With a tiny little sigh and a big smile, Erin Wasson acknowledges the general skepticism about models who become fashion designers. “Look, I’m not a pattern maker. I don’t know how to drape fabric. I didn’t go to design school. I’m also not trying to reinvent the wheel. I’m just working to create great-looking clothes within the parameters of an affordable, mass brand. There are no Parisian ball gowns here.”

What is in her Fall/Winter 2010 collection, her fourth for RVCA (pronounced roo-ka), is a series of soft, easy pieces — tees, tunics, long dresses, leggings — that are eminently layer-able. And, as she notes, “they’re clothes that are easily integrate-able into any girl’s wardrobe.” Palette-wise, Wasson “started at white, then moved into sort of muddy greys and a little black.” The collection’s only patterns are some muted black-and-white marble-ization and muted tie-dye effects. Beyond RVCA’s surf and skate DNA, this Texas-born runway regular and international cover girl drew design inspiration from the music world. Somehow, a long loose silvery grey tank dress emerged from a remembered image of “Mick Jagger in a crazy white suit.” And she laughs that she was having “a Stevie Ray Vaughn moment” when she conceived a particular pair of pleated white pants.

Okay, designing the collection is one thing. But what about mounting the fashion show? How does she, as a still-sought-after model, deal with casting and then directing other models? “During casting sessions, I actually think I am more sensitive and empathetic than most. I mean, girls walk in who probably shouldn’t even be models, but I always take the same time with them, give them the same attention before I thank them and send them on their way.”

Her pre-show routine, she says, always includes telling the models how awesome they are. But she also has strict instructions when it comes to the walk. “I know a lot of girls want to do a sexy walk, all pose-y and hip swing-y. I tell them to walk the runway just as if they were walking down the street — with conviction, and having fun, but not as if they’re trying to seduce every guy they pass.”

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