It’s 4pm at La Rural, BAF Week’s main site, on day two of BAF Week. Flashing our precious backstage press passes in front of the security guards, we leave the hub of activity around the sponsorship stands and pop-up showrooms out front (which all appears to have been downsized for this edition) and venture behind the main stage.
There’s one hour to go before show time but the Cecilia Gadea team has been busy prepping since midday. Fashion shows are notorious for running ‘fashionably’ late, we were half expecting to enter a scene of chaos but everything appeared surprisingly serene.
Along a row of brightly-lit make-up stations, a team of slick-looking make-up artists are busy powdering and painting the faces of young, slender models, while a hair stylist deftly arranges strands of their hair into a woven-like pattern on one side of their forehead, a subtle reference to the title and theme of Gadea’s new collection entitled Tejido Imaginario.
Over in the assigned dressing room for Cecilia Gadea, a team of wardrobe assistants sit chatting cross-legged on the floor waiting for their call to action. In one corner, a woman is busy with some last-minute ironing of the more delicate pieces. The twenty seven looks to be paraded down the runway hang on a rail around the room in order, with a piece of paper tacked to each one showing a photo of the assigned model and instructions on how to dress them in each ensemble.
Then we spot designer Cecilia Gadea nervously darting around, busy with last minute preparations. This is Cecilia Gadea’s 15th catwalk show for the bi-annual BAF Week of her namesake label of ready-wear-to-wear and custom-made collections that she’s dedicated herself to since 2001. Gadea admits she always feels a bit anxious, “It’s always a challenge to show what you do. For me, presenting a collection on the runway responds more to a desire to tell a story than to be part of a calendar. I work on a small scale and my designs are quite timeless so I don’t always want to show every season. But I love the possibility of getting closer to my clients and the coming together of creative minds and working with other people that I admire in the industry.”
Gadea has been working on this particular collection entitled since December 2015, “Ideas for my next collection usually come up when I’m designing the previous,” she tells us. Her main source of inspiration this season? An eclectic mix of memories of her mother’s knitting hobby and the knitting magazines she followed, combined with a dash of Nouvelle Vague attitude and muses Ana Karina and Jean Seberg. Adds Gadea, “Another key part of my inspiration this time around was the music of Maria Ezquiaga from Argentine pop band Rosal so I asked them to play live during the show.”
The process for any fashion show starts with an inspiration board that Gadea works on with her design team, featuring photographs, fabric samples and a color palette for the new collection. This is then submitted to the BAF Week organizers that this season includes stylist and photographer Gustavo Di Mario and choreographer and producer Andrea Servera, who assisted Gadea in the selection of models and creating the right overall aesthetic and atmosphere.
With half an hour to go until showtime, models gather at the top of the runway and are arranged in order for a quick rehearsal. Meanwhile, one woman works down the line performing a nail check. Then the models disappear inside the dressing room to change and it’s show time.
The band starts up and the models file out in a sultry fashion, working that Nouvelle Vague attitude. The collection is cohesive, featuring the knitted sweater, reimagined in different forms, a series of floaty dresses in silk muslin, and wool dress coats, all paired with elegant kitten heels (from Ferraro). The palette is muted with an abundance of black, combined with dusty pinks, grays and sandy tones.
Gadea’s signature laser cut details adorn the sleeves, fronts and backs of her dresses and coats in cascades and have the usual paper-like, ethereal quality that’s synonymous in all of her designs, while the shapes themselves are reminiscent of knitting patterns and weaving.
The show’s a hit and catching Gadea again backstage after the show, she’s infinitely calmer and throws smiles, as people line up to congratulate her. She says, “I always feel nervous. I think the day that I don’t feel nervous anymore is going to be the moment that I don’t get excited about doing this line of work.”
That contagious excitement is readily visible in her designs, and her show has certainly gotten many of us looking forward to autumn and winter.