item 2 - Leonard Davis interview, 2022 October 26

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Leonard Davis interview, 2022 October 26


  • 2022 October 26 (Creation)

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Fashion Designer, Fashion Event Producer, and Black Americana collector, Leonard Davis, earned his Associate degree in applied science at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1973.
Davis then continued his education at the world-famous L'École de la Chambre Syndicale De La Couture Parisienne, Paris, France where he earned his “Couture Design'' certificate in 1975.
After working as an apprentice for Jean-Louis Sherrer in Paris, Davis returned to New York and began working on Seventh Avenue as part of the design team at Willi Wear. Davis was the first African American designer to head a division for companies such as: Adrianna Papell, Chaus Inc. Tanzara, and Lemon Grass. For 12 years Davis designed private label products for QVC, The Home Shopping Network, Essence by Mail, and retail stores: Saks, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, JCPenney, Sears, Ashley Stewart, and Walmart. Davis has also worked abroad as Design Director for several International fashion houses including Mihang International, (Korea) Sage Apparel, (India), Tanzara international, (India).
In 1990 Leonard realized the necessity for an annual event to honor African Americans in the Fashion Industry.
Through the collaboration of FIT’s Soul Club and FAX, Davis’s vision was realized and he produced several events which honored black fashion pioneers such as: Ophelia DeVore, Naomi Sims, Andre-Leon Talley, Iman, Bethann Hardison, Geoffrey Holder, Carmen De Lavallade, Wesley Tann, Helen Williams, Audrey Smaltz, Susan Taylor, and Stephan Burrows. These events were hosted by Diahann Carroll and Phylicia Rashad.
Davis began collecting African American historical artifacts in 1985. Leonard has published two books entitled, Black Americana Price Guide. Davis has appeared in numerous magazine and newspaper articles, and The Davis Collection has been featured on TV shows: Antiques Road Show, Treasures In Your Home, and ABC News. Items from the Davis collection were featured in Spike Lee’s hit movie Bamboozled, and several items are on display at the newly built African American Museum in Washington, DC, The Civil Rights Museum, and The Norman Rockwell Museum.

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Taur Orange is the head of Educational Opportunity Programs at FIT.

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