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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Shirting The Issue: SUNAD, Slow Fashion Made In Spain

SUNAD | Credit : Rosa Copado

Monegros, Gobi, Kalahari — if you were good at geography in school or you simply are familiar with deserts, you probably recognize these names. But here we are talking about shirts. Paloma Canut and Ana Marroquín, the duo behind the emerging Spanish brand SUNAD, took their shared love of deserts and nature a step further to create a concept that is rocketing them to success. Here are 5 things you should know about SUNAD:

SHIRTS ONLY

The idea of a shirts-only brand, all named after deserts, came to their minds when they were having a hard time finding the perfect classic shirt. From that nostalgia, the duo behind SUNAD got down to business and developed a whole new concept that filled that market gap: timeless shirts made in Spain with only natural fabrics.

The designs of these ethically-made shirts evoke the desert, the dunes, the sun; their enigmatic color combinations and the quality of the materials produce a timeless and lasting shirt made with great detail.

Paloma and Ana have plans to expand their brand in the future — probably a men’s collection —, providing that every piece they make is related in some way to shirtmaking — the essence of SUNAD.

SUNAD | Credit : Rosa Copado

THE CONCEPT

SUNAD is like an oasis in this fast-paced fashion industry. It advocates a concept that’s become revolutionary today: slow fashion. “[It] was born out of nostalgia of those pieces of clothing that were worn back in the days. Good quality clothes that lasted years and years as the very first day; that were well crafted and never became outdated,” Paloma and Ana explain.

They were looking for those timeless pieces and never found anything that exactly followed that philosophy, so they set up their own brand. It was a brave move because embarking on this type of journey in Spain, where the financial crisis can still be felt, takes a lot of courage. But it paid off.

SUNAD | Credit: Rosa Copado

THE FOUNDERS

Before successfully venturing into the fashion industry, Paloma Canut was a concept and graphic designer and Ana Marroquín was working in the interior design business. “Although these two disciplines are very different, [we] have many things in common,” they say. In fact, their shared love of deserts and nature, as well as their work ethic, are at the core of their business.

When they launched SUNAD in August 2015, they decided to quit their jobs so they can focus full-time on getting their brand off the ground. Today, they continue working together hand in hand and both love “taking part in all the process.”

SUNAD | Credit : Rosa Copado

MADE IN SPAIN

SUNAD makes its shirts entirely in Madrid, Spain, where the entire process — from the creative idea to the actual product — takes place. It is a small brand that is growing fast. And although Ana and Paloma are happy and proud of being able to produce their shirts in Madrid, they are aware of the difficult task of introducing the concept of “slow fashion,” especially in Spain.

“Our product works better outside our frontiers. It is a pity that the ‘Made in Spain‘ concept is more valued outside our own country than here,” they say. However, they feel optimistic about the future and strive toward being a game changer. “We want this to change. We want people from all over the world to be aware of the slow fashion movement and value the quality and durability of the clothes as a justification for the price.” The shirts cost from 110€ to 140€.

SUNAD | Credit : Rosa Copado

THE NAME

As deserts are the starting point for their business and an endless source of inspiration for their shirts, the name, SUNAD, has also something to do with them. Ana and Paloma wanted their love for nature and deserts to be represented in some way in the name of the brand. They came up with the idea of making an anagram of dunas, dunes in Spanish, to create a new and unique brand — hence, the enigmatic and lyrical, SUNAD.

SUNAD | Credit : Rosa Copado

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