Guitar player and drummer Gilber Gilmore, 42, moved to New York to pursue a career in music. In 1995, along with his then fashion designer girlfriend, he worked at a flea market in SoHo and soon discovered his input on fabric-choice, cuts and fits significantly boosted up their sales.
The artist decided then to open up his own booth at the flea market, right next to hers. He made 7000 pieces of a maxi-skirt he really believed in, which he sold to the other market vendors. But the fabric kept sticking to the body and the skirts didn’t sell. With a pile of skirts on his couch, Gilmore flipped through a few fashion magazines that all carried a unanimous message: knee-length skirts and tube tops were back. He cut one skirt and it immediately draped perfectly on the body. With the remaining fabric from each skirt he made two tube tops, and everything was sold within a week. Amazing success followed.
Gilmore started selling his pieces to high-end stores all around the world, and his designs were worn by many celebrities, including, Kelly Clarkson, Paula Abdul, Avril Levine, Eva Longoria, Paris Hilton and Madonna. Now, Gilmore’s fashion hobby turned mega successful label is what allows him to afford his passion for music.
MadlyJuicy: That’s crazy.
Gilber Gilmore: That was when everything changed for me. The flea market was in SoHo, where all the expensive boutiques were, so my ex-wife/partner, Laurie Delk, and I decided to make an expensive pair of pants and sell it to them. We made twenty pieces of a low-waist boot cut trouser with a leather waistband, and offered it to David Katzav from Big Drop, who had five high-end stores around Manhattan. I priced it high for wholesale, which Katzav thought to be absurd, given nobody knew me at the time. I left the pants there and told him to either sell them or keep them. He called two days later and said they were sold out. Now I sell my designs to Intermix as well.
MJ: So those pants became your signature piece?
GG: No. Later on, I heard a girl say she wanted a pair of suit-like slacks in a low cut jean fit. That’s exactly what I did. Those pants were then worn by so many celebrities, and were best sellers for over nine years. There’s a secret to those pants. Hint: my clients used to call me “the butt lifter.” I now only make them custom for private clients.
MJ: Sounds like a simple transition from flea market to fashion mogul.
GG: There were a lot of failures along the way, but when things started working out they worked really well. The partnership that took me to the next level was Stelle, my company with the Hilton family. It started out great but soon turned into a nightmare. The recession was actually the best thing that ever happened to me because we had to close it down.
MJ: Now there’s this lace-trend. Did you surrender to it or start it?
GG: I didn’t invent the wheel, unfortunately for you. I saw a lace dress I loved by a French designer, but felt like the fit was wrong. I’m very anal about fits. I want them to compliment different body types. I believe in timeless pieces, and the vintage twist, which is in the essence of lace, makes it timeless. I change the sleeves, neckline and fabric pattern every season, but keep the timeless fit and material.
MJ: How do you make lace, which has a reputation for being dressy, work for different occasions?
GG: Wear the dress with flip-flops and a casual hairdo for a daytime look. Change the flops to a high-heel and add the right accessories for a gorgeous evening look. Lace is one of the best fabrics to wear jewelry with. It adds texture, glamour and fits almost every body type. In terms of color, though it’s mostly a matter of taste, the nude one is my favorite. It compliments the body and every skin tone. Black goes with everything, but it’s not the best seller for the lace, because it’s very dramatic and particular.
Originally published June 2013. Updated May 2016.