How did you become interested in fashion? Who are some of your inspirations and mentors?
They say that whatever you want to be when you are seven or eight years old is your heart’s true vocation. I developed a fashion magazine and catalog at this age called “Radical Magazine”! A year later I rebranded to call it “Our Style,” with a logo that had a little pink bow! My Granma Lillie taught me how to hand sew, but aside from always loving to play dress up, I forgot all about that as moved on…
I studied theatre, art, and dance at Northwestern University, where I started costume designing for plays and music videos. These projects taught me to design and sew on the fly: in each project, I would have $200 to create 25 costumes according to the director’s vision and the character’s personality and maybe three weeks to do it on top of my course work. I did 2-3 of these projects every 10 weeks. My senior year I was given the honor of designing a Main stage production, which was “Footloose,” that had 300 costumes in it.
After graduation, I moved to New York City to work on *Law & Order*, but in my spare time I went to see a band called The String Cheese Incident play all over the country. I would make my own little sparkly outfits to wear at these shows. People started asking me to make them clothing, and Lily Guilder was born.
My mom pulled out those old hand drawn magazines after I started making clothing as an adult. Since I did not actually go to fashion school, I studied the biographies and work of the greats. I’ve been inspired by Coco Chanel, Yves St Laurent, Alexander McQueen, and Roberto Cavalli.
How would you describe your style?
If you crossed a lion with a peacock and they got dressed up to go to a Great Gatsby party at a discotheque on Planet Barbarella, that is Lily Guilder. (Have you ever heard of Burning Man?)
Lily Guilder Design is for anyone who wishes to channel their inner Rock Star/Glamour Queen/Superhero/Dapper Dude/Iconoclastic self. The collection is comprised of limited-edition, ready-to-wear, and one-of-a-kind/custom-designed garments all created in Nashville. Designer Caitlin Stolley believes in the transformative power of clothing and uses fabric texture, layering and a variety of embellishment techniques to create garments with enhanced dimension, vibration, and danceability, each piece sprinkled with magic.
Who are some Nashville-based fashion leaders who have been influential in your work?
My Mom sent me an article about Manuel when I started designing coats after my first Burning Man event in 2004. I admire the character and bright color of his work. I love the spirit of creative collaboration in Nashville. I frequently dress local musicians for stage and photoshoots.
Have you worked with LGBT community clients, and how does that fit with your work?
Many of my ready to wear clothing styles can be worn fluidly by any gender, and the bulk of my business is custom design commissions. In the last year, I have helped some trans friends find their fashion voice, in a safe space, by working one-on-one to create some looks.
Coming from a theatre and dance background, I have been working with and dressing bodies that move. No matter which way these bodies identify themselves, it is my mission to make sure they move with ease and confidence. When people put on a Lily Guilder garment, they automatically stand up taller and smile, it’s why I do this.
For more on Caitlin Stolley and her brand, check out her social media at:
· Website: https://lilyguilderdesign.com
· Instagram: @lilyguilder
· Facebook: @lilyguilder
· Twitter: @thelilyguilder