Edward Buchanan Named CCAD Alumni Fashion Icon
Renowned fashion designer Edward Buchanan has been named Columbus College of Art & Design’s 2010 Alumni Fashion Icon.
This year is the second in which CCAD has honored a former student for their significant contributions to the fashion industry.
“Edward stands out as a designer who not only has launched several international clothing and accessory brands, but is also looked to as a consultant for major fashion brands and international celebrities alike,” said Laurie Beth Sweeney, director of annual giving at CCAD.
Buchanan is understandably pleased.
“[The Icon award] is a true honor for me,” he says. “It’s always nice to be recognized for any achievements—quite shocking, actually!”
A Cleveland native, Buchanan enrolled at CCAD in 1988 to study retail advertising and fashion illustration. Four years later, he left Columbus for New York City.
“A friend of mine from CCAD was also moving there and I was so obsessed with idea of the big city’s opportunities,” he explains.
At the time, Buchanan was working as a visual merchandiser for Gap at Columbus City Center, so he asked his boss for a transfer to NYC.
“I went to New York for an interview and got the job,” he says. “I worked for a few months and entered Parsons [School of Design]. It was my only way of paying for school!”
To supplement that income, Buchanan also began window dressing, styling, and illustrating on a freelance basis for several labels, including Giorgio Armani, J. Crew, Calvin Klein, and Michael Kors.
Upon earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Parsons in 1995, Buchanan was appointed Bottega Veneta’s design director− a job that landed him in Italy.
“I was hired fresh out of school at the helm of this fabulous luxury house,” he says. “I was green, but very ambitious. I had to listen, learn and react.
“The first collections were extremely well received and assisted in building the company to what it is today. It was at this point a family-owned business. I always felt that I was involved in something special.”
Buchanan added knitwear and leather goods to the brand, and effectively raised its international profile by launching Bottega into the Japanese and American markets.
After six years, Buchanan left Bottega to launch LEFLESH, a line that fused knitwear and ready-to-wear with shoes and handbags; he embarked on the endeavor with fellow Bottega designer Manuela Morin.
“LEFLESH was our own brand with no history,” he says. “We wanted to create a product based on creativity and artisan workmanship. After so many years at an established house, we felt it was time.”
The brand’s first collection, for Fall/Winter 2001, was presented in a Milanese dance studio.
“We were so well known from Bottega that our press was amazing,” Buchanan says. “The mood was magical.”
Offering clothing, accessories, and footwear off the bat is unusual, but Buchanan and Morin believed their unique work history readied them for such an ambitious undertaking.
“We were quite used to working on a full look,” Buchanan explains. “We carried some of our factory contacts over from Bottega Veneta and kept everything tight and based on one idea.”
Though LEFLESH’s first collection was only intended for press, Buchanan and Morin ended up writing orders, which was shocking to the pair.
Despite its success, LEFLESH was shuttered about four years ago, when the designers started consulting for other brands.
Also, “Manuela had children and we felt it was time to move on. It was really a labor of love. LEFLESH has a special place in my heart and history,” Buchanan says.
In 2003, he launched yet another line: Sansovino6. The line’s name is derived from the address of the Italian knitwear factory where it’s produced.
“I liked how official it sounded, so I named the collection accordingly,” Buchanan says.
Originally, Sansovino6 was conceived as a means for the factory to attain more knitwear manufacturing business.
“After my return to New York for two years to work for Jennifer Lopez and Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, I restarted the collection under the terms that I could do what I felt correct for the time,” he says. “I wanted to create a collection for my friends and me. Slightly ambiguous and easy. All knitwear, of course.”
Sansovino6 offers separates, “from coats to T-shirts and everything in between,” for men and women, Buchanan says. “It’s really essential pieces for fast-moving city looks. It’s comfort and luxe, but casual and easy.”
The label’s most recent collection, for Fall/Winter 2011, was shown during Milan and Paris fashion weeks; it is sold in Milan, Paris, Berlin and Tokyo, and Buchanan says he’s certain his wares will eventually make their way to American boutiques.
Buchanan, 39, will be presented with the second annual Alumni Fashion Icon award at the 2010 Senior Fashion Show, “Origins,” Sat., May 8 at CCAD’s Design Studios on Broad.
Home, fashion, and print designer Amy Butler (CCAD Class of 1988) took home the Icon award in 2009.