Paulie Gibson is an up-and-coming St. Louis based designer of think-out-of-the-box men’s fashion. His work will be featured during Knoxville Fashion Week.
Your website advises, “Bottom line, be who you are and love every minute of it!” So, who is Paulie Gibson?
Paulie Gibson is creative, passionate, driven and original. He knows what he wants and pursues it. He comes from a place of creativity and self-expression in fashion that seems to be ingrained as only a feminine thing, you know, “guys don’t do that”—certainly not in the Midwest. But it’s 2013 and it’s okay to be expressive in your apparel—it’s yet another way to have fun. People are free to be who they want to be.
You write that the inspiration for every Paulie creation is the contradiction between masculine and feminine. What does that mean?
I grew up with a fashionable mother who attended a lot of social events and parties. I was always fascinated by her transformation for these events. I always touched her clothes, and I liked the fabrics that felt nice. And I wondered why those fabrics—the feel-good fabrics—were reserved for women. As a designer I make clothes for men like button-down shirts, but I use chiffon, rayon and silk or a stretch fabric—the ones usually reserved for women. I just love the way things feel.
You also say that we might catch the juxtaposition of good and evil in your work. How do you define that line in fashion?
It’s like nice and naughty, tongue in cheek—wearable clothing that’s a little sexier than what you’re used to seeing. I grew up looking at Versace, sexy stuff, and there was no access to that kind of fashion in the Midwest. Still, I try to be realistic about what guys will wear. But, for example, the chiffon button down is see-through.
Your line for 2013 is called Tribe. What’s behind that?
I had great response to my L.A. shows, and I started getting some attention and notoriety for my brand. That made me feel confident, and also I finally found my people. So I was driving across country helping a friend move and I asked him what that means, what it’s called when you find the people that you belong to? He said, that’s your tribe. These are organic and natural designs—they come from my personal experience.
Clothes need to feel new. I’m not reinventing the wheel, but my fabrication and detail work make my clothes different. There’s no progression if we only offer what’s already available.
So what brings you to Knoxville?
I had big success in L.A. for my fall collection, Blueprint, but you have to get out and show your work. My aesthetic is unique—it’s not easy to come by. Guys who love clothes will like my style. So I find those guys and bring my fashion to them. When I was looking around I saw that one of the designers that I admire, Trevor Raines, had been to Knoxville. I thought that if Knoxville could handle Trevor, then they could handle me.
Is there anything else you’d like to say Knoxville?
Sure. Get ready to get Paulied!