LA based couture designer Gilbert Chagoury has decided to add to his already very heavily laced and beaded plate by presenting his first ready-to-wear collection. Gilbert Chagoury is known for his incredible attention to detail and creating some of the most beautiful cotoure “princess” gowns in the fashion world. We’re thrilled that Chagoury has decided to launch a chic and accessible collection where the #chagourygirl can take the famous fashion label from day to night, no gown necessary.
We had the incredibly fortunate opportunity to sit down with Gilbert at his Melrose store and chat a bit about the new collection, life in LA, and what makes Gilbert tick. Read the interview:
So you’ve been designing couture dream gowns for women for quite some time, what made you decide to add a ready-to-wear collection to your plate?
Gilbert: Todays woman does not wear couture on a daily basis, and as much as I love creating beautiful princess dresses, I want to be able to reach out to more people, so that’s why I decided to start the ready-to-wear collection. What I love (having started in the couture world) is even though it’s ready-to-wear and you can buy the pieces in whatever size fits, I still try to think more-so about the woman’s body, not just the style.
Your love for the “ultra feminine elements”, as I’ll call them, like lace and chiffon are evident in the creation of your gowns, but with the ready-to-wear line would you say you were drawn to any other fabrics or design elements?
Gilbert: not really, lace will always be part of my designs, lace is my big thing, and there will never be a Chagoury collection without lace. In the ready-to-wear collection I’ve been using more of a crêpe-y fabric to make it easy and durable; so that’s the big difference between my ready-to-wear and my couture. It’s a mix of fabrics [bengaline for example]. It’s not just silk so it can be handwashed and easily dry cleaned.
You’ve gone from Lebanon, to Paris, to New York, to LA… how did you end up in LA and are you planning on staying here?
Gilbert: I’m not leaving any time soon [laughs], I think I’m really happy and settled here – my life is in LA. I was actually born in Lebanon, but my family was based in Africa. When I was 3-4 years old though, I started to have health issues so my parents decided that my mom and the kids would move to Paris to be able to see doctors. My dad would commute between Africa and Paris while I was growing up and then one summer, when I was 10 years old, my parents came to LA for a wedding. At that time it was full blown war in Lebanon so we stopped going to Lebanon for vacation. LA reminded them of Lebanon so they decided to buy a home here and start spending summers here. Growing up all of my siblings loved LA, and I was more set on going to New York. So they all came to college here, I went to college in New York, but 6 years ago I spent a summer here with my parents and never left. It was the best decision I made in my life.
sooo you’re staying…
Gilbert: I’m staying [laughs]. LA is so fantastic in so many ways, and not just the weather; everything is easy, (when you’re lucky to find the right people) the people are nice, and it’s a happy place – you wake up with a smile.
So where, besides LA of course, is your favorite place in the world to be.
Gilbert: my favorite getaway is Greece. We only take one big trip a year, and where ever we decide to go we have to stop for a few days in Mykonos. That’s where we go to recharge; it’s gorgeous. And you have everything: you have the fun party scene, the great restaurants, the beautiful beaches, and you have a little bit of everything for everyone with an amazing setting.
Do you find that Mykonos has crept into your inspiration for any of your collections or is it simply a place where you get away.
Gilbert: It’s a getaway. It’s somewhere I go to recharge. When I need to take trips for inspiration I usally like to go to a more city-like setting – I go to museums, I take a look at architecture [etc.]. But since I’ve been living here, I’ve been influenced a lot by the LA style too. Not street wear, but when I’ll be working on a Winter collection [for example] it will still have a Resort wear influence because of the weather here, so LA influences me a lot in that way.
Where is your favorite place in LA to be?
Gilbert: I love being at Chagoury, I love to be at home, but I’m the kind of person who needs to go out and discover new places. My new favorite place (that I cannot believe I hadn’t discovered until this past summer) is Paradise Cove – we’ll just go to the private beach and it is so nice, you don’t feel like you’re in LA.
I have this thing I like to call the “small happy”, sometimes it’s the day-to-day little things that make life easier. We know that your love for Chagoury and designing for women is the “big happy”, but what are your little ones?
Gilbert: I have plenty of “small happies”: spending time with my family, a nice dinner with friends, coffee in the morning at Alfreds [a coffee shop close to Chagoury], being with my fiancé, leaving work and going to the gym, cooking at home, and bags. [laughs]. Someday I want to design a Chagoury bag line.
Besides bags, which is a great answer by the way, what are some of your other guilty pleasures.
Gilbert: Between you and I my little is this teenage TV show called Switched At Birth, [laughs] and when I’m tired and I need to switch off my brain I’ll just put that on.
Speaking of forms of entertainment, what is your favorite book of all time.
Gilbert: It’s by this [Belgian] French Philosoph, his name is Eric Emmanuel Schmitt, and the name of the book is “When I was A Work of Art”. […] it’s the growth of going from beautiful to ugly – it’s a beautiful, beautiful book.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten and from who.
Gilbert: From my Dad. Growing up he always used to say “speaking is silver and silence is gold. Think before talking.” My dad is a man of a few words, so when he has something to say, it resonates. I take that advice as, instead of trying to fill up the space, silence is not a problem.
Well I know that saying all too well, not sure is has fully resonated with me yet but that’s certainly great advice. Well that’s it for us, remind our viewers, we can now find the latest Chagoury ready-to-wear pieces at SCOOP correct?
Gilbert: Yes, we are shipping today (September 22nd), so it will be in store in the next few weeks. It’s the first store apart from mine that will be selling Chagoury, so it’s very exciting.
SCOOP is an awesome first venue to make the Chagoury ready-to-wear collection debut and very soon you will be able to get the pieces at SCOOP’s Beverly Hills location. SCOOP will be offering four Chagoury pieces total, two of which are featured in our “Part 2” post where we show you how we styled the classic black cut out dress and the fun black pleated skirt. STAY. TUNED.