Against the backdrop of a cobalt sky, the colourful tiles of the Recinte Modernista Sant Pau shimmer in the sunshine. You know instantly that you’re in Barcelona but, once you venture inside and take your seat, you are swiftly swept away on a sensory tour of the globe, courtesy of the designers at the 23rd edition of 080 Barcelona Fashion.
There was a distinctly international influence on the Catalonian catwalks this season. Miriam Ponsa took us from China to Europe via the camel caravans on the Silk Road, while Agnes Sunyer was inspired by a trip between Tokyo and Kyoto. Heading west, Lola Casademut’s Central Park NY was a tribute to the women of the Big Apple and Jnorig merged the simplicity of the Amish lifestyle with the complexities of native American tribes.
At only 24 years old, Jaime Álvarez continues to impress with his creativity, winning the 080 Award to Emerging Design the third time running for his brand Mans Concept & Menswear. His collection Road to Goa transported us to the bazaars of India, through Hindu references, fabrics hand-embroidered and laser-cut to resemble jasmine and mango flowers and a bold and confident colour palette that included spice tones, lime, fuchsia and orange.
Although most participants at 080 are Spanish, this season four international designers were invited to show their collections with the aim of “broadening the Catalan fashion story”. Whilst diverse in terms of both style and nationality, they share an urge for exploration, in the literal sense. Colombian Carlos Polite studied in Madrid, and his womenswear collection focused specifically on the contrast between human movement and animal migrations. Thai-born designer Chu Suwannapha formed Chulaap in Paris before moving to Cape Town. He presented a remix of African engravings and Oriental motifs, inspired both by Japanese origami and his own Thai culture.
Although Esaú Yori grew up in Lima, he boasts Japanese, Italian and African, as well as Peruvian, roots. He also lived in Barcelona for many years, working successfully as a fashion stylist and academic, before moving to China in 2015 to set up his eponymous brand. With headquarters in Barcelona and a creative HQ in Guangzhou, Esaú Yori effortlessly fuses East with West. The fabrics used in the AW19 collection, for example, included British and Australian wool, Chinese silk, Italian nappa leather, Mongolian cashmere and Japanese poplin.
The collection also sought to harmonise masculinity and femininity using classic tailoring with accentuated waists. This was a departure from the mannish silhouettes of previous seasons, the womenswear designer told Schön!, but, true to his mission to clothe women rather than “decorate” them, Yori explained that even the corsets had been constructed to be as comfortable as suit jackets.
Likewise, Umit Benan forsakes “image-making as a virtual style exercise” and instead focuses on designing for “real men”. Born in Germany, raised in Turkey, educated in Switzerland and the USA and now based in Milan, Benan is also heavily influenced by his multi-cultural upbringing. His collection God is Black Part 2 explored the experience of the black Muslim. While Part 1 took us to America, Part 2 journeyed to Africa, combining cultural signifiers such as the tekke skull hat and caftan with field jackets, suits and classic coats.
While today’s politicians seek to build boundaries and barriers rather than bridges, it’s encouraging that so many creative minds continue to explore and embrace the rich diversity of humanity.
words. Huma Humayun