Karl Lagerfeld, Shoniwa, and Paloma Faith are just some of those championing Spanish-born, London-based designer Conchita Perez. Meanwhile, the video for her fall 2011 collection, Invisible Warriors, smacks of Alexander McQueen, with its corseted blazers, cocoon shapes, and impossibly snug leather reminiscent of jet-black petals from an exotic, toxic flower. Which isn't surprising, since she was schooled by the late British icon before starting her eponymous label. Perez herself, as it turns out, is a rare breed...
Conchita Perez and the Self-Esteem Salon, your showroom-cum-cafe, sound like a holistic burlesque act. What do you reckon?
Definitely. In my view, if art is about expressing yourself, then fashion is one of the most interesting and accessible forms of art. Art exists everywhere, and the best art you find in the strangest of places. This is one of the reasons why it's so good to be living and working in London. It is such a vibrant place with so many people trying to make sense out of this crazy world we live in. It’s the best medicine!
How was being a costume designer different from creating ready-to-wear? Which do you prefer?
As a cutter and maker, I wanted to increase my knowledge in the different techniques of constructing clothing and learn various methods of cutting. Theater and film use a lot of details from different eras of costume history. To be involved in that environment is like diving into the unknown. But I wanted to bring that spark to ready-to-wear and create something more imaginative and playful.
How did you get your start in fashion? What first motivated you to become a designer?
I come from an artistic family in Barcelona. My great uncle was a famous tailor back in the day. His name was Paco and he was openly gay, something that was obviously not part of the mainstream back then. But he was proud and made a good business out of the attention he got. My mother had a clothing shop and was always designing and making beautiful clothes for us. We were always dressed in the latest trends! My brother is an amazing sculptor and my older sister was a fashion designer already when I decided to move to London at 19 and carve out my career. I knew I wanted to express ideas and stories. I found clothing was the best tool for me to do this.
Tell us about your time working for Lee McQueen.
I was really excited when I got the job. I made the sample pieces for the autumn 2006 collection, machining silk dresses and hand sewing laces. That's one of my favorite collections of his. He has been a big inspiration for my work. Not many people have been able to take an old tradition such as tailoring and turn it on its head, making it accessible in a completely new way. I love him for that. And working with him opened my eyes to the fact that making clothing is so much more than fashion.
You exhibited during Paris Fashion Week last season. How was it?
Paris is great. Fashion Week there was amazing. We exhibited our spring 2012 collection at Tranoi [trade show]. In fact, we’ll be presenting autumn 2012 there again in February. Next year is going to be a very exciting year for us. We’ll be presenting in both London and Paris. Shows are a very important part of the label. It becomes a physical experience.
What do you do when you're in need of inspiration?
Inspirations are never-ending. I look at art, music, cultures, people on the street. When I ride the Tube or when I’m at a party, it’s a passion that I live out 24/7.
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