Monday, June 18, 2018

Designer Profile: The Magical Erica Tanov

Berkeley-based fashion, product and shoe designer, Erica Tanov is one of the most admired and beloved and accomplished fashion designers. She established her company in 1989, and the following year presented her first collections of dreamy bohemian slip dresses and linen day dresses and vintage-inspired pieces that women love and collect. I love her original and elegant approach, so elegant with a dash of Bohemian chic.

Come with me this week to meet the lovely Erica Tanov, who I’ve known and admired since she first launched her early collections. The poetry of her creations and their timeless appeal make wearing them a life enhancing experience. And let’s take a look at her new book, and learn more about her collaborations, and get to know her style and design approach. Oh, and perfume news!



California designer Erica Tanov photographed by Alana Hale.


Erica has three retail stores—in Berkeley on a prominent corner of Fourth Street, along with a downtown LA boutique, and an outpost in Larkspur, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

This week Erica’s preparing, sketching, and creating a magical and festive Fall and Holiday season collection. Scroll down to see her newest fabrics, her delicate sense of style, her daring and inspired selections of exclusive fabrics, and her independent spirit that continues to transcend fleeting fashion. These are fashions, styles, textiles, and silhouettes to remember.





• Fall Collection, 2017 • 








• Holiday Collection, 2017 •







“I've always been drawn to things with enduring beauty, that are well-designed and well-made. I wanted to create timeless pieces that would last a lifetime and do not reflect fleeting trends. — Erica Tanov


Collections and Focus
Erica started her career as a fashion designer and maker…creating dreamy bohemian slips and pretty dresses and later in collaborations using hand-dyed and artist-made fabrics. She moved to New York in 1985 to study fashion design at Parsons School of Design. After graduating, she worked for noted fashion designer Rebecca Moses in Manhattan. After 2 years working on 7th Avenue, I left to start my own label. 



“
I launched my first collection in 1990. It was hugely inspired by vintage lingerie that I had collected over the years,” she told me in a recent conversation at her Berkeley studio. “Each piece reflected my love and dedication to the finest fabrics, meticulous construction, and subtle detailing. The collections initially consisted of six lingerie/loungewear styles – seamed slips, chemises, bralettes, tap pants – offered in a soft color palette of Irish handkerchief linen.
” — Erica Tanov


In Conversation with Fashion Designer Erica Tanov



DDS: Congratulations, Erica, on your fantastic success and the accolades and recognition you’ve received. Please tell us about your newest fashion collections for fall.



ET:
Thank you, Diane! My fall 2018 collection, like most of my collections, is hugely textural. It’s a blending of my love of nature and the grandeur of the palaces I visited during my trip to India this past winter. I’m working with a rich and slightly somber color palette of loden, deep olive, fawn and dark basalt in plush cashmere/wool for coats, a fluid Italian midnight wool flannel for jackets, pants and skirts and incredibly soft, sumptuous baby alpaca yarn for my sweaters which are hand knit in Bolivia.


DDS: Your collections are always complex and inspirations are fascinating.
ET: With nature, being a constant undercurrent of inspiration for my collections, I’ve developed a kaleidoscopic print created from a portion of a vintage botanical drawing. The fall collection also has hints of metallics –pewter- coated cotton, echoing the glimmer of the intricate mirrored tile work, which filled me with awe at the grand fort in Jodhpur. I’ve designed a cropped zip front jacket and large carryall weekend bag, simple, clean bodies to let the fabric speak. 


DDS: There’s a jewelbox of sparkle and shimmer.
ET: Metallics take on more importance in my Holiday collection, which is comprised of a cacophony of gold and silver– metallic lace knits, custom designed textiles woven in France, heavily fringed. Intricate tonal hand embroidery featuring a pattern inspired by photos I took of the detailed carved marble at the Taj Mahal will appear on tunics and blouses. Opulence reigns supreme in the Holiday collection.


• Holiday Collection, 2017 • 











DDS: You have always been an expert at finding beautiful and unusual fabrics. To create exclusive colors you were hand-dying silk and using it for slips and dresses in romantic soft colors. What are some of the fabrics in your fall designs? 
ET: It is very important for me as an independent, designer-owned fashion company to create collections that are distinctive. Designing my own prints and working closely with fabric mills to develop custom fabrics keep the collections special and recognizable. While some pieces are quite bohemian and others are classic, there is always a common thread from one season to the next—and it’s important that they all work with the previous collections. I’m thrilled when I see people wearing pieces mixed from various past seasons…mixing and matching. That is my intention. 


DDS: Yes, I see friends at parties wearing a mix of Erica Tanov. They’re avid collectors.
ET: It’s my goal to create timeless, and often season-less clothing, to be worn together. Mixing patterns, prints and textures.


 Recently I love my new cashmere evening jackets with silk lining and bell-shaped sleeves.


DDS: I love that some of our designs are very classic—Balenciaga!—and some have a great Boho vibe.
ET: Each season I bring back tried and true styles, giving them new life by producing them in new fabrics. It’s fascinating how simply changing the fabric of a piece can completely transform it into an entirely new style.





DDS: With your line you are in effect creating couture designs in very limited editions. Your evening and day fabrics are sourced in France and Italy…from creative mills that work with top couture designers.
ET: Yes, beautiful fabrics are the starting point for all of my collections. I select fabrics creating complex, textural stories. I play around with swatches, yarns and colors for quite a while until I establish the right story and mood. I then sit with my fabric tale for quite a while before deciding what I’ll make with each fabric, really trying to figure what I would want to wear and how I would feel in each fabric and how each fabric relates to one another. I love mixing opulent fabrics with simple, straightforward fabrics –for both day and eveningwear. 


DDS: It’s fascinating that you work with couture mills in France and Italy.
ET: I have a favorite mill just outside of Paris that works with crazy-beautiful and unusual fibers, weaving the most striking textiles. Their enormous scope of fibers, color and ingenuity is staggering. They welcome working with designers to create custom and exclusive fabrics and, fortunately, are open to small quantities, which is key for me since my collection is produced as limited editions. One textile I’m working on for my holiday collection is a shimmering metallic tapestry, with a heavily fringed motif that will hang down the center front of a dress – as if you’re wearing a wall hanging. It’s absolutely stunning. Each piece requires intense labor, making them quite costly, but the beauty warrants the cost. It’s like wearing a work of art.



• Collaboration with artist Emily Payne, 2015 •






DDS: I see that you are still offering lovely washed silk slips and evening dresses. They’ll look great with the textures fabric coats and jackets, and your cashmere jackets. You are an expert at planning collections that are versatile and worn in many ways.



ET: My collection always includes the silk slips that were the genesis of my brand. The Lola slip, for example, which was one of the first pieces I designed, has become a signature piece which we offer every season in ivory and black as well as introduce new colors each season. It’s a piece I believe every woman should have in her closet, whether she wears it layered under other clothing, or to sleep in or as an evening dress ––or all of the above. It’s an all-purpose piece and fits so many bodies. I’m obsessed with slips, the seaming, the detailing, the fit, the way they feel and hang on the body. I’m also a fan of layering. I love mixing patterns and textures so I design my collections to mix and match and be worn in many different ways. A skirt and a jacket can be worn in the same fabric, becoming a suit, which is beautiful and more classic, often easier for people to imagine, but I prefer mixing up fabrics, which gives more character and personality and richness. It’s up to each woman to make it her own and introduce her own style into what she wears.


• Collaboration with artist Lena Wolf, 2014 • 










DDS: What are you most thrilled about?
ET: I love the SADIE bell sleeved coat. It’s become a classic despite the unusual shaped, 3/4 length sleeve. A favorite detail I’ve become known for is lining my coats with an unexpected print. I love having a surprise peek that’s only discovered when the coat opens. It’s like having a cherished secret. It’s usually the understated details that give me the most pleasure.






DDS: What accessories are you adding to the mix this Fall season.


ET: I will have my assortment of luxurious metallic ribbed socks and stockings made in France, offered in pewter, soft gold and silver. My signature leather shopping tote, make-up bag, zip clutch and wallets will be available in a range of rich, supple leather as well as silver and gold. We’re bringing back the baby alpaca fringe collars in some new colors – perfect for those who want the soft, glamorous feel of fur, without wearing fur.




DDS: Some of your longtime clients and fashion collectors wear mostly Erica Tanov. And they all wear it differently and style it their own way. That’s a very distinctive aspect of your work, your attitude. You know your customer.
ET: I see women of all ages wearing my clothing. Women who appreciate timeless, enduring pieces made with integrity. My clothing attracts people interested in self-expression and not necessarily concerned with brand names, but understand the value of quality and “slow fashion” vs. massed produced clothing. I love that every woman brings their own style to what they wear.


DDS: You are admired…and never a label in sight.
ET: I love seeing someone dressed head to toe in Erica Tanov, and I also appreciate blending brands –seeing my pieces worn with other designers.




• Marin Store •









DDS: Tell us about your growing home collections. What’s new, and what materials and media are you working in now?
ET: Introducing home goods to my brand was a natural progression– creating a lifestyle approach –I realized that expressing my vision was more than just in clothing. I believe surrounding oneself with beauty is paramount. What you put on your body or in your home affects the way you feel and those around you. I began expanding into interiors by introducing a bedding collection, made in India. I have since developed a collection of pillows and throws, which are hand-knit in Bolivia. I designed a capsule collection of silk-screened wallpaper based on my original prints from past clothing collections. I recently worked on an encaustic cement tile collection with Clé Tile, translating some of my archival prints into tiles. I also collaborated with long-time friend and woodworker, Russell Fong, on a furniture collection – the Ciervo Chair and Sofa – clean, modern, timeless pieces made of walnut with cushions featuring Erica Tanov fabrics. 

A current project which I’m ecstatic about is a collection of metal tiles for Clé Tile which will launch in October. The metal tiles are a perfect blend of raw and refinement – masculine/feminine opulent beauty.


• Berkeley Store •









DDS: Your favorite new pieces?
ET: I adore wallpaper and have used a variety of patterns in my home, so to design wallpaper and see my prints move from clothing to walls was quite exciting. I look forward to expanding the wallpaper collection, adding new patterns and colors.












DDS: You design and print and create your exclusive home fabrics as well?
ET: Yes, designing my own prints was a huge turning point for me. Being able to translate artwork onto fabric, whether it’s my own drawings, reworking graphic motifs or collaborating with artists to come up with original prints for fabric has opened up an entire world of creativity, adding another dimension in textiles and offering special, limited run collections has made my work so gratifying and rewarding.



• Furniture collaboration with craftsman Russell Fong, 2017 •









• Dune Collection — Linens, Summer 2016 • 









DDS: You work with a lot of local and regional artists, craftspeople.
ET: Working with other creative people has made my work so much more rich and meaningful. Sharing ideas and views and making something together has definitely expanded the breadth of my work. I’ve worked with several artists – photographers, painters, sculptures– translating their artwork into prints for fabrics for clothing and bedding. It’s mutually rewarding to see artwork take on a new form – a painting becomes a print on fabric which becomes a dress to wear – making art more accessible to some people. 







DDS: You love working with artists.
ET: I’ve collaborated with established craftsmen to expand my home goods offerings –working in new mediums to create exclusive products for my stores. Notary Ceramics, based in Portland, and I teamed up to create a beautiful, streamlined collection exclusively for my stores, consisting of cups and pitcher and a shallow serving bowl all in a signature matte cream glaze with metallic bronze "drip edge" detail. We’re now expanding the collection to include an oval platter and vase.







DDS: And you recently traveled to India to collaborate with workshops there.
ET: Yes! I finally took a long overdue trip to India in January. After many years of having fabric printed and bedding sewn in Jaipur, communicating via email, Skype and photos, it was wonderful to at last see the workshop where it all takes place. While in India, I also met with a new small family-run workshop that has incredible hand embroidery and beading capabilities, which I am now including in my upcoming holiday collection. 







DDS: You recently published a new book on design and design thinking, with Ten Speed Press. 
ET: Yes, ‘Design by Nature’, is my first book. It illustrates how nature inspires work and has long been the core of my inspiration. The book translates elements of nature – including wood, water, dirt, weeds and decay– into elements of design and decor for the home. I show how nature's colors, textures, and patterns influence and inspire my design process and how we can bring what we see in nature into our lives in a more meaningful way. My intention is to encourage readers to open their eyes to the beauty that surrounds them. 




DDS: Erica, thank you for an insider look at Erica Tanov. I love your designs and your concepts and fashions. I admire the independent and very joyful way you approach design, and the charming eccentricity and timeless elegance you embrace. 





Designer Erica Tanov, photographed by Alana Hale.



Newest Fabrics for Fall/Holiday

Erica has assembled textiles she’s created using her own imagery and patterns. The newest collections for Fall 2018 will include shimmering gold, patterned silks, and the contrast of hand knits, nubby wool, and cloud-like gold threads.





Erica Tanov price points: Silk slips start at $196 to $1800 for a evening coat in exclusive shimmering textiles.



• Holiday Collection, 2017 • 










The Newest from Erica

“I’m excited about another new project I’m working on that should be released soon: A bespoke ERICA TANOV fragrance is being developed with the master scent maker of Capsule Parfumerie. We are creating a fresh, woodsy, slightly floral fragrance that will be available exclusively at my stores. Encased in beautiful bottle sourced in France, the fragrance pays homage to my natural surroundings growing up in Northern California.


• Fall Collection, 2017 • 







Where to Find Erica Tanov Designs:



Berkeley

1827 Fourth Street

Berkeley, CA 94107

(510) 849 3331



Marin
 County
Marin Country Mart

2415 Larkspur Landing Circle

Larkspur, CA 94939

(415) 464 9008



Los Angeles
 
The Row DTLA

1318 East 7th Street #120 

(Enter at 777 S. Alameda Street)

Los Angeles, CA 90021

(213) 266 8947



CREDITS:


Portraits—Alana Hale


Store Interiors—Michael Weber


Clothing collections—Gabrielle Stiles; Terri Loewenthal; Ngoc Minh Ngo


CONTACT:

• Fall Collection, 2017 • 









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