“Mr. Great” is the humorous alter-ego of Alexander Gurman, a producer who works with his wife, Lana. Together, the Gurman’s are reinventing the way that fashion shows, art exhibitions (and sales), and other creative endeavors are delivered to the public. Born in Ukraine and now living and working in New York City, Alexander and Lana are known for their fashion shows, video interviews, and photography with both emerging and established artists and models across a variety of spectrums. Their staple fashion line is “Glow-in-the-Dark Clothing” which modifies, repackages, and brands generic clothing with beads that respond to both black-lights and dark rooms.
When it comes to fashion, Alexander and Lana are open to working with “foundation” brands but then building upon them and offering fashions in “package” deals. For instance, instead of selling simply a swimsuit, they market it along with matching items such as hats, heels, and purses.
“The business concept is to search for the products that sell well in bulk and then buy in China a similar generic version of the product by pounds like fifty- cents per pound in large quantities and modify it with glow in the dark beads by local talent with various disabilities here in NYC,” Alexander explained in a recent and exclusive interview.
Alexander and Lana are happy to say that they employ many local workers (the majority of their workers live in Brooklyn) and they are very supportive of providing jobs with people who are struggling with medical issues.
“Most of our sawing talent usually has some kind of disability that prevents them from working for larger corporations and/or have some other sort of constraint that would not allow them to go to an actual workplace but they can work from home,” Alexander stated. “For example, many of our sawing talents are either pregnant or have many kids at home or are chair-bound, so we deliver to them our garments, beads, and other supplies like materials and they assemble it to their taste. Then we market, promote and sell the items and share profits. We also promote our items on social media and deal with marketing expenses. We want to provide labor for the people who would not be able to find jobs in the fashion industry otherwise.”
Alexander and Lana have an eye for talent; each of the designers that work for them–especially those who create the wedding gowns–create their own designs by hand. Their unique patterns and arrangements tend to sell well and have more resonance with the buyers than standard styles. Moreover, all of the items in the line–even the classy wedding dresses–include the fun glow-in-the-dark bead accents. The Glow-in-the-Dark fashion line has a winter collection, a wedding gown collection, a swimwear collection, as well as a lingerie line and a line of fancy evening gowns. There is also a collection of hats covered in beads and heels that also glow when the lights go down low.
Alexander and Lana frequently display their fashions via shows that they produce and they are a presence each year at New York City’s famed “Fashion Week.” Most of their sales take place online via Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Instagram, Facebook, and other websites. They also offer items at some boutiques in NYC, LA, Moscow, and Kiev…with plans to expand in the near future. As they continue their careers, Alexander and Lana are happy to nurture the career of budding designers and creative visionaries.
“We do have a few designers who are fashion school students and they need platforms to create and show off their work,” they stated. “We help young new designers to get more established. One of the first designers that we promoted was Katia Leonovich in 2004 and she is now quite an establish designer on her own! In the last few years we have collaborated with a number of designers, and some of them are now powerhouses in their own right.”
Fashion and style was always part of Alexander and Lana’s life. Alexander’s mother, Maya, owns a fashion store in Israel, and many of his relatives dressed well. Hailing from a prominent and wealthy family, Alexander was exposed to many kinds of art from early childhood which resulted in him acquiring a refined taste for beauty. His step-mother, Irina, established “A to Z Fashions” in 1999 after making custom-clothing for dogs and is currently regarded as one of the most fashionable real estate agents in NYC. She encouraged Alexander to enter the fashion industry, as did his mentor, the men’s designer Alan Flusher who created suites, shirts, ties, and shoes for Alexander and helped him to understand the fundamental concepts of style.
Photography is another interest of Alexander and Lana and they own and operate a photography and videography studio, mostly catering to weddings. The husband and wife are in friendship with fashion photographers such as David Berman and Udor, who helped them strengthen their photography skills which, in turn, increased their portfolio as a fashion stylist and producer. In 2017, the “Glow-in-the-Dark” fashion line evolved to be more of a family show where an entire “family” (aka models of different generations) are presented on one runway.
“When we show the runway we have grandparents, parents, and kids come as one group so we have a cohesive family look that is different from what you might normally see,” Alexander proclaimed. “We create each outfit to have an age-appropriate look but styles that connects families and resonate with each other. We believe in our brand that people are fashionable in varies age groups, sizes. So, whether a model is pregnant, or disabled, or older, or a non-standard size, it is the job of the designer and stylist to make them look good and to create something complementary. Cloth should be to draw attention to a person and make a person more interesting rather than being a conversation piece by itself.”
The “Gurman” brand has become synonymous with inclusion and innovative thinking. When they select their models, beauty is important but models with kind and human temperaments are strongly preferred over someone who is a diva. Most of the models that collaborate with Alexander are found via Facebook, Model Mayhem, YouTube, networking events, or via word-of-mouth. On the runway, each of Alexander’s models has a unique look and attitude since many are also working professionals; doctors, lawyers, and everything in-between.
Alexander and Lana have many excellent connections in and around NYC. They frequently film at BRIC Arts Media (www.bricartsmedia.org) in Brooklyn which provides plenty of free services and free perks. BRIC is part of the “Free Speech” movement that provide residents of NYC with free studio space and free equipment to use as well as free distribution platforms via Cablevision, Time Warner, and Verizon.
“There are other spaces like the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (http://www.mnn.org/)and similar ones in Queens and Bronx as well,” Alexander said. “I am a fully certified producer at BRIC, so we can book studio time for free and take valuable equipment and publish content that we want at various platforms. When we produce an event, many fellow producers come and cover our events with their own reporters and cameras. They get great content and can publish it on platforms like Amazon videos, HULU, and Netflix.”
Alexander also is one of the approved creators at famed YouTube Studio Space (https://www.youtube.com/yt/space/newyork/) in Manhattan, where he typically shoots at least once a month. The space offers incredible settings and enables users to record using high-quality and expensive equipment like Red Dragon cameras, proper light, proper sound, and an overall professional atmosphere. Alexander uses this space to record interviews and performances by emerging models, artists, writers, producers, and other creators and then publishes the videos on his YouTube channel which has tens of thousands of subscribers. In fact, he now films culinary-themed shows and content related to fitness and martial arts. Most excitingly, he is presently working on producing a show for children which will commence once permits and permissions are in order. He is likewise working on a series focusing on “Women in Comedy.”
Although Alexander and Lana are branching out more and more into visual and performing arts, they remain firmly rooted in the fashion industry. On December 28, 2017, they ended the year in style via an incredible display of fashions at the Sky Room in Manhattan (http://skyroomnyc.com/) which is directly connected to the Marriott Hotel.
“We have been blessed with many years of friendship with venues like Sky Room that allows us to produce our events the way we want to,” Alexander said. “The Lyndon and Manhattan Wine Group have been a kind facilitator over many years. The key in booking places like Sky room are to stay consistent, have a proper reputation, follow through on what you promise and deliver a great show. we also happen to be friends with Raj Uppal and other important entertainment powerhouses so, when those folks come to our events, we tell the audience they can meet these media moguls in person.”
The December 28 show at the Sky Room was notable for many reasons, but the most exciting aspect of the evening was that it was the debut of Alexander’s idea to blend performance art–namely, poetry–with modeling. Hence, on December 28 a poem called “Cloud Walker” was recited on the catwalk by model Audrey Kang to the delight of the packed venue.
“We want to bring more honor to fashion shows by adding performance art in them,” Alexander stated. “To my knowledge, no one else has done that before so it gives my brand something different, and unique, and odd, and fun…the audience at the Sky Room absolutely loved that the models can perform and speak. We hope to infuse poetry into my fashion shows much more in the near future.”
Alexander and Lana also offer opportunities for singers; a musical artist known as “Lady Barbara” performed at the Sky Room and Alexander and Lana plan to have her return for future events. Likewise, the Gurman’s plan to re-hire many of the same models who appeared at the Sky Room on December 28 such as Alena who is a poet and actress, Shaza who is an artist as well as a performer, and Audrey Kang who is a talented actress.
At the end of January, we will have a show which will feature more poetry and more models,” Alexander declared. “We plan to show our male fashion collection. Usually the audience is mostly made up of men watching gorgeous girls parade around on the stage, but this show will be the exact opposite–we will have a primarily female audience enjoying watching handsome male models modeling for them! We are also getting ready for Fashion Week in February with our new 2018 collections. We have a new collection of hats and sunglasses and a new bridal wear collection coming up.”
Alexander and Lana are actively in search of models, hair and makeup artists, and fashion designers to collaborate with. They are also looking for an additional DJ and MC for some of the fashion week events and they welcomes anyone who is interested in getting involved with the event via their organization to contact them directly.
“We also would like to add at least one more venue where we want to show our collection so if any of venue owners are reading this, or venue managers, or folks who know of a venue with a need for show, we would gladly talk and create together,” he stated.
Alexander and Lana are also busy working on the “Elopement Project” which is a way to produce a wedding or an event with only one–or very minimum–staff members. To render this service, Alexander and Lana collect the bride and groom in their SUV, take them to get their makeup and hair done, and then drive them to photoshoots and video-shoot locations, followed by taking the couple to a restaurant and provide entertainment on the way and back.
“Basically, we play the role of a wedding planner, chauffer, MC, DJ, photographer, filmmaker, makeup artist, and hair stylist all in one person,” Alexander explained. “This is one of the new trends that is popular with couples who want to save on staff and not have a large wedding. Many couples would rather have everything very private. For us, someone who produces large events, it is easy to arrange flowers and decorations and provide a full wedding experience with substantial savings and privacy considerations.”
Alexander and Lana Gurman are constantly seeking new ways to nurture the fashion, performance art, and visual arts communities and the people within it. The Gurman’s invite anyone who is interested in learning more to Google “Alexander Gurman” or “Mr. Great” and to contact them via their websites, Facebook, or other social media channels listed below.
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To learn more about Alexander Gurman and/or to inquire about collaborating with him, email him directly at MisterGreatProducer@gmail.com
To learn more about “Glow-in-the-Dark Fashions,” visit their Facebook page.