A story 120 years in the making, Dorothy Gaspar, the designer of Gaspar Gloves, is a third generation glove maker from Hungary that has taken not only the fashion industry, but the entire entertainment industry, by storm. We were able to visit Gaspar's quaint studio, lined with movie posters, sketches for musicians and celebrities that fill her resume and learn about her incredible history, passion, and career that all revolves around…gloves.
Dorothy Gasper left Hungary when she turned 21 and moved to California to join her husband and business partner, Tibor Balazs. She moved to California for love not expecting to carry on her family’s legacy. “Never thought I would make or see another glove in California. I was born into it, when I left I thought ‘California, sun, no more gloves.’” What she did not anticipate was forging a connection with a 70-year-old German couple who - what else? - ran a glove making company that specialized in films. “It was a very charming shop just like my father’s, so it was amazing and we had a connection right away,” she tells us. “But all of the workers were old, so when they stopped working I took over everyone’s job. So we bought the business and I was finally able to do what I really like to do, design.”
And design she has. While gloves don’t typically seem like a relevant accessory, especially in this day and age, celebrities like Madonna, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and Miley Cyrus (ever heard of them?) disagree. “It used to be a very important part of accessorizing, and we have moved from that and everyone is wearing less instead of more, but I feel it’s coming back and it will be an important accessory [again]; it’s amazing for me.” As we look at current pop culture, you start to notice that gloves are making their comeback and in a huge way. Gaspar’s resume is extensive - custom making gloves for Madonna’s last three tours, helping solidify Lady Gaga’s style since 2008, starting Willow Smith’s career with her own pair. And that doesn’t even cover her gloves' breakout appearances on American Horror Story: Coven and The Hunger Games, among countless others. “Two years ago was a funny switch. I worked on AHS and the switch was, instead of me designing around the storyline, they used my design and used it for the storyline of the character,” Gaspar tells us. Another exciting moment was creating all of the gloves for Effie Trinket, played by Elizabeth Banks in The Hunger Games series. “When we did The Hunger Games and we did the gloves for Effie it was funny because before the movie I read the books with my son. In my mind I already had an idea. After that I came up with other stuff I thought would be the same story line; it was a fun job.”
After the film credits began rolling in, that trickle down affect is finally taking place. Tibor tells us, “we have more male customers than female, especially due to Drive with Ryan Gosling wearing our gloves. Ever since the movie came out we are selling that glove everyday, worldwide. And it’s guys, or women buying for guys.” Gaspar adds, “it became something completely different that guys really liked; it’s a lifestyle. We have customers from Italy, France, Australia, Canada, Japan, all over the world.”
With gloves making a comeback in the fashion world, Tibor notices, “it’s interesting how gloves are so central to pop culture, in editorials, you see the models wearing gloves left and right, but on the streets you don’t see them much.” While tastemakers and industry insiders have long noticed the power accessory, the masses are still playing catch up. But with major appearance on pop culture icons and some of the most important television and films of our time, it’s only a matter of time.
While Gaspar’s designs are more fashion forward and creative than even the most avant garde runway show, her techniques are still old school. The small studio in Eagle Rock is comprised of three people, Gaspar herself, Balazs and one assistant. Only these three people to provide the most impressive actors, directors, celebrities, and editors with enough gloves to outfit an army. Not only does her small team manage to create beautiful, intricate gloves in a days time if necessary, but they do so on “modern” sewing machines that are 60 years old, as well as PIQUE machines that are from the early 1900s. Even with all of the exciting experiences Gaspar has had, she still resorts to the traditional glove making techniques taught to her by her grandfather and father in Hungary.
Working with some of the most talented and influential people of our generation including famed costume designer, Lou Eyrich, has definitely contributed to Gaspar’s style and creative process. “The greatest thing is I am inspired and work with amazing people, it’s always fun to work with them because you get inspired and are more creative by working with them. There are a lot of great designers so to be working with them for 30 years now is amazing. Most of my new creations and my new designs are kind of what I’ve gotten from all these years working with people and learning and jumping from Sci-Fi to period styles. It opens your imagination because it is just unbelievable, you are not in a box anymore and you see things completely different. You see my designs and there is nothing ordinary.” Be on the lookout in nearly every magazine, every movie coming out, and every television series on air now (cough, cough, Scream Queens) and you’ll be sure to see one of Dorothy Gaspar’s creations. We can’t wait to see what’s next.
Find out more at gaspargloves.com
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By Mischa Teichgraeber