This post is also available in: Spanish
Now that it’s July and we’re well into planning our evening looks around some fiery Summer 2017 trends, we’re taking a look back at our sister magazine CasaLife’s December issue featuring interviews with these inspiring fashion designers. Three renowned men of style take CasaLife behind the seams on dressing the modern woman and what it takes to make it in the world of fashion.
In an industry that is famous for being cut-throat, three Hispanic designers are defying the odds at an early age—Juan Vidal, Moisés Quesada and Fernando García. Over the course of Dominicana Moda and Start Young, an entrepreneur conference, CasaLife took a moment to meet these three talented womenswear designers. Juan, hailing from Spain and a family of over four generations of tailors, became the first in his family to focus on dressing women. He attended the Felicidad Duce School of Fashion in Barcelona, and was this year’s guest of honor at Dominicana Moda, where his collection was chosen for the grand finale. Featuring colorful, flouncy skirts and playful ruffles, Juan revealed that these designs symbolized “revolutionary love” and “french kissing”.
During his visit to the country, he also lectured aspiring fashion designers at the Altos de Chavón School of Design. “If you are someone who stays too long in a place, you become stagnant and it’s not good for creativity,” he told the students when discussing his inspiration—later noting that his Spring/Summer 2017 collection, “Kiss Me Sabine” was moved by “public love, the street, and the free woman.” It wasn’t until his return from Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Russia in 2014 that the acclaimed designer felt like he had made it. Thereafter, he was awarded the “Who’s On Next” prize by Vogue Spain and Inditex. Prominent ladies like Lady Gaga, Lana del Rey, and Queen Letizia of Spain are among his current clientele.
Meanwhile Moisés Quesada, who celebrates 10 years in the fashion industry this year, began his career at the Altos de Chavón School of Design, specializing in Fine Arts and Illustration. His latest collection, “La Ví” (Spanish for “I saw her”) was showcased at Dominicana Moda. A delicate mix of tulle, fringe, crochet, crystal and pearl beading struck a whimsical chord. Moisés explained that with his sheer ensembles he aimed to highlight a woman’s sensuality, in a refined and elegant way. The mystical collection was inspired by “Las Ciguapas,” a Dominican myth of ancient women who still inhabit the lagoons of Samaná. Moisés’ collection aimed to embody these great warriors and wizards of the water. His structuring and draping techniques gave fluidity to the collection, and he even made some of his fabrics using 3D printing. Moisés pointed out that the highlights of his collection were trims, and he describes his style as “timeless; sexy but not forgetting the luxury and good taste that defines the concept, the proportions, and the elements of the design.”
As for advice for aspiring designers, he says: “Preparation or academic foundation demonstrates your immediate discipline to yourself. The responsibility to build your knowledge before exercising a trade is invaluable and helps guarantee your permanence in the market.” Moisés also encourages entrepreneurs to seek a business partner because “marketing and publicizing the brand correctly require skills in conducting key business strategies. Talent will always prevail, but there are long ways and there are short ways.”
A few weeks following the events of Dominicana Moda, the entrepreneur conference Start Young culminated with a presentation from esteemed fashion designer, Fernando García. A graduate of architecture from University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Fernando had the good fortune of meeting Oscar de la Renta and showing him some “doodles”. The encounter resulted in an internship which led to six years as his principal designer. Along with his partner Laura Kim, the duo now design for their signature label Monse in New York. In addition, the pair return to the Oscar de la Renta fashion house this month as its new co-creative directors. Monse’s first collection debuted in spring 2016, and has already been worn by fashion icons Amal Clooney, Blake Lively, Sienna Miller, and Sarah Jessica Parker.
In a world where so much emphasis is placed on idealized beauty, the brand turns a refreshing focus to the busy, multi-tasking lifestyles of women. “I think the woman we’re designing for is relaxed, sexy, comfortable with herself and she doesn’t want to be dolled up. She wants to feel like a winner,” expresses Laura. Choosing a balance between masculine and feminine esthetic, Monse deconstructs the norms—the brand’s signature men’s shirt transformed into a woman’s dress is a true testament to their approach. In their Spring/Summer 2017 collection, button-downs fall of the shoulders in loose cuts, pinstripe suit jackets are reassembled as skirts, and the opposite of body-conscious dresses prevail. Fernando explained, “All women have a masculine and feminine part and we think there’s not a sufficient market to implement this kind of thinking.” Fernando opened up to CasaLife in a few questions about Monse’s brand concept:
What moves you to understanding what women need today?
By getting to know our customer. We are inspired by the woman on the street and working woman looking effortless—as if it took her 5 minutes to get ready.
How does Monse differ in its aesthetic?
It is more street, everyday casual dressing… but elevated. Additionally, we make each collection with couture knowledge. Monse effortlessly transverses the line of being both sexy and feminine… It’s all about hitting the right balance between the masculine and feminine attitude and have it resonate throughout each collection. Laura and I have different views on what women should wear, which allows our clothes to have a special kind of dynamic and tension.
How did branching out on your own with Laura prove to be a beneficial step for your partnership?
Monse, to us, has been a way to discover who we are as designers outside of a big house: a way to find what is new and exciting for us and what is not already out there in today’s competitive market. When beginning our own line, it was important to discover something that was new from a relatable everyday piece of clothing: so we found the shirt. We draped with shirts, chopped some of mine off, and wound up with our first collection of 30 pieces.
What is your pivotal message for aspiring designers?
It’s important to do your homework. Consult with buyers and stylists in what is missing in the assortments they are buying.
Transferring the attitude of women today into clothing that they want to wear may seem like an arduous task, and yet Juan, Moisés, and Fernando do so with a vision that is secure. ‘What do women want?’ It’s a question that is eternally perplexing, but perhaps can be summed up in Fernando and Laura’s choice to name their brand Monse: “[It’s] Fernando’s mother’s name. We were drawn to it because it sounds feminine and strong, which rings true to our garments.”