Gilbert goes glam, wins modeling contract | KUDOS

Karla Gilbert is one of maurices’ new models. - Michael Stadler photo
Karla Gilbert is one of maurices’ new models.
— image credit: Michael Stadler photo

Clinton native Karla Gilbert was selected as one of 12 models to represent maurices, a national clothing store chain with a store in Oak Harbor.

Gilbert was one of more than 500 contestants from across the country who vied for online votes to be among the final 20 models who attended a casting call in Minneapolis, Minn. A judging panel from maurices, along with celebrity judge and stylist Christopher Straub of Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” met each woman earlier this month to get to know her, and find out what makes her passionate about fashion and her hometown.

The panel then selected 12 winners who will each be featured in an upcoming fall, holiday or spring maurices ad campaign.

Gilbert was selected to model clothing for the holiday line. The photo shoot will take place in various Whidbey Island locations this fall, featuring landmarks and other attractions that make her community special. Gilbert suggested the ferry terminal, the Village by the Sea and Deception Pass as possible photo-shoot spots.

Each model will also receive $1,500 in maurices clothing, a Flip video camera to capture her path to becoming a maurices model and $7,500 to designate to a nonprofit organization in her community.

When the 26-year-old Gilbert spoke to the Record about her win, she was excited about the prospect of donating the cash to Ryan’s House, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing shelter for Whidbey teens who need it.

“Hopefully it will bring the story out about Ryan’s House and give them some attention for that cause,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert said that organizers of  Ryan’s House had just been given five acres on Swede Hill in Clinton.

“I’m hoping this $7,500 will help them jump start it,” she added.

Gilbert, who has signed on as a substitute teacher for the South Whidbey School District in September, is also a singer and theater actress and will open at San Diego’s Moonlight Amphitheater on July 20 playing the role of Lily St. Regis in the musical “Annie.”

In addition to modeling and winning prizes, Gilbert will become an ambassador of sorts for maurices.

“I’m very excited to do this,” Gilbert said, “I love their clothes. My mom and I love to shop at maurices in Oak Harbor.”

Gilbert also loves having her picture taken and has always had a passion for fashion and following the latest trends. Using her original sense of fashion, Gilbert makes and sells hand-crafted jewelry from beach glass she finds near her island hometown.

“We’re so grateful to the more than 500 women who participated in this contest, and we’re thrilled with our top 12,” said Brad Hartmann, maurices’ vice president of marketing. “maurices is all about bringing affordable fashion to small towns across the U.S., and this is a way for us to celebrate the women who love our clothes and our brand. We look forward to the photo shoots and experiencing each of these women’s hometown lives.”

The maurices crew will come to Whidbey sometime in August, at which time Gilbert will be able to present her contribution to Ryan’s House.

Ryan’s House was named after Ryan Busche of Olympia, who along with his wife Abby, died in his early 20s in the crash of an Alaska Airlines flight between Mexico and Seattle in 1999.

“Ryan was on the Alaska Airlines flight that my aunt was on,” Gilbert said.

“It was my mother’s sister. I feel a connection to Ryan’s House. I’m so glad I found a way I could contribute,” she said.

To see all 12 winning models, visit



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