When fashion becomes art

Fashion and art have paradoxically a complicated yet simple relationship. Could be fashion considered art? The nature of its relationship has been questioned many times, and opinions still differ. Yet without a clear answer to this sensitive issue, we have found the Spanish designer who literally makes fashion art.

Arena Martínez, the talent behind her eponymous brand, has recently launched “Serendipia”; a colourful and delicate collection of reversible kimonos that represent artworks in her designs and, as she says, “brings art to another dimension”. Martínez wanted to integrate her two passions –art and fashion– into one single and inseparable concept in which the dialogue between the artist and the designer “clashes and connects” equally. The idea is that each collection pays tribute to one of her favourite artists, whose artworks are the motif, and the kimonos work as canvas. This way, the Spanish designer honours their pieces at the same time that she creates a long-lasting relation between fashion and art.

Kimono: Arena Martínez | Photography: Claudia Peris | Model: Claudia Peris

This concept was clearly patent in the presentation of the brand, where the models that wore her designs came to life and walked around the location, making fashion and art more alive than ever. These fashion-forward, original and bold ideas definitely surprised the attendees, who enjoyed a performance we are not very used to here in Spain. And this is not that we are unaware of the latest trends in fashion, but sometimes we are a bit reticent to show our craziest and most creative ideas, even if they are great.

Kimono: Arena Martínez | Photography: Claudia Peris | Model: Lucía H. Peris

Having a young designer bringing to the table daring ideas is a breadth of fresh air for the Spanish fashion industry. But Arena Martínez is no strange to avant-garde movements and fashion-forward ideas at all. Raised in a family of artists, she has breathed art from a very young age. Her education and international background definitely is playing a fundamental role in her work as a designer. She has lived abroad 13 years (keep in mind that she is only 24), visited different and far-away countries, and studied in prestigious schools like Central Saint Martins in London. It was during her university years when the idea of creating her own brand started to take shape, although it wasn’t until Dubai when this adventure really kicked off. Following her passion for contemporary art, Martínez landed in that city and surprisingly ended up coming across the perfect product for her future brand: the kimono.

Kimono: Arena Martínez | Photography: Claudia Peris | Models: Claudia and Lucía H. Peris

Currently based in Madrid, where she works surrounded by her art collection, the Spanish designer couldn’t be happier of being back home. You can tell that Martínez enjoys every bit of her job, in particular seeing her thoughts taking form in her designs.

However, she is also aware of the difficulties her brand may face here in Spain because she admits Spanish fashion is “less bold”, and that’s why her target audience is international and willing to purchase online.

Nonetheless, it seems that we are witnessing a shift in the traditional Spanish style, advocating now for more arresting looks. Everything seems to indicate that in the near future we will probably see more of the “daring, cosmopolitan, confident and contemporary woman” Arena Martínez artistically designs for, making fashion art.

Kimono: Arena Martínez | Photography: Claudia Peris | Models: Claudia and Lucía H. Peris

María Magdalena; Subversive Fashion With Spanish Flavor

Designer Alejandra Jaime Mendoza | Credit: María Magdalena

“Symbolic, metaphoric, surrealistic, and subversive” — that’s how Alejandra Jaime Mendoza the Spanish designer behind María Magdalena of the controversial name describes the essence of her brand. Only two seasons into hitting the catwalk of the main events for emerging fashion designers in Spain, Mendoza’s understanding of fashion is already making headlines.

Mendoza has recently showed her second collection for Samsung EGO, the platform dedicated exclusively to emerging talents during Madrid Fashion Week. María Magdalena added that Spanish flavor to the event with ruffles and silhouettes that resemble those of the traditional ‘Sevillana.’ Baroque-inspired pieces like silky dolly dresses with puffed sleeves, shiny fabrics, and metallic sets contrasted with hoodies and fishnet tights, exhibiting the clash of cultures that inspired her collection Integration.

Credit: María Magdalena

The concept goes back to the 2000s in Seville when two social groups with different styles were in opposition. Mendoza wanted to highlight the importance of integration in today’s society, so she took details of both styles and fused them to create a single and unique collection. “I love to make an impact on my audience, to make people have fun, but also to make them think about the issue I’m talking about,” she explains.

Mendoza says that she always works from an idea that she wants to transmit — something that she has the need to share with other people. That’s why there is always a powerful symbolic meaning behind her collection. Even the name of her brand, María Magdalena, which doesn’t go unnoticed, has a connotation.

María Magdalena represents to me the role that unfortunately has been attributed to women over the years in the sense that she has always been in inequality in relation to men,” Mendoza explains. The designer wanted to shed some light on the figure of the woman, letting her have the position she deserves: equal to men.

Credit: María Magdalena

Fashion acts for Mendoza as a platform to channel her inner world and discuss social issues along with psychological and philosophical matters. “My goal is to create useful things for society as well,” the designer explains.

When she has the concept in mind, Mendoza develops it and tries to find a way to translate it aesthetically into draws and fabrics. In fact, materializing the idea is her favourite part of the whole design process. The worst bit? Promotion. But that’s just because, contrary to what you may think, Alejandra Jaime Mendoza is a very shy person. However, she is slowly coming to terms with being in the spotlight from time to time.

“Integration”; the latest collection of María Magdalena | Credit: María Magdalena

Before tapping into fashion design, she studied at a law school for two years to later realize that it wasn’t for her. She decided to change the course of her life and enrolled in Design and Fashion Management at CEADE. It was there that Mendoza found her powerful creative side and focused more on design.

Today, at only 26 years old with a lot of stories, experiences, and anecdotes, Alejandra Jaime Menzoda has her feet on the ground and loves to share her achievements with her team and friends who always support her and make her fight for her dreams as the talent behind María Magdalena.

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The fashionable life of an emerging designer: Aarón Fernández

Close your eyes. Now, picture a fashion influencer. Do you have it?

The first image that probably comes to your mind is an elegantly dressed girl, ready to capture her daily outfits with a camera on hand — guilty! But the term applies to a wide range of new and very different talents that are reshaping the fashion industry. And men are proving that they know one or two things about style.

This is the case for Spanish influencer, Aarón Fernández, whose hipster-inspired personal style is taking Instagram by storm. He has more than 35,000 followers who keep track of his daily adventures on both social media and his personal blog “AF Fashion Blog”. But there is much more than just buzz about this emerging social media sensation.

Credit: Aarón Fernández

His journey in the fashion industry dates back to 2009. As a child, he showed talent for drawing and, though his drafts were more about furniture and buildings, time would prove that he had a gift that would later translate to designing womenswear.

Since his start, Fernández has created beautiful and elegant pieces that reinvent classic designs in a sophisticated way. In 2013, and after having worked on several collections and having perfected his sewing skills, this emerging designer embarked on the adventure of creating his own brand. He needed to channel his inner world, because, as Fernández says, “design is pure art. It comes from your personal thoughts and tastes.”

Credit: Aarón Fernández and Matthew Lauren Photography

It was a huge challenge because he was still a student, but he says he “couldn’t wait any longer” to show his most personal creations to the world. The risk and effort have paid off. Fernández, who is from a small city in the east of Spain, Alcoy, received a lot of orders from private clients, and his talent was soon spotted by some members of the industry. He recalls a time when a client walked in a room wearing one of his dresses “and the audience fell silent because she was radiant.” I’m sure there is little to rival such an indescribable emotion he must have felt.

Following his success as a designer, Fernández got invited to fashion shows, parties, and magazines; all exciting projects and memorable experiences that he shared with his social media followers. These stories caught the attention of a lot of Instagram users, and attracted thousands of others who wanted to know more about the ins and outs of the life of an emerging fashion designer.

Four years after the launch of his brand, and after the unstoppable growth of his Instagram family, Fernández’s main resolution for 2017 is focusing more on his profile as influencer because what one can communicate on Instagram has completely captivated him: “[you] can show a picture in a poetic way.”

Credit: Aarón Fernández

If you scroll down his profile — @aaronfernandezmoda — you will see “the fashionable life of an emerging designer.” A cascade of pictures shows his different roles — from the designer, who works on the last details of a dress minutes before a fashion show, to his latest #ootd dose of inspiration.

His personal style is elegant and classic, and maintains the balance between sports-inspired looks and tailoring. He loves trends and makes them his own, “always adding a bold piece or accessory, and never really thinking about what others might think.”

Maybe that’s the key to his success — confidence and passion in every project he embarks on. What you can’t doubt when you talk with Fernández is that, although juggling all these roles must be difficult, he loves fashion and enjoys every step of the journey that will take him very far.

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One To Watch: Coelh, Spanish Handmade Jewelry

Spanish fashion is undergoing a great transformation thanks to a new generation of fashion designers who are reshaping the industry with their new, fresh ideas and their use of social media platforms.

One such designer is Alba García, the talent behind Coelh, a jewelry brand that merges tradition and new technologies — the past and the — under one name.

Credit: Claudia Peris
Credit: Claudia Peris

I met Alba at one of the coolest rooftop terraces in Madrid, Hotel de las Letras. There was not a cloud in the sky and the bright sun made her jewelry pieces even more beautiful, if that’s possible.

She laid on the wooden table different silver rings with little stones in colors that range from light blue to black, as well as necklaces and earrings. “Everything is handmade,” Alba said; from the creative process to the production, Coelh does it in-house. Though it takes up most her free time, Alba enjoys the process because jewlery has always been her passion.

Coelh pic 2
Credit: Coelh

As a child, Alba made her very first pieces out of beads and she would later sell them to family and friends. “It’s always been a hobby,” she told me, “but I’ve always had this business mind.” And it was this mentality and her contagious positive attitude that led her to join a jewelry course two years ago in order to learn the ins and outs of the industry.

In April 2016, she finally decided to set up her very own brand, Coelh. She manages to juggle the full-time job with her university studies in Business and Marketing. “The beginnings are always difficult but you are learning the ropes of the industry step by step.”

Credit: Claudia Peris

Alba works in a little but well-equipped workshop in the center of Madrid. Coelh requires a huge amount of dedication and personal sacrifice because she makes everything by herself with a little help from family and friends from time to time. “I need a week to make one of my jewels,” she explained. But the wait is totally worth it — every piece exudes sophistication. “Jewels say a lot about us,” Alba said — from the way we wear them, to the design we choose, and the quality of the pieces. That’s why, for her, materials are as important as beautiful designs are. “I aim tow ork with the best materials,” she explains, which is something that her clients love.

Despite its small scale, Coelh is growing fast and is already becoming a profitable business. Alba has tapped into the fascinating world of fashion bloggers and influencers with great success and today, she counts on a crew of collaborators and followers who showcase her pieces on their blogs and social media platforms. This is where the Coelh’s traditional concept of jewelry meets modern marketing platforms and gives us a glimpse into the future of the industry.

Credit: Coelh
Credit: Coelh

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Vancouver Fashion Week Shining Light on Emerging Designers

Even though all the international fashion weeks around the globe have closed their curtains and dimmed their catwalks, the fashion, and street styles of Paris, London and Milan, can be seen in smaller cities such as Toronto and Vancouver as they gear up for their own fashion week. Running the same week as Toronto Fashion Week, Vancouver Fashion Week opens its doors from March 14th to March 20th. A whole six days of fashion, art, and overall culture will be showcased with 91 designers showing their collections.


Having no shortage of what to expect next with the coming days, Vancouver Fashion Week aims to bring not only diversity to the runway, but also shine light on emerging designers and propel them into the industry with knowledge, skills, and experience of running and showcasing a major fashion show. Along with highlighting up and comers, Vancouver Fashion Week also wants to shine light on the city and their fashion scene. Although known for their picturesque scenery and avid wildlife, Vancouver aims to catapult their image to be seen as one of the major fashion capitols of the country, and push style and uniqueness upon fashion goers during the fashion week seasons.

Yahel Waisman

It may be looked down upon, at least in the fashion industry, to have so many designers show during the course of one week. But the reality is, it’s best to show as much homegrown talent you possibly can under one roof so many can see the talent that is within their city. And with often times designers showing their collections offsite, and having scheduling conflicts of having shows happen at the same time in different locations, it is best to have all designers under one roof to be seen by all and not have the feeling of missing out on a potential collection and designer that could be the new staple in your wardrobe.

Oscar Mendoza. Photo Credit: Dominic Manea

Whether you’re looking for a statement jacket to go along with that super-chic pencil skirt, or the right collared shirt to be paired with those new pair of slacks, Vancouver Fashion Week has a designer showing during the week that will sure cater to your needs.

Dominique Ansari

For live streams of the shows, and event information, be sure to check out Vancouver Fashion Weeks website for updates and pictures. http://vanfashionweek.com/designers/