|TALLER FLORA: FUTURE FOLK|
|Written by Magaly Fuentes - Sunday, 15 November 2009|
Raised by a mother who passed on a habit of clothes shopping involving both new and previously worn clothing and a father who worked as a director of museums at the National Institute of Anthropology and History, Mexican born designer Carla Fernandez, founder of Taller Flora, quite naturally developed a passion for fashion which merges old with new, simple with complex, and tradition with forward-thinking. Her father’s work required travel embarking the family on voyages all over Mexico, exploring different indigenous communities, their traditions, their homes, and most apparent in Carla Fernandez’ work today, their apparel. Her designs are comprised of geometric shapes, bold and beautiful colors, techniques born of heritage and culture, and clothing that truly tells a story with no end because for this designer, time is not a barrier and the sky is the limit.
Carla Fernandez developed and launched a mobile fashion lab that travels all over Mexico and sets up workshops in indigenous communities with cooperatives that handcraft textiles. Her mission is not just about creating beautiful clothing, it extends beyond that to address environmental concerns and most importantly, to improve the lives of people, significantly enriching their lives and the lives of their families as well as wholly improving their communities.
Eco Fashion World: Why did you choose to become a part of ethical fashion specifically?
Carla Fernandez: In Mexico, we have a tradition of textile art that is incredibly rich, however this has been in the realm of study for anthropologists. I was always surprised that fashion designers in Mexico were looking to world trends while having such a great heritage to get inspiration from. The endless source of materials and shapes became a design tool for my work.
EFW: You have made the statement, “only radical contemporary design will prevent the extinction of craftsmanship,” could you elaborate on what you mean by this?
CF: Certainly. There are a lot of techniques that are at risk of extinction. Younger generations have resisted following methods of traditional craftsmanship but this is what I have identified as a really fresh approach to fashion design. It is an untapped vein which keeps me going and it is what I find radical. It is not only in the design but also the larger political and economical resonance that it has in the communities. However, it must be noted, there are also changes in tradition. Tradition does not mean to stick to the past but to be truthful to something meaningful and the role of craftsmanship in the community has a sense of belonging that gives identity in an age of accelerated globalization.
EFW: Where do you look for inspiration and why?
CF: For me design is timeless. I believe tradition is not static and fashion is not ephemeral. I try to establish and maintain long term relationships with the communities because I am aware that every year we will be producing improved versions of our models. So I derive inspiration from new methods and classic garments and then pursue a new take on a classic garment.
EFW: How have your designs evolved?
CF: An important part of the work I do takes place in the workshops I set up with the coops I work with. I told myself that if I want to teach I first have to learn. So I try to understand the method that makes each community special. We build upon what they know best, and from there spontaneity brings up the new designs.
EFW: What does the name Taller Flora mean to you?
CF: A group of idealists. We want to replicate our models so our creations can be treasured by the wearers worldwide as well as the producers. We see both parts coming together in appreciation of this creation process.
EFW: Could you describe the kind of person who wears Taller Flora?
CF: It is someone who understands elegance in the 21st century as a broad responsibility to our planet, someone who is smart and likes the warmth and abstraction of an organic and simple piece which will be worn for many years.
EFW: Where are your designs sold?
CF: In Mexico, USA, London and Japan.
EFW: Who do you admire most and why?
CF: The women in the communities I work with. They take care of large families and still have the energy and creativity to make beautiful things.
EFW: Who is your favorite designer and why?
CF: Hussein Chalayan because his collections are rooted in historical clothes but yet they have a new aspect where he manages to be free and fresh.
EFW: What hobbies and interests do you have outside of fashion?
CF: I am often invited to participate in contemporary art projects and very much enjoy being a part of them. But what I like to do most is spend time with my family.
EFW: What would you say has been the biggest hurdle in working with ethical fashion?
CF: The slowness of the handmade process in comparison to the incredibly fast timing of the fashion system.
EFW: Which aspect of your work gives you the most pleasure?
CF: First, knowing that my work will improve the living standard of the women I work with and also that you will see better dressed people.
EFW: You have compiled an amazing book titled Taller Flora detailing the processes in creating some of your garments. The book states you travel to a different area every 2 months. How do you choose the areas you will travel to? Do you become personally attached to the people in these areas and what is their response to what you are doing?
CF: First, the coops call me and tell me they want to work with me. After that we become partners and design our collections together. I have wonderful friends all over Mexico as a direct result of our work together. When they come to Mexico City they stay in my house and we do not just design together but we also enjoy wonderful meals and lots of laughs.
EFW: What do you see in the future of eco fashion in general and as directly related to artisan work?
CF: It is not only important to look out for the environment but also to work toward social justice. Our customer knows that they are contributing to the wellbeing of every human that took part in the design and creation of the piece he or she is wearing. I see an expansion of this awareness in the future.
EFW: Any new future projects you can share with us?
CF: I am planning a ready-to-wear line, where I will mix industrial manufacturing with craftsmanship.
EFW: What advice do you have for aspiring eco-conscious designers?
CF: Don´t go hippie.
written by alex, November 19, 2009
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