine art, and to this day continues to hold onto her love of buildings and structure, though now it's translated in the form of clothing.
After school and before taking the head design spot at Development, Davies put in time at a number of reputable houses, including Marc Jacobs, MaxMara, BCBG Max Azria, and L.A. designer Richard Tyler. But, it was with Development, and now the Erica Davies collection (which is licensed by Development), that she seems to have emerged a visionary in her own right. Her new eponymous dress collection is like a hit list of personal reference points, resplendent in nods to all her favorite architects. For spring, her main inspiration was the high-tech futurist architecture of Toyo Ito, specifically his Meiso no Mori funeral hall in Japan. Ito's inspirations were the soft undulations of freshly fallen snow, weight and lightness, and traditional structure merged with unexpected fluidity. "This mix," Erica says, "is the main element that identifies my style."
Erica Davies' spring/summer 2007 collection
The spring collection consists of about 30 dresses built on this theme of light and weight, with a clear Japanese undercurrent. A raspberry leaf-print chiffon dress flows and floats, but it is held down by a deep square neckline, architectural pin-tucked chiffon, and metallic piping, which functions like a shot of sunlight. Other dresses lean toward the Art Deco in their precise swaths of black, gray, and pink, with the occasional pop of turquoise and teal reminding us of the buds of spring, about to burst forth any day now.
Fall 2007 is a continuation of Davies's study of architecture in fashion, though Frank Gehry's creations are the jumping-off point. The silhouettes, though always feminine, are harder-edged than spring, and trims of bullet-colored studs are more fatale than femme. If it's possible for chiffon to be substantial and gunmetal gray to be delicate, then Erica Davies, through her obsessions with light and architecture, prettiness and heaviness, could build her own empire, one soaring dress at a time.
Erica Davies' fall/winter 2007 collection
For information and availability for both Development and the Erica Davies Collection, go to
West Coast designer Erica Davies hatches a blueprint for sweetness and light.

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