The first time LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey ventured into the sparkle queendom, she ripped her blazer.
Glas didn’t know Mulkey would be wearing her product until she received a flood of messages during that December 2021 game.
“I was just like, ‘Wow,’” said Glas, 34, an LSU graduate and ardent Tigers fan. “That’s what opened my eyes to her as, ‘This woman is here. She’s not playing around.’”
Glas soon got a call from the owner of the local boutique where one of Mulkey’s staffers had selected the butterfly blazer for LSU’s flamboyant coach to wear.
Mulkey works the sideline like a tigress, and she had ripped the blazer, Glas was told. Could the legendary coach get another?
Oh, yes, Glas thought. There’s more where that butterfly blazer came from. Plenty more.
“That was her first step into the world of sparkles,” Glas told me this week. “She wore that, and from then, it was like, game on.”
Game on, indeed.
From butterflies to glitter and rhinestones to polka dots, Mulkey shimmers on the sideline. Most of her game-day outfits are from Glas’ clothing line.
Glas is a former Chevron petroleum engineer turned fashion entrepreneur. She’s one of two Baton Rouge fashionistas who are behind Mulkey’s threads that are turning heads throughout LSU’s run to the Final Four.
Three of Mulkey’s NCAA Tournament outfits were from Queen of Sparkles, including the white and green St. Patrick’s Day-inspired “Kiss Me I’m a Queen” sweater vest Mulkey confidently displayed during the first round, and the silver, sequined blazer she wore while dancing the Griddy after LSU beat Miami to advance to its first Final Four since 2008.
WINNING IN SEQUINS:Mulkey sideline fit includes shiny, sparkling jacket
And how about that patterned jacket featuring hot-pink feathers down the sleeves that Mulkey wore during the Sweet 16?
That unique piece came from Martha Gottwald, 32, the creative director and founder of Neubyrne, a high-end fashion brand marked by bold styles and vibrant colors. Gottwald created the feathered jacket in 2020, intending it for a runway show. COVID interfered, and the jacket wound up in Gottwald’s private studio until Mulkey donned the feathers for one of her most shocking sideline looks ever.
“She looked incredible in it,” Gottwald said. “I like a piece that people either are obsessed with or they cannot stand, and I think I did my job.
“Turning heads is a good thing – always.”
Mulkey marches to the beat of that drum.
The three-time national champion coach attracted eyeballs with her bright attire as Baylor’s coach, but Mulkey’s sideline ensembles reached a sizzle after she returned to coach in her home state.
“Look, we’re from Louisiana. We like sparkles, we like diamonds, we like Mardi Gras, we like to eat, and we like to party,” Mulkey said.
Mulkey’s attire for Friday’s Final Four game against Virginia Tech remains a mystery. Never knowing what she’ll emerge wearing is part of the fun.
How Queen of Sparkles Jaime Glas went from oil to game-day fashion
Glas’ pivot into fashion started out of need. At Chevron, she was required to wear a flame-resistant jumpsuit in the oil fields. She found that there were no jumpsuits made for women, though, and the men’s small swallowed her up. She gained approval from her boss to make her own jumpsuit.
Glas received a sewing machine for Christmas while in high school, and she sewed her senior prom dress. But until her job at Chevron, fashion had been a hobby, never her intended career. Her original jumpsuit was purple – “Go Tigers,” she says – and it became a hit with other women in her field. She launched HauteWork to sell her jumpsuits, and National Safety Apparel acquired the brand in 2019.
By then, Glas had left engineering to make fashion her career. Back in Baton Rouge, she launched Queen of Sparkles in 2021.
Glas’ attraction toward sparkly attire traces to her dance background. If you’ve ever attended a dance recital, you’re familiar with the flashy outfits.
Unlike those old dance outfits, though, Glas wanted her clothing line to be comfortable. While Queen of Sparkles sells a variety of clothing, its centers on elevated looks and embellished athleisure that aligns with Glas’ passion for looking good on LSU game days.
As a plugged-in fan, Glas was excited about the possibility of Mulkey jumpstarting LSU’s program. But, Glas never thought about clothing Mulkey until she received a flood of messages during LSU’s game against Iowa State last season, after Mulkey donned the butterfly blazer.
Unbeknownst to Glas, Jennifer Roberts, LSU’s fashion-forward director of player personnel and influence, spotted the blazer at Rodéo Boutique in Baton Rouge and thought it would be a hit with Mulkey.
Mulkey paired the blazer with bright yellow heels. She pumped her fist and waved her arms on the sideline – ripping the blazer along the way – as the Tigers beat the Cyclones, their first win over a ranked opponent under Mulkey.
Mulkey’s Tigers were ready to sparkle, and Glas seized the moment.
“I was like, ‘Oh, if she’s willing to wear this, we can put her in some really cool stuff,'” Glas said. “It’s just gotten better and better.”
Glas estimates that about 75% of Mulkey’s game-day attire this season has been Queen of Sparkles. The butterfly blazer, which Glas re-released in other colors, reigns as one of her favorites, along with the glitter and rhinestone blue jacket Mulkey wore in the SEC Tournament.
Glas never knows what Mulkey will wear. The “Kiss Me I’m a Queen” sweater vest caught Glas by surprise.
“I almost took that as her trying to give us a little nod,” Glas said.
Mulkey name-dropped Queen of Sparkles when she was asked about the sweater during her postgame news conference.
“I really like having someone like her who is so accomplished, so hard-working, so true to herself and this independent force, and she’s big into helping other women – that is the best kind of person you want to be rocking your stuff,” Glas said. “I love it.”
From playing in pigtails to donning Neubyrne’s feathers
When Mulkey slips out of her high heels, she stands 5 feet, 4 inches. She’s a giant in her sport.
Mulkey’s .860 career winning percentage trails only UConn’s Geno Auriemma and former Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore for all-time winning percentage among Division I women’s basketball coaches with at least 500 victories.
As a player, she was a button of a point guard from Tickfaw, Louisiana, a fierce competitor who wore her hair in French braided pigtails. During an international tour with Team USA in 1982, Mulkey tried to take a charge on the Soviet Union’s 7-footer Uliana Semenova. The collision sent both players crashing to the floor. No foul was called, but Mulkey later told a sportswriter that “it was still a great feeling.” She won a national championship with Louisiana Tech and a gold medal on Pat Summitt’s 1984 Olympics team.
Clothes have always been important to Mulkey, she said recently, but she credits her stylists for her evolved look at LSU.
This audacious and accomplished coach is willing to wear just about anything – including a jacket fringed in pink feathers.
“When you wear Neubyrne, you just get noticed,” Gottwald said. “You have this energy about you.”
Gottwald knew she wanted to work in fashion while a student at Sewanee, and her passion accelerated after studying abroad her junior year in Paris and experiencing Paris Fashion Week.
Gottwald moved back to Baton Rouge last winter. She lives in Mulkey’s neighborhood, but they didn’t meet until recently. Gottwald knows Mulkey’s makeup artist, Morgan Honore LeBlanc, and Gottwald bumped into her outside Mulkey’s house. That led to LeBlanc and Roberts viewing Gottwald’s studio, where they spotted the feathered jacket.
“They were like, ‘Oh my god, this. Kim has to wear this,’” Gottwald said. “I was like, ‘Hell yeah she does.’ That’s the kind of stuff that I make. I love a mic-drop piece.”
While the internet smolders in opinions on Mulkey’s uninhibited attire, the Tigers and their coach remain unflappable in the NCAA Tournament as they win with flair.
As it says on the Queen of Sparkles’ Instagram: Life’s too short to wear boring clothes.
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