4 May 2022
Bringing Fashion to the Stage
A conversation with Carla Fernández
What drew you to pursue a life in fashion?
My first passion for fashion came from dancing. I started very young, and at 18, I was creating costumes for contemporary dance in Mexico and I loved the movement of clothing when dancing. My first approach was to dress myself and I fell in love with Mexican textiles and researching them. In the end, doing fashion and garments all started with this passion for dance and making costumes in Mexico.
Our fashion house is dedicated to creative collaborations with different communities around Mexico – from creating to the designing process. We work within 16 different states in the Mexican Republic, with more than 200 different techniques. We are completely devoted to demonstrating that another fashion system is possible; that we can work with indigenous communities, who in many cases don’t speak the same language as we do. We have even created a system for new design processes and are open to new collaborations with all these incredible master artisans that we have been working with for the last 20 years.
Juan Gabriel holds a special place in millions of people’s hearts around the world. What does he mean to you?
Juan Gabriel is a key person for Mexicans. He is someone that always makes you stand up and either laugh, cry, or dance. Every single song he wrote and performed makes you feel something different. He is an example of what talent, joy, and happiness can make of you, in and outside of your country. He came from very humble origins in Michoacán – his father was a countryman and worked as a farmer, and then his family, with many kids, had to move North. Juan Gabriel, with his feeling and gifts of writing, singing, and dancing, became such a joyful personality and achieved so much in his lifetime. Art was very important to him. I also think that he has opened so many paths to so many groups. It is very important that we see Juan Gabriel as a person that was not afraid of being who he was. He was very supportive of so many minority groups and became an icon for the LGBTQ+ Community.
From the textiles to the embroidery, these costumes are stunning. What was your inspiration when designing these costumes?
The costume designs and palette are first inspired by Juan Gabriel and what he loved – and he loved all of Mexico. If you see how he dressed, he used flowers from the south, fringes from the north, and different design elements from the middle of the country. He was, as I am, passionate about the crafts of Mexico and I am sure, if he were still alive, we would be having this conversation. Mexico is a very strong country in terms of craft. We also have the most ethnically diverse groups, after China and India, but you have to understand that Mexico is a much smaller country.
I love handmade techniques because they are so unique. Some of them have 3,000 years of development and I believe that tradition is not static. I truly believe those traditions are alive and it is why creating these costumes makes me feel so special. Juan Gabriel knew those traditions are alive. He knew he needed to stand up for them and those traditions new and contemporary. That was my main goal and it comes from a shared passion for Mexican crafts.
Is there anything our audiences should look for or keep in mind for the costumes as they watch the ballet?
One of the main things I would like for the audience to understand about this beautiful ballet and having Juan Gabriel as inspiration is that the costumes were made in collaboration with incredible artisans from around Mexico. For me, collaboration is a process that represents good work in every single way. I am very honored to have worked with the best designers across Mexico and they are the artisans that live in the jungles, the deserts, and the mountains of my country. They are very dedicated and excited to be part of this amazing project. Their work is filled with so much love because it is also for Juan Gabriel, and everything that he made and still represents. That is what we want to show with these costumes and the magic of working together with amazing Mexican hands, ideas, and Mexican creators. It’s embroidery and work of the highest quality.
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