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Passion for Fashion
Published Wednesday, March 17, 2010 1:29 AM
By Paul Zoeller
Summerville Journal Scene
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The day before her big show, Julia Faye Davison is all smiles. After designing a collection of clothing she will debut during Charleston Fashion Week, Davison only has one more outfit to make -- her own. After countless hours spent dying, cutting and sewing together her outfits, she is excited to put together something for herself.

"I'd rather make something than go out and buy something to wear. The majority of clothes I wear out, I make," Davidson explains.

A designer's work is never done.

Models wear the designs of Julia Aye Davison on the runway at Charleston Fashion Week.

The Beginning

A graduate of Summerville High School, Davison realized her senior year that she wanted to design clothing. She attended fashion school in Tampa, Florida but was not challenged so she moved to England and attended the American Intercontinental University.

Davison traces her design out on a mannequin before making a pattern.

Davison said she gained much from her experiences over there and came home before eventually graduating from the American Intercontinental University in Atlanta.

After moving back to the Lowcountry last year, she realized Charleston has its own fashion week. She volunteered to work backstage during the event and saw the Emerging Designer Competition -- she decided to try out.

Davison drains the water from old coffee grounds that will be used to stain some linen fabric.

"I can't believe I made it," she said. "That's what keeps me going."

Working nonstop since January, she has completed her 10-piece collection and will compete with seven other designers in the competition.

Fabrics, jewelry and photos cover the walls of Julia Faye's work space.

The Inspiration

Davison was a free spirit growing up and developed an appreciation for Native Americans and their culture.

"I just love the Native American mentality of using only what you need." she said.

Native Americans would use every part of the animal they killed. Davison believes in following in their footsteps. Recycling the old leather and making use of it again is her way of honoring the Native American way.

Davison goes over her looks with stylists who help her pick the right makeup and hairstyle to suit her collection.

"I didn't kill it or eat it or use any other part of the animal so this is my way of following in that path," she said.

Watching a lot of period dramas growing up, Davison dreamed of living in the Jane Austen era of powerful women. Drawing upon that era and her love of the Native American culture was Davison's inspiration for her collection of men's and women's wear.

Models file past as Davison looks for the right people to wear her collection.

The Design

Julia calls her color palette "the vegetable patch" because each of her pieces of clothes resembles the colors of a garden -- beets, egg plant, spinach, etc. Her collection calls for earth tones but Davison says those are the colors she uses for most everything she designs.

"I'm not really a metropolitan designer; I like earthy tones and rustic colors. I don't think I ever have designed anything glitzy or with bright colors," she says.

Davison steps back to take a look at one of her pieces.

Throughout the design process, she spends hours over the stove heating water for her dyes. Going for a unique look and wanting to recycle, she uses old coffee grounds to stain linen material. While sitting next to the stove, she strings beads onto necklaces to go with the collection.

Her design consists of a mixture of leather, linens, silk and cotton. Most of the materials she buys new but she travels to a local thrift shop for her leather. Roaming the aisles, she comes across a jacket with a five dollar price tag. Not sure what is underneath, she decides it is too good to pass up at that price.

Davison finishes the look of a outfit.

Once home, Davison sorts through a stack of old jackets, ripping apart each of her leather finds before cutting out patterns and adding the pieces to her outfits.

A desire to recycle sends Julia Faye to area thrift stores for old leather jackets. Over 90% of the leather in Davison's collection is recycled.

Fashion Preparation

Feeling a bit stressed, Davison carries a book full of model bios under one arm and a pile of clothing under the other as she heads to model castings. Knowing she has a unique look to cast for, she is worried she might not find the right models.

Each designer is ushered into a room and a line of models comes in to show their walk and answer questions. After taking a couple of measurements and pictures, she rushes to the next room to meet with hair and makeup.

Examining each garment, Davison loves the way her collection is turning out.

The halls are filled with girls towering above Davison in their high heels. Rushing between fittings and styling -- she pauses, looks up, and says you would be perfect as she passes a model not available to her.

Though the process is long and tiring, she leaves smiling with the selection she made. During lunch, she constantly goes back to her camera and reviews each model in the outfit she chose for them. No time to rest, back home to adjust the hems.

Davison's work space becomes more crowded as her collection grows.

Between runs to the fabric store, hours in front of the sewing machine and making custom jewelry -- Davison has little time for anything else. When not designing, she loves to teach hula hoop or perform. Almost 15 hula hoops sit in the back seat of her car untouched. Sometimes she hears a song and thinks "Ewww, that would be cool to hula hoop to -- I'm weird," she says laughing.

Davison checks the fit of an outfit on a model during final dress rehearsal. as her mother, Angie Davison, watches.

Every week she gets closer to a finished collection. "I'm totally going to wear these pants!" she says after finishing them.

From the beginning, Davison has been excited about her collection, fashion week and the Emerging Designer competition. As the outfits are transformed from drawings to conception, she gets even more excited.

"At first, doing it on paper, I thought it was ok. Now that it is done, I'm excited it turned out the way I wanted -- maybe more," she says.

Models make one last pass down the runway at the end of Julia Faye's show.

Fashion Week

One more day to go and Julia Faye is all smiles as she sees the models in the finished outfits. Measurements are perfect she says. Next stop, the runway.

After many months of hard work -- Julia Faye's first model makes her appearance. The crowd erupts in applause as she struts Davison's design down the runway. Countless hours and sleepless nights -- all worth it as Julia makes her appearance at the end of the show wearing a big smile.

After her show is over, Davison sits in the audience and watches the other designer's collection come down the runway.

What next? A job she says but more than anything -- "I just want to relax and unwind."

To see the whole collection, visit Seenit.

Paul Zoeller is a freelance photographer new to the area. Do you have an idea for a new blog or a question about a current blog? If you do contact Zoeller at

Comments (6)

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010 2:43 AM


Posted by:
Monday, March 29, 2010 8:26 AM

All of the previous posters are apparently comfortable with wearing the outfit in the first photo. Why you want to ban a bikini bar??

Posted by:
Rustic yet Sophisticated
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 10:48 PM

The clothing is gorgeous! The attention to detail, right down to every clasp, hand beaded necklace, and coffee stained fabric is remarkable. You are a true designer! Great job!

Posted by: Kristin
Love it
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 9:49 PM

Amazing job, I'd wear it all!

Posted by: Hannah
Awesome Collection!!!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 4:54 PM

Love,love,love your collection Julia. You are an extemely gifted and talented designer.

Posted by: Brenda
Fabulous Designer
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 12:36 PM

Your designs rock the stage. Bravo, Fabulous work!!!!!!

Posted by: Angie

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