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Leonard Davis

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Information about Leonard Davis

Profile image of Leonard Davis

Profession

Category:
StyleMakers
Occupation(s):
Fashion Designer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Soul Food
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
The Will To Do Will Make A Way

Birthplace

Born:
3/12/1953
Birth Location:
Washington, District of Columbia

Profession

Category:
StyleMakers
Occupation(s):
Fashion Designer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Soul Food
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
The Will To Do Will Make A Way

Birthplace

Born:
3/12/1953
Birth Location:
Washington
See how Leonard Davis is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Fashion designer, fashion event producer and Black Americana collector, Leonard Davis, was born on March 12, 1953 in Washington, D.C. to Jordan and Cleo Davis. He graduated from Coolidge High School in 1970 and earned his associate degree in applied science at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in 1973. Davis then continued his education at the world famous L'Ecole de la Chamber Syndicale De La Couture Parisienne in 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 his designing career working for Willi Wear. On more than one occasion throughout his career, Davis was the first African American designer to head a division for companies including Adrianna Papell, Josephine Chaus, Inc. and Donnkenny. For twelve years, Davis worked developing private label products at Liz Claiborne, QVC, The Home Shopping Network (HSN), Essence by Mail and retail stores including Saks, Nordstrom, Bloomindales, Macy’s, JC Penney, Sears, Ashley Stewart and Steinmart. Davis has also worked abroad as Design Director for several International fashion houses including Mihang International, (Korean) Sage Apparel, (India) Tanzara/Plus Impact, (India).

In 1990, Davis realized the necessity for an annual event to honor African Americans in the fashion industry. With the collaboration of The Fashion Institute of Technology and Fashion and Arts Xchange, Davis’ vision was realized. He produced several annual events which honored black fashion pioneers including Ophelia DeVore, Naomi Sims, Andre-LeonTalley, Iman, Geoffrey Holder, Carmen De Lavallade, Wesley Tann, Helen Williams, Audrey Smaltz, Susan Taylor and Stephan Burrows. The event was hosted by Diahann Carroll and Phylicia Rashad.

In 1985, Davis began collecting Black Americana. He has published two books entitled “Black Americana Price Guide.” Davis has appeared in numerous magazines and newspaper articles, and The Davis Collection has been featured on several television shows including “Antiques Road Show,” “Treasures in Your Home,” ABC News, and featured in Spike Lee movie “Bamboozled.”

Leonard Davis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 31, 2007.

See how Leonard Davis is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leonard Davis' interview, session 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leonard Davis describes his mother's education and upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leonard Davis describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leonard Davis' mother describes her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leonard Davis describes his father's career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leonard Davis describes how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leonard Davis describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leonard Davis describes his upbringing in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leonard Davis describes his neighbors
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Leonard Davis describes Washington D.C.'s racial environment
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leonard Davis remembers his early interests
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leonard Davis remembers Rabaut Junior High School in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leonard Davis recalls his fashion column at Chamberlain Vocational High School in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leonard Davis remembers his growing interest in fashion
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leonard Davis recalls learning to sew
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Leonard Davis describes his early fashion shows
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Leonard Davis remembers winning a national art competition
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Leonard Davis recalls his decision to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Leonard Davis remembers the Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Leonard Davis remembers learning about fashion designers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leonard Davis recalls his black peers at the Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leonard Davis remembers the emergence of black fashion designers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leonard Davis remembers the disco scene in New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leonard Davis recalls his early aspirations as a designer
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Leonard Davis describes his education at the Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Leonard Davis recalls his decision to study couture in Paris, France
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Leonard Davis recalls his experiences of discrimination in Paris, France
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Leonard Davis recalls his training at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Leonard Davis describes his design apprenticeship in Paris, France
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Leonard Davis remembers the arts community in Paris, France
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Leonard Davis recalls searching for employment in New York City
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leonard Davis remembers being lost in Paris, France
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leonard Davis remembers searching for housing in Paris, France
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leonard Davis remembers working with Helen Faske
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leonard Davis remembers visiting his family for Christmas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leonard Davis remembers his interview with Oleg Cassini
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Leonard Davis describes Willi Smith's design career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Leonard Davis explains the development of junior sportswear
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Leonard Davis remembers working at WilliWear Ltd.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Leonard Davis talks about the African American fashion community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Leonard Davis remembers being hired at Adrianna Papell
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Leonard Davis remembers designing for Bernard Chaus, Inc.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Leonard Davis recalls designing for Oak Hill Sportswear Corporation and Donnkenny, Inc.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Leonard Davis describes his international career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Leonard Davis describes his experiences of racial discrimination in the fashion industry
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Leonard Davis describes the stereotyping of African American designers
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Leonard Davis describes the urban wear market
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Leonard Davis talks about designing for the moderate market
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Leonard Davis talks about notable African American fashion designers
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Leonard Davis talks about the changes in the fashion industry
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Leonard Davis describes Tanzara International, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Leonard Davis describes his organizational involvement
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Leonard Davis lists black fashion pioneers
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Leonard Davis talks about preserving African American fashion history
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Leonard Davis shares advice for aspiring African American fashion designers
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Leonard Davis talks about the term ethnic
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Leonard Davis shares lessons from his career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Leonard Davis talks about his parents' influence on his career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Leonard Davis lists his favorites
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Leonard Davis's interview, session 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Leonard Davis remembers buying his first apartment
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Leonard Davis recalls his first purchase of African American memorabilia
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Leonard Davis talks about the value of African American collectibles
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Leonard Davis shares the history of Aunt Jemima
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Leonard Davis describes his Weller Pottery cookie jar set
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Leonard Davis describes his collection of black Americana artifacts
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Leonard Davis talks about negative caricatures in his collection
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Leonard Davis describes the reactions to his black Americana collection
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Leonard Davis describes the history of racist images in advertisements
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Leonard Davis describes the Weller Pottery Aunt Jemima set
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Leonard Davis shares his collection of black beauty products
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Leonard Davis describes the educational value of historical artifacts
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Leonard Davis talks about the importance of preserving family histories
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Leonard Davis describes his relationship with his Americana collection
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Leonard Davis talks about the advertising images of African Americans
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Leonard Davis describes the changes in images of Aunt Jemima
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Leonard Davis talks about depictions of African Americans on cereal boxes
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Leonard Davis shares tobacco cans from his black Americana collection
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Leonard Davis describes the history of racial slurs in product names
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Leonard Davis shares an advertisement for Nigger Hair Smoking Tobacco
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Leonard Davis describes his collection of piggybanks with racist imagery
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Leonard Davis shares his artifacts from the Madam C.J. Walker School of Beauty Culture
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Leonard Davis describes his artifacts from the Coon Chicken Inn
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Leonard Davis describes his Weller Pottery set depicting Aunt Jemima
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Leonard Davis shares the Aunt Jemima products in his collection
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Leonard Davis narrates his photographs