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28 March 2012

Architecturally Speaking

Naturally underpinned with architectural brilliance, Emilio de la Morena sent a quake of shockwaves through Somerset House with a slight departure from signature separates and fluted frocks, preferring to unearth his inner Spaniard for the new season. Moved by Navarra landscapes, a selection of belted wool mantilla and astute tailored trousers meandered down the runway, imparting a more sombre sense of romance than ever before.

Buried in the verdant depths of Kensington, we catch up with the ever-delightful Emilio to talk about how his current Easter-egg palette for spring has morphed into something quite different for autumn/winter 2012.

Your studio is based in West London, why did you decide to reject the ‘fashionable’ East London scene?

That’s a good question. I’m unsure if it affects my design aesthetic, although it probably does, because as designers we are influenced by everything around us. I’m quite insular when I design, so even if I were based in Hackney I would still be confined to my studio. One thing I do enjoy is looking out of my window and gazing, even if it’s just at the church opposite.

You love to play with transparency and density in your collections; can you tell us a little more about this?

I have this thing, I don’t know why, but I like all my garments to look undeniably chic. I love fusing restriction, colour and subtly revealing the body with transparency, to just give a little away. In the past I was always drawn to more conceptual labels like Maison Martin Margiela, Junya Watanabe and Comme des Garçons, and believed that was the type of designer that I should to be; but that’s just not what I do. When I tried to become more conceptual it just resulted in a frumpy mess [laughs]. I’m good at creating a super sexy silhouette with a dash of austerity. It’s taken me a while to realise that the ‘Emilio woman’ requires a look that is serious and expensive, and for that attire, transparent fabrics work really well.

In the past you’ve worked with Jonathan Saunders and Rafael Lopez; have they influenced you as a designer?

The environment at Jonathan Saunders really inspired me, as they are such a fantastic team. The relationship between him [Jonathan Saunders] and the other designers was amazing; everyone worked so hard and knew exactly what they wanted to achieve. I hope that I’ve adopted the same kind of working atmosphere. I’m not the kind of designer that doesn’t like people contributing to my work, it’s fashion not brain surgery [laughs] and if someone’s got a fabulous idea that they can offer, then great!

Until AW12, there’s been a distinct lack of trousers in your collections, is there a reason for this and why now?

My first collection at Browns had trousers in it, although they were more fitted and made in a fabric that stretched. The more I develop trousers, the more I don’t like them because they’re not intricate enough, but I recently realised that they don’t have to be intricate, just really well made [laughs]. It’s definitely an area that I want to explore further, as trousers define incredible silhouettes.

You originally hoped to study sculpture, why did you choose to diverge into fashion design?

There’s a great matrimony between fashion and sculpture. I originally wanted to study Fine Art, but my parents weren’t too keen as they’re both high school teachers and work in ‘proper jobs’. My father was a painter, but never professionally, he believes that you can’t make money from creativity, so initially I studied economics. It soon became apparent that it wasn’t for me and I decided to take an MA in Sculpture at Goldsmiths, while I was there I scanned my friend’s portfolios [who studied fashion] and absolutely knew that it was something that I had to do. Recently my Grandmother told me that when I was small she would secretly teach me how to stitch clothing, but we had to keep it quiet because it’s “not something that boys do” [giggles].

Who is the Emilio de la Morena woman? What’s her job, where does she eat?

A lot of my work is very art inspired, so I’ve never really worked with a particular woman in mind, but maybe I’m missing that. I see Leighton Meester wearing my clothes and she always looks unbelievably elegant. She does the ‘pretty thing’ really well, but that’s much more of a New York style. Girls here do ‘rock ‘n’ roll pretty’, but not so much ethereal. In London, if you’re wearing a cute dress then you have to throw a gritty biker jacket on top [laughs].

Do you have any favourite London hangouts?

I love anything green and like to explore London’s parks. Embankment, Royal Festival Hall and London Bridge are great, in fact the whole of Southbank. Tate Modern is one of my favourite places, along with Borough Market, which is just so beautiful. Going out in Dalston is fun, although that’s a bit of a cliché [laughs]. London is unlike anywhere else in the world, I just love it.

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