Katie Holmes' designer discovers his own home design heaven in Houston,including pieces he can't find in Paris
Lafayette 148 designer Edward Wilkerson dresses celebrities Katie Holmes and Sienna Miller, draws interior design inspiration from Karl Lagerfeld’s renovation of Berlin’s Alma Schlosshotel im Grunewald and routinely comes to Houston to shop for hard-to-find furniture and accessories.
Yes, you read that right. Houston.
Despite living in New York and routinely traveling to some of the world’s most exotic locales, Wilkerson’s hotbed of fashionable furniture and home accessories is in, well our proverbial backyard. He raves about Shabby Slips and Mid Century Modern Furniture, two stores that have outfitted his homes in ways other places haven’t.
After a personal appearance at Neiman Marcus for his clothing line, Wilkerson was chatty about his love affair with the city’s stores that have helped his design style go from ethnic furniture and art to a curious blend of French antiques and Mid-Century pieces.
“I changed my attitude and wanted a change in my environment. Shabby Slips and Mid Century Modern are two of my favorites,” Wilkerson tells CultureMap.
After searching, literally, everywhere for years, he found a special piece at Houston’s Roche Bobois. “I was just in Paris and they didn’t have it,” he says incredulously.
Wilkerson’s black-clad ensemble belies the colorful direction he is taking in his home décor as well as his spring collection. His spring hues are bright with pink and the requisite coral, but it is the Lafayette 148 tweed navy and white jacket he’s most excited about this spring.
“It’s very versatile and looks beautiful with khaki. Women want options and this jacket gives a lot of choices,” Wilkerson says.
He put that philosophy into play after completely changing the style and tone of his homes. There are still African, Asian and Indian influences, but he added a Vladimir Kagan serpentine sofa to the mix and gilded French antique mirrors. Wilkerson was so enamored with Lagerfeld’s re-imagining of the palace tucked in the middle of a German forest, he carries the hotel’s slightly battered business card in his wallet and pictures of the rooms on his iPhone.
“Just to see the suite is amazing,” Wilkerson says. He has put his own spin on the merging of old and new, just as Lagerfeld did at the hotel, reveling in contrast and embracing light.
“Décor to me is the same as designing,” he says.
Shabby Slips manager Marlene Gonzalez has seen him in action. She gets the call from Wilkerson’s assistant when they are on the way to the store, often after he has met with customers around town. He has worked with Gonzalez so often now, that they have a system that starts with a photo, some measuring, he visits and eventually, pieces arrive at his New York address.
“He sees all the fabrics and knows all the fabrics and will say, this looks like gown material. His eyes see everything. We have a wonderful marriage,” Gonzalez says.
The first piece Wilkerson bought from Shabby Slips was an antique gilded mirror and since then, his collection includes all manner of European antiques. His relationship with Gonzalez and the rest of the staff has deepened to a friendship and when they commented on a style of Lafayette 148 pants, Wilkerson promptly sent pairs to the store.
His affinity for Mid Century Modern décor is an interesting contrast to the intricate and unrestrained look of French antiques. Wilkerson added a mixed graphic painting with Belgian and Italian frames after realizing the opportunities that came with modern furniture and style.
“It becomes a blank canvas for me to take and make it very eclectic,” Wilkerson says.
He has taken the concept and applied it to his beach house, carefully balancing all the strong personalities involved. Like a proud papa, Wilkerson is happy to show pictures of the rooms he loves to create and then live in with friends. Just because he spends a great deal of time and, one can assume, money on the design projects, Wilkerson keeps livability in mind. A sofa needs to be comfy and there needs to be place to stretch out and put up your feet.
It’s in that mindset where Wilkerson’s design ethos easily flows from his clothing collection to his homes.
“It’s good to move forward and take a chance. It’s not good just to sit there,” he says.