28 Days of Black Fashion History: Edward Wilkerson
His designs are a favorite of Oprah and Queen Latifah, and he’s a veteran of such brands as Calvin Klein and Donna Karan. Former design director for the brand Lafayette 148 New York, Edward Wilkerson knew he wanted to be a fashion designer at the age of 10. And his inspiration: his impeccably styled mother.
Wilkerson is a native New Yorker, graduating from the High School of Art and Design. When he wanted a summer job on Seventh Avenue, he pounded the pavement, stopping at every building and every floor asking for an interview. He eventually landed at Anne Klein, and there he met Donna Karan.
Wilkerson attended Parsons the New School for Design. He worked for Calvin Klein after graduating, but a few years later, he went back to working as a senior designer with Donna Karan, this time on her signature collection. He worked with Karan for 15 years before going to Lafayette 148.
Wilkerson is an avid traveler and often uses his travel as inspiration.
“I never know what I am going to see when I arrive at my designation, but once I’m there, I absorb everything from the colors and culture to the landscape and architecture. I apply whatever I find into the next collection.”
An interesting fact about Wilkerson is that he can’t sew! Say what? Yes!! “Everyone at Parsons would always rip my clothes apart because I couldn’t sew, and to this day, I can’t sew a stitch. But I excel in art and creativity, which has gotten me this far!”
Wilkerson is an avid photographer, his work being exhibited nationally and internationally. Today, he is the brand ambassador for Urban Zen by Donna Karan, creating accessories in her boutique in Sag Harbor, sometimes selling some of his framed artwork and styling the store’s clothing, accessories and furnishings.
#Funfact: Wilkerson was once told by the Dean at Parsons that he would never be a designer and should start thinking about what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Meanwhile, Wilkerson was already working as a designer at Anne Klein. To aspiring designers, he offers this piece of advice: “Start at the top. The bottom is always going to be there.”