Gary Markowitz is an artist based in Longmont, Colorado, and the creator of LillianB, an eco-conscious line of activewear.
HOW DID LILLIANB COME INTO BEING?
I moved to Hawaii and took up fine art drawing and painting in the late 80s, leaving a career in publishing behind. So it’s been over three decades that I have been in fine art. For me, the creative process needs to evolve and change in order to thrive, and so, turning my artwork into clothes felt like the next artistic evolution. I also love beauty and women’s fashion, especially after living in Barcelona and Paris for 14 years.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE HOW YOUR TIME IN EUROPE INFLUENCED YOUR DESIGNS FOR LILLIANB?
The works of great painters of Europe inspired me to push myself, be bolder, more daring and to explore different subjects. I absorbed my European experiences like osmosis then translated the feeling into my art and own language. I jokingly call it call it “Euro” because sometimes when I speak, I mix Spanish, French and Italian; I never got the language perfect. European culture breathes an artful life. The people, fashion, cuisine, architecture and fine art — the cities live with spirit. My unique colors — minimal, expressive, figurative — translate beautifully on to clothing.
DO YOU SEE A CONNECTION BETWEEN THAT ENERGY AND THE DECISION TO MAKE ACTIVEWEAR AND YOGA CLOTHES?
It was a natural fit. My decision was intuitive. I have learned to create from an emotionally intuitive state of being. There is a natural link between spirituality and art; activity, joy and self-awareness, so … yoga.
WHEN YOU DESCRIBE THE CLOTHES, YOU USE WORDS LIKE JOY AND FUN, CAN YOU TALK A BIT ABOUT YOUR HOPE FOR THE CLOTHES AND THE WAY THEY MAKE WOMEN FEEL?
Women have told me when they wear the clothes they feel special — like walking art — energized, confident and expressive. I would want everyone to feel like that in any clothes, and I am thrilled to create that feeling.
DO YOU THINK THERE IS A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOUR ART AND THE WAY WOMEN FEEL WHEN THEY WEAR LILLIANB?
Absolutely. I can see it in their expressions at first experience with the clothing, there is a vibrance, a light. People have always sensed a feminine energy in my paintings I think that energy translates to the clothing; I think the boldness of my work coupledwith the desire to create beauty evokes that feeling. That is what I believe art does best.
OBVIOUSLY, THE WAY WOMEN FEEL IN THE CLOTHES IS IMPORTANT TO YOU, CAN YOU EXPLAIN A BIT ABOUT THE FABRICS YOU CHOSE AND WHY?
The blend of fabrics was specifically designed for activewear — using technology to let the skin breathe and hold you in the right places, while allowing for movement. The clothes are made by hand in Canada, and it feels good to work with transparent supply chains and communities of artisans to deliver a high-quality product.
GIVEN THAT THE CLOTHES WERE INSPIRED BY A LOVE OF TRAVEL CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CHOICE TO USE ECO-CONSCIOUS FABRICS?
Obviously, I have a love and respect for this earth that drives my curiosity to seek out other cultures and environments. I truly believe we are all stewards of the planet and have an obligation to take care of it. Fashion is an industry with one of the biggest eco
footprints, for instance, it takes over 20,000 liters of water to make one pair of jeans. I knew I wanted to create clothes with the smallest ecological footprint possible that would be loved by their owners and worn for a long time. Honestly, it didn’t feel like a choice to use eco-conscious fabrics, to me, there was no other way.
LillianB is available in stores and online at www.lillianbfashions.com.
Photos by Aurore Rominger