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.

Continue following our fashion & lifestyle coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Ones to Watch: Madrid Fashion Week Emerging Designers

When we think about Spanish fashion, we can’t help but think about the golden times with Balenciaga. But time has passed and fashion in Spain reinvents itself every year. Familiar names such as Custo Barcelona hit the runway every season, but there is a new crew of emerging designers that are bringing fresh ideas to the table.

Breaking into the fashion industry is quite hard, and that’s what Samsung EGO was created for. The event showcases the work of new Spanish designers during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid, giving them the opportunity to present their collections to the media, clients, and influencers. Here are 10 designers to watch for this season.

JUAN CARLOS PAJARES

Designer Juan Carlos Pajares | Credit: Jorge Monges

What better way to start this list than with the winner of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talent Award for his True Cost collection. Cutouts, layers, and puffed sleeves and flares combined with simple lines and even some tailoring created a magnificent collection that has a symbolic meaning. Pajares denounces the irrational use of natural resources and calls for a responsible behaviour that supports a more ethical fashion. A wake-up call that in the form of beautiful designs merges tradition with innovation.

Juan Carlos Pajares | Credit: Jorge Monges

EXISTENCE RESEARCH PROGRAM

The designs are the stars of the brands — that’s the motto of this fashion firm that prefers to not reveal the name of the creative minds behind its concepts. Inspired by NASA and special missions programs, Existence Research Program merges natural fabrics with the latest technology to create pieces that emulate the uniforms of the astronauts while, at the same time, incorporating a more romantic touch with dramatic volumes and classic silhouettes.

AMAI RODRÍGUEZ

Amai Rodríguez | Credit: Kristen Wicce

Following this curiosity for the world beyond, Amai Rodríguez also makes the astronaut the main character of her collection, just with an unexpected shift. The designer talks about the complicated relationship between a spaceman and a sad woman who longs for him to come back after a mission. Rodríguez portrays the astronaut as a lonely man who gets lost in far and mysterious worlds full of vegetation and enigmatic colours. All of these are imprinted in the designs of her collection, creating a mix of romanticism and an enigmatic explosion of colours.

MARLINA PRADSOT

Photo Credit: Good2Be

Marca Blanca, Marlina Pradsot’s fall/winter 2017 collection, pivots on the human obsession with reaching perfection. Her designs, all in different whites, play with pattern designing to create from superposed pieces and cuts that distort the human shape a beautiful and harmonic discourse far away from conventional beauty standards.

MARÍA MAGDALENA

María Magdalena | Credit: Sheila Palacios

Inspired by Seville of the 2000s, Alejandra Jaime Mendoza, the talent behind this brand, adds a Spanish flavour to this Samsung EGO edition with puffed sleeves and flares that echo the traditional “Sevillana.” Her collection highlights the importance of integration by mixing different styles from different social groups in one single and unified collection.

OUTSIDERS DIVISION

Photo Credit: Good2Be

Forever Fantasy, designer David Méndez’s collection, took the audience to a magical and fun world. Vibrant colours, eye-catching prints, a lot of denim, and Converse sneakers brought a bit of our childhood and teenager memories back, making the wearer experiment with the freedom of those golden and sometimes naïve but very exciting times.

THREEONES

Threeones | Credit: Ignacio Zori

Under the creative direction of Adriana Cagigas, Threeones has been captivated by the Asian cultures and specifically by the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi, which finds beauty to be incomplete, imperfect, and impermanent. Stemming from this, simple lines and neutral colours inspired by those of Japanese ceramic works made the show full of symbolisms.

Threoones | Credit: Ignacio Zori

NACHO COSTA

Photo Credit: Nacho Costa

Straight lines and cuts, and neutral colours that range from off white to grey reinterpret fashion in an architectural way. Big shoulder pads and layering add the dramatic element to what may seem like a very simple collection at first hand. It is full of small artisanal details that recreate geometrical shapes that enhance a woman’s silhouette in a beautiful way.

ROCÍO LASECA

Photo Credit: Good2Be

Rocío Laseca made her debut at this edition of Samsung EGO during MBFWM. For her first huge fashion show, the designer wanted to take a step forward and embarked on the not-very-easy but rewarding adventure of working with new materials such as methacrylate and silk. The motif of her fall/winter 2017 collection, Who are you?, was inspired by the iconic British music band The Who.

WELLNESS

Photo Credit: Good2Be

Fashion and music walk together in this show thanks to the partnership between Wellness and Spanish musician El Guincho. The result? HiperAsia, a collection that questions the relationship between fashion and technology, and its consequences. The designs, in a neutral palette with touches of vibrant blues and yellows, are made of both synthetics and natural fabrics adorned with gadgets.

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.

Continue following our fashion & lifestyle coverage on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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

Continue following our fashion & lifestyle coverage on Facebook, Twitter, and instagram.