By Roxanne Avery
Living in a rural setting exposes people to textures of small-town life, big open spaces and non-complexities allow for the flow of creative energy. Growing up in Hartshorne, Oklahoma (between Wilburton and McAlester), Grant Mathiews knew all the areas of Gowen Mountain, the property his dad was raised on and eventually purchased for his family. It may have been the clean southeast Oklahoma air or it may have been a TV show, but somehow as a pre-teen in the mid-80s, Grant experienced a moment of vision of his future adult self.
Recently named one of 11 “People with Style” by Oklahoma magazine, Grant is known for his eclectic style, especially utilizing his many different furs. He fondly remembers watching an episode of Dallas, the hit TV show starring J.R. Ewing and family. “I wasn’t even a teenager yet and saw Bobby Ewing, and I saw him wearing a fur I thought, ‘When I’m older, I’m going to do that.’ Even as a young kid, I had a vision of how I wanted to look,” Grant said.
But Grant’s fashion sense didn’t come out of nowhere. With his down-to-earth personality, he explains, “I have a classy Italian mother who knew style and what was what as far as fashion. My father wasn’t born with a silver spoon so I had a good balance of being raised cosmopolitanly (a “Grant word”) in a rural setting.” A 1990 graduate of Wilburton High School, Grant moved to Oklahoma City where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design and advertising from Oklahoma City University. “I graduated about the time computers were becoming a huge part of graphic design and advertising, and I knew I didn’t want to sit behind a computer all day stifling my creativity. I was into interior design and after graduation was hired by Cunningham Interiors.”
Blossoming later in life rather than earlier, Grant said, “I just came into my own one day when I woke up and thought, ‘Screw all this (insert dirty word) I’m doing. I’m just going to be who I am.’ Once that happened, everything fell into place. It was really like a ‘do or die’ moment and I knew I wasn’t old yet so I had to find out what would make me the happiest.” In the process of clearing his mind, Grant became available for positive energy, and after working six years for someone else, he ventured out and opened Grant Design.
Not following trends in fashion or interior design, Grant says, “That is just boring. I tend to take more chances with my presentation than most people.” With most of Grant’s clothes custom-made, he likes a good custom fit. “Whether a person is in shape or out of shape, it really doesn’t matter. When clothes fit perfectly, it is a good look. Custom is the way to go.”
“There are hints about who Grant is in what he wears,” says John Kimbrell, a good friend of Grant’s. “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and Grant does that very well.”
Of all the fun clothes and accessories in Grant’s closet, his favorite are puffy jackets. “I like a good puffy jacket,” he said. “I think my cheapest one was eight dollars on clearance at H&M and I have one from Fendi I’m not even going to tell you what I paid. I have quite a collection. I like the fit so these are a staple in my wardrobe. But I also like my suits and furs. I guess you can say I’m a collector of clothes so I can’t just narrow it down to one specific thing.”
A self-described fraternity boy living in a grown man’s body, Grant says he is crazy for sunglasses. And not the $12 pair. “I love my sunglasses. I have to have good sunglasses. And I love shoes,” he said. The majority of Grant’s shoes are custom-made or high-end Fendi, Louis Vuitton or Valentino. And he loves the masculine look of the black and brown leather in the Macassar collection of Louis Vuitton bags which is not your typical Louis Vuitton.
Not taking things in life seriously (in a good way), Grant says he just doesn’t sweat the small stuff. When asked what he will be sporting this spring season, he says he is an eternal fan of the tank top. “I’m never going to lose my staple. I like a nice tank top and have since I was 6 or 7 years old,” he said. “Plus, I’m a lake guy.” Grant predicts a continuation of tank tops and casual wear that’s being worn today.
But of all the seasons, winter is Grant’s favorite. “I like to dress well and wear layers.” Grant says he thinks fashion has fizzled out. “We’re repeating so many things from the past, but unless someone comes up with something different, we’re just going to keep doing what we’ve doing. Fashion, unfortunately, is in that same shape -that’s why I don’t pay attention to mainstream trends,” he said.
With Oklahoma City University being home to a long bloodline of talent and style with graduates who have gone on to become Miss Americas and Broadway musical stars, Grant is getting back into the performing arts himself. With a one-man show, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” Grant will be performing at the Will Rogers Theater on March 4. “I’m doing it just because I want to. I left performing many years ago, so I thought this would be something I could have fun with,” he said.
Reminiscing about life, Grant said, “I can’t believe I’ve been doing interior design work on my own for 14 years. It’s been quite the journey. I never really realize what I’ve done and what I’ve gone through until I sit down and talk about it. And I’m blessed. I don’t take all that for granted. Sending positive energy out brings positive energy in. You can’t sit around hating everything and expect to be given better opportunities without giving them out as well.” Words of wisdom. Must be from breathing in all that good Gowen Mountain air.