It’s that time of year again when the world’s most stylish cities host their own Fashion Week, and who would have known that Buenos Aires would be jumping on the bandwagon? No, seriously, who actually knew this was happening? Details about the event were difficult to come by, with radio silence on BAFWeek’s website and the only port of call being their Instagram account, which was also pretty vague.
However, on Tuesday night we managed to enter La Rural to see the first set of shows which were open to the press and public without invitation. After six half-hour walks and over three hours of queueing to see them, we’ve complied a taste of what was on show, so grab on to your stylish leather jackets and fashionable heels, and take a look at what’s coming.
The evening featured collections by emerging designers Bendeyán and Matías Hidalgo as well as established brands Mis Íntimos Amigos, Mila Kartei, House of Matching Colours, and Alen. These lucky young professionals had the opportunity to present their work in front of a panel of judges and have it critiqued by the big names who are the driving force behind the Argentine fashion scene. As expected, it’s a competitive environment.
When asked what they look for in choosing the designers whose collections will be showcased, judges Gustavo Lento and Luisa Norbis both claimed that they seek contemporary brands in touch with the social aspects of their fashion, such as the sustainability in the sourcing of their materials and the production of their pieces.
They added that they look for designers, and not just artists, who are focused on creative and commercial feasibility.
Indeed, it seems that the aim of BA’s Fashion Week is to help curate and sustain a local market, rather than create an international presence for Argentine brands. This made for a grounded, down-to-earth fashion show, delightfully accessible to the general public. Severed heads and third eyes? No thanks, Gucci.
Christening the catwalk were emerging sibling designers Matías and Melina Bendeyán with their autumn/winter 2018 collection. Founded only last year, Bendeyán is as young as you can get, but its identity is already clear and established.
The key theme of the collection is the exploration of fragmentation and dismantling, whether in terms of color, texture, or even the fabric itself. Colors were limited almost exclusively to black, textures simulated broken glass and evoked the bark and branches of trees, and some articles of clothing were made from recycled bags. In spite of the prevalence of this concept of recycling/reuse that no doubt appealed to the judging panel’s penchant for sustainability, the clothing was sleek and glamorous.
As one of BAFWeek’s selected emerging designers, Hidalgo’s ‘Boom Cartoon’ collection was second out on the catwalk. Known for quirky designs with colors that pop, Hidalgo’s designs have received lots of recognition of late and even by high profile installation artist Marta Minujín.
Combining a sporty casual look with bold and colorful vintage prints, Hidalgo sent the models down the runway to a tune of remixed 1920’s jazz. Using simple feminine cuts along with 1920s inspired flapper shaped dresses, Hidalgo effortlessly combined cartoon inspired prints with flattering femininity.
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Mis Íntimos Amigos
Palermo’s menswear brand Mis Íntimos Amigos cut a suave shape across La Rural’s catwalk. Slick and sharply cut, designers Luís and Sebastián Raimondi are firm believers of the design concept ‘handmade.’
Personalized and designed down to the smallest of details, care is taken so that each outfit has character and personality. Both wearable and occasionally offbeat, each look could be worn everyday by the well-dressed male office worker.
The reason behind being kicked out by security guards between each collection to re-queue for the next became clear after Mila Kartei’s showcase: the catwalk was transformed to mimic a high school prom venue, complete with a cheerleader DJ. It was a well-chosen vibe as it complemented the brand’s fun, bold signature style.
There were rugby-jersey stripes, prom queen tiaras, and pleated skirts aplenty. And it’s no doubt one of the most popular brands given that several audience members were spotted sporting last season’s items.
House of Matching Colours
House of Matching Colours (yes, “colours,” and not “colors” – the British are among us!) showcased their autumn/winter range which featured a duality of contrasting moods, perfectly balanced. It was both edgy and feminine, Gothic but with light, floral touches. Lacy, floaty dresses flowed from under HMC’s staple leather jackets on the models that strutted by, their faces adorned with sparkling gems but their expressions warrior-like and composed.
A highlight was definitely the last dress to be walked down the catwalk, wedding-like for its glowing white as well as the floor-length veil, carried gracefully from the floor by the proud designer as she walked her models backstage at the end of the walk.
Questioning fashion gender stereotypes, Alen is known for its unisex styles that challenge traditional gender-based fashion. Not always in towering heels or even in full makeup, female models walked alongside male models in a show that pushed the boundaries of what a fashion show and catwalk really is.
Designer Carmen Alen believes in the importance of designing clothing while thinking about use and need rather than what gender should be wearing what.
Typically, Argentina has had more of a conformist viewpoint of what sort of clothing women should be wearing, meaning most brands attempt to keep women’s clothing figure flattering and, let’s face it, stereotypical.
Brand Alena affirmed throughout the show that it wants to stay far from this by showcasing baggier, larger pieces for women as well as tighter clothing for men.
Stereotypes were challenged once more when instead of a conventional strut down the runway followed by a stationary pose one by one, Alen chose to put on a contemporary dance show, which ended with a full on rave before allowing for a group photo session in front of the cameras.
For more fashion-related goodness, check out these Buenos Aires-based bloggers who know what’s what: Mind the Gap Chica, Muy Mona, Muy Chule, TwentyFour Style, Lulu Biaus, and Marou Rivero. If you didn’t manage to make it to BAFWeek this year, be sure to head along to Designers of Buenos Aires (the next fashion big thing in BA) which will begin this Monday, March 12th and run through the 16th.