Style Seekers Find a Home at David Lawrence

David Lawrence Photo: Christine Buffalow

The posh Bellevue stop has what our cities’ fashionistas are dying for.

Stylish. It’s your middle name. But the act of sorting through stacks and racks in some lofty department store isn’t really your ideal way of spending a weekend afternoon. You have champagne brunches to attend. Save yourself the hassle next time and perfect your style courtesy of David Lawrence.

David Lawrence, a posh boutique located in Bellevue’s Bravern, offers a striking array of garments, accessories and footwear. From sleek men’s suits to flowing print dresses, this upscale retailer has been outfitting Bellevueites and Seattleites with sophisticated designer clothing for the past 17 years. However, inventory is not what most concerns David Blackham, the Seattle native who founded the company and currently serves as its president and owner.

David Lawrence
Photo: Christine Buffalow

“We want to give people a real shopping experience,” says Blackham. He believes it is this unique provision that distinguishes visits to his business from, say, shopping at a large department store or on the Internet.

Blackham opened his first David Lawrence store in 1994, following several years spent working for various retailers. When the store opened, his wife, Diana Blackham, served as Financial and Operations Consultant. At the time of its foundation, the store only sold menswear, and she served as a contributing editor to their men’s collection as well. In 2004, Diana was instrumental in launching the women’s line for the store. That same year, she became David Lawrence’s Vice President and CFO, positions that she retains to this day.

“We’re part of a dying breed,” Blackham explains. “There are very few multi-brand stores out there anymore. It’s very difficult to compete with the larger names, because as the economy contracts, designers and collections are going to these bigger places to stay alive. Historically, designers want to be in boutiques, but now there are much fewer boutiques to be in.”

Photo: David Lawrence

In the age of mega stores and e-shopping, David Lawrence provides a nostalgic atmosphere that hearkens back to a time when venues such as this were the standard for buying clothes, and not a novelty. “There’s still a romance to coming into a store and getting service,” Blackham says. “You are waited on by professionals who are involved in selecting the product, and customers appreciate that.”

Blackham notes that his two veteran sales consultants, Joe and Voula, have each been with the company for over a decade, and both have at least 25 years of experience with designer clothing sales.

Indeed, Blackham believes it is this high standard for service that has earned his boutique a faithful clientele. “We have loyal customers who continue to come in, because they appreciate the experience of shopping in our store,” he explained. “If we were relying on walk-in traffic, it would be a real struggle. Our clients know that they can call me with a request, and I’ll know where to find all of the jewels in our store. Most other places are about self-service, and you have to do a lot of digging to find the gems.”

David Lawrence has been a local favorite for many years, but the boutique has only called the Bravern home for the last 10 months. Previously, the store was located at a center court suite in Bellevue Square Mall, which it had occupied since introducing ladies’ garments in 2004. The company also had a store on 4th avenue in downtown Seattle, but Blackham chose not to renew its lease last summer and closed its doors.

For menswear, David Lawrence offers a balanced mix of classical forms and more dramatic selections. The suits range from traditional grays and blacks by Hugo Boss to shinier, more striking designs from Versace, a brand which Blackham calls “a key player for us.” Another name he mentions is ZZegna, a label that produces ultra-slim suits and sport coats especially well-matched for “young professionals.”

The store’s assortment of dress shirt is also quite diverse, offering both uniform designs, as well as more vibrant patterns. Light and dark toned selections from Rock & Republic and Richmond are available, as are brightly-hued striped items from European labels Eton and Sand, the latter of which Blackham characterizes as having “a Paul Smith sensibility.”

David Lawrence boutique
Photo: David Lawrence

If a male customer is shopping for a sweater, they may choose from a form-fitting pullover by Hugo Boss, or voluminous alpaca-wool knitwear from local favorite Built for Man. A variety of thick coats are available, as are striking suit jacket designs by Versace, DSquared and Ibiza.

For the ladies, David Lawrence supplies a gorgeous assortment of choice evening wear. An array of exquisite dresses by designers such as Moschino, Galliano and Gant are on full display. This collection is highlighted by a flowing, printed evening gown from Just Cavalli as the centerpiece.

“We carry everything from jeans to outerwear, the whole nine yards,” Blackham says, referring to the store’s selection of ladies’ garments.. “John Richmond is a gorgeous British collection made in Italy. DSquared is one of our best selling collections for women, as well as Flavio Castellani. Faith Connexion is a French collection which is very big in Europe but they don’t have a lot of distribution in the US, and we are one of the few places that carry them.”

The boutique carries a number of exquisite accessories, as well. Premium leather handbags by Clare Luxury and Faith Connexion line the shelves, while brooch necklaces from local jewelers Rock Star Jewelry and Mandy Moon Vintage shimmer behind the glass cases. An assortment of heels and pumps with different styles for every occasion, from labels such as DSquared, Report Signature and Hugo Boss, can be found in the shoe section.

Blackham, who studied a little musical theater while he was obtaining his fashion merchandising degree from BYU, says that entertainment plays a big part in what his staff aspires to do. “Retailing is show business, in a way,” he says. “It’s entertainment. At this level, people want a show — they want attention, otherwise they go and buy it elsewhere.”

David Lawrence | The Bravern, Suite 275, 110th and 8th Ave. NE, Bellevue, WA