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VSG (very stylish girl)
by kimberly suggs


Edward Wilkerson -- gracious (with style) to all who walk across his showroom doors.

Early one Sunday evening I cancelled a six month old dinner reservation to one of the hottest restaurants in the city in exchange for a seat at the “Invitation only” showing of the Fall 2005 and Resort 2006 collections of Lafayette 148 New York. Since Mr. Edward Wilkerson is the Chief Designer, Creative Director and in-house style maven, I’ll just make another reservation...

Edward Wilkerson
(Edward Wilkerson)

I slipped on my black silk, bias cut, tank dress -- Manolo’s strappy, mules -- grabbed my Chanel bag and I was off to make the curtain call. The winds of Fashion Week in New York were blowing a little early and there was no traffic going downtown. This combination worked perfectly for an evening show anywhere near the Great White Way -- I do love a good show...

As I entered the showroom that night (a familiar space that I have been in many times), it felt different, electric. Surrounded by rich cultural touches that reflect Edward's global, Zen aesthetic -- a mix of the exotic and lavish, yet warm and welcoming -- you know that you are getting just a peak of the treasures tucked deep within that fill his spirit and his many homes. Like the male peacock in full bloom and the paintings of one of his inspirations, Frida Kahlo, the collection would be filled to the brim with colors and silhouettes that reflected courage and honesty to self, and a one-world hope.

This was not the first time I had met Edward. It has been my pleasure of knowing him personally since high school. Edward decided at the age of 10 that he wanted to be a fashion designer and/or an architect while I was still playing with my Barbie doll and her country camper. He envisioned his future success while also creating a foundation by surrounding himself with fabrics and colors. He slept dreaming of designing couture for the world’s most stylish women.

I attended my very first disco, Gotham, with Edward and both of our mothers after one of his fashion shows at the high school of Art and Design in Manhattan. Even then I knew that he had “it” and was very special.

After graduating from the prestigious Parsons School of Design, making his way to Seventh Avenue was not easy, but for Edward the word “No” didn’t exist. With Willi Smith, Patrick Kelly and Stephen Burrows cracking the door to young Black men in high fashion, Edward Wilkerson leaned in hard on that door and Anne Klein & Co. were on the other side. He worked with Donna Karan and Louis Dell’ Olio for five years preparing for his jump to Calvin Klein where for three years Edward was the sole designer for Calvin’s top-line “Classification” collection. Nothing could have stopped phase three of Edward’s ascension, as he was off to work once again with Donna Karan under her solo banner. There he reigned as Senior Designer for eight years before fast forwarding to his present position at Lafayette 148 New York. Since 1998 he has been Chief Designer and Creative Director there, but he is much more than his titles.

Edward, via his venerable talents, takes on many incarnations -- artist, decorator, world traveler and designer. The Artist is a provocative photographer whose work mesmerizes all that lay eyes upon it. His photographs have graced many galleries and photography books and he is also the eye behind the images used in Lafayette 148’s international advertising campaigns. As the Decorator, his artistry flows into his homes in Brooklyn, East Hampton and New York; each one more chic than the next with all the closets filled with Armani, Yoji Yamamoto and Comme des Garson. As the Traveler his passport has more pages than my manuscript, he is a man of the world. He has touched the shores of India, Asia and the continent of Africa, which is a constant source of inspiration from Morocco and Kenya to Capetown. His designs are known for utilizing luxurious European fabrics and lush leathers and suedes that are hand picked by him.

Lafayette 148 New York has a full collection in plus size clothing that range from 14 thru 24 and embody the same aesthetic as the finely designed contemporary collection. It is also offered in the same upscale specialty stores around the country such as Saks Fifth Ave., Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Mark Shale and Lord & Taylor.

With Wilkerson at the helm, he and Lafayette 148 New York have graced countless magazine covers, which include the fashion bible Women’s Wear Daily. This collection is so well loved by tons of celebrities that the “O”riginal Diva, Ms. Winfrey, has had him on her show and worn his clothes on a number of covers and show dates. Several diva size favorite celebrities have full collections in their closets that were created by him. The fit is true and always great, making you feel special like you are truly wearing designer clothes.

True plus size designer clothes are like a needle in a haystack, but Lafayette 148 New York is a golden needle and not hard to find. The Fall 2005 collection is rich with:

  • Suits for every well dressed professional
  • A collection of flawless bias cut evening gowns primed for any holiday bash
  • Plus, reliable signature pieces -- the wrap shirt, must have boot length skirt and my favorite the portrait neck silk sweater

Edward’s sense of commitment does not end with a closed sketchpad or a lens cover. He also dedicates his time to a variety of charitable events and a cause benefiting AIDS research. He serves on the Board of Directors for Fashion Outreach, a non-profit organization committed to helping minorities in fashion. Last July he was elected to the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of American (CFDA).

He once said, “If you remain true and consistent to your work you can achieve your dreams." Edward Wilkerson has in fact achieved both of his childhood dreams. He has become a master fashion designer who not only dresses stylish women of the world but travels it himself and he is an architect of style. He is a living example of the often overused platitude “Dreams really do come true.” He is excellent incentive to hitch up your wagon to a star or two and never stop dreaming.

For more information, visit online at www.lafayette148.com.

 

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about kimberly suggs

Kimberly is the head of Very Stylish Girl and Style Eternal LLC, a fashion consulting company. She is a media veteran and retail fashion buyer for some of the most prominent retailers in the country.

She certainly keeps busy! Kimberly just finished styling for one of TV’s hottest shows, TLC’s “What Not to Wear.” She is an adjunct professor at her alma mater FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) and also teaches professional image seminars for the Dress for Success organization. Kimberly handled the design and merchandising of the Brooklyn retail phenom B2 Gear, a concept store that gives back to the community. Located in Brooklyn's notable Fort Green community, B2 Gear is a specialty project created by the non-profit organization Youth America to assist urban youth in learning the structure and practical skills of entrepreneurship.

kimberly suggs

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