Hailing from The Bronx, Jerome Lamaar is unlike your average Maximalist fashion designer. Like many regardless of design approach, Lamar has worked his way up and paid his dues. When he was 18-years old, he landed a position as Senior Designer and Creative Brand Coordinator for Kimora Lee Simmon’s Baby Phat brand after spending his first three years there as an intern. Lamaar excelled in his field, taking strides from his innate design sensibility—an obvious gift that was noticed at such a young age, as well as his ability to not take anything for granted; to be highly astute of his environment. The budding designer then went on to hone his skills at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, where he pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design and Fabric Styling. The designer has since garnered praise from his peers—and a number of glamorous projects such as designing all the costumes for Mariah Carey’s 2006 tour. Lamar has also collaborated with established brands like Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Swarovski, Calvin Klein, Victoria Secret, Adidas, Nike, GAP, and Uniqlo.
Lamaar is a proud self-proclaimed “Style Monk,” and for good reason. While that title can technically fall under any fashion designer, what makes Lamaar worthy of its robes is his ability to offer a balance of style and well being, which he does under his own fashion label, 5:31 JÉRÔME. On one hand, you have his highly glamorous creations, on the other, a way of life. Upon meeting the man, you become a part of his ambience, his philosophies and beliefs. There’s much more to him than just “Maximalism and Street Glamour,” there’s an education on a new way of thinking—a “don’t take yourself for granted” approach that Lamaar uses himself to have accomplished the things he now has.
With that approach, he believes everyone has the innate ability to do anything they want. It’s believing that you have these abilities in the first place, and taking action that makes all the difference. “We are all designers, entrepreneurs and creative geniuses,” he said. “We’re writers, performers, scientists, you name it, but the difference is bringing yourself to a point where you’re granted that title by societal acknowledgment.” Which was the case for Lamaar when he was recruited at 23 as Trend Forecaster for Paris fashion forecast agency PROMOSTYL, followed by consultant for Armani two years later—where he cut his teeth at tailoring. While these milestones are clear signs of success, Lamaar always knew that he had it in him to offer the world of fashion his own take on maximalism.
Having grown up in the Bronx, a place where glitzy expression and glamour are by no means abundant, Lamaar was still able to flourish by his own initiative through surroundings that would in any other case hinder one’s success in the field of his aesthetic. An example of the potential of willpower, a state of mind he preaches at every chance. He now stands with his brand 5:31 JÉRÔME, which he launched in 2013, and his new retail space dubbed 9J, which officially opened just this past Spring. The space, located in South Bronx on Bruckner Boulevard, is home to glamorous womenswear—both street-inspired and maximalist—and is decorated with striking patterns against a clean-walled backdrop in a bid to accentuate all elements within the store. 9J is a reflection of Lamaar’s tastes, which seemingly run counter to the grittiness that’s long defined his borough. “There are no more spaces in New York where people, creative people, can just go and do amazing things. There’s definitely an audience out there for that,” he said. Lamaar uses bold details—embellishments including beads, jewels, fur, you name it. Along with traditional, Hollywood-esque sexy lines and silhouettes, and incorporates them in his nature-inspired designs—whether they’re part of a classy green robe, a purple dress, or a pair of denim pants. It’s a balance that few can successfully execute. Where does nature come in? Everywhere. It’s the driving force behind all of Lamaar’s designs because of the energy it gives him. That energy from his affinity towards the power of Mother Earth is harnessed and reinterpreted into seasonal collections.
While his label takes center stage within the space, 9J has also become a sanctuary for likeminded people that share in the lifestyle of Jerome Lamaar. A lifestyle that reflects just being who you are, stripped of fear of judgement, and kind in heart. As Lamaar put it, “just be nice in the most extreme way.” It’s hard to encapsulate all the philosophies and desires that the designer radiates as a person, but maybe it isn’t a good idea to put a cap on it. With the outpour of positivity from his way of thinking, the same prismatic energy can be seen in his designs: vibrant and over-the-top, yet beautiful and radiant. All this is done by him being fully aware of himself. Everything that Jerome does, be it the color scheme of his latest collection, or the conceptual basis of his retail store, all comes down to him being okay with simply being himself, knowing the situation you’re in, and seizing all opportunities. Lamaar said his key to building a successful fashion line is to be absolutely conscious of everything around him. “Knowing what you have will allow you to work with it to create stuff,” he explained. “That and meditation. That helps with putting your mind at a state where this is all easier.”
When in meditation, Lamaar focuses on elements that evoke a certain sensibility. “When I meditate deeply, I start to have visions,” he said. “I start seeing kaleidoscopic shapes and colors, and all these things have meaning to me.” Take the color green he uses within different patterns and designs, for example—a leaf motif on a dress or green Swarovski crystals on a pair of jeans. “Green is my favorite color,” Lamaar said. “To me, it represents being from the earth. It also represents intelligence and healing. You add that into something that’s sexy—all of my designs need to be sexy, of course—and that’s the attitude I want to give through my clothes. It has to have meaning, spiritual meaning.” Operating on his own wavelength, both creatively and spiritually, it’s exciting to see how far such high-level positivity in design and lifestyle can go. 5:31 JÉRÔME, in conjunction with his new store 9J, are just the beginning of a much nicer, greener way of life.
To see LaMaar’s latest work, follow him on Instagram @531jerome or visit www.531jerome.com.