Have you ever been to Ibiza? Our latest designer, Isabel Fajardo of SF Couture, takes us on a trip to a serene European scene with a modern take on high fashion. Born abroad but based in San Francisco, her process of transforming garments includes nods to the latest technologies available in Silicon Valley where she and her family reside. The result of this technical process – perfect fit and finish in sleek designs. In her latest collection, Summer Moonlight, each dress has stand out details that dance along a theme of white lace. We spoke to Isabel about how she got started in film and TV, tips of the trade, and using wedding dresses for inspiration and sourcing.
How and why did you start designing? You have a lot of great experience we’d love to highlight!
I released my first collection at age 5 – for dolls – much to my mother’s despair, who found out how several tablecloths and her wedding gown had been sacrificed for fabric sourcing. Through magazines I learned how to make my own clothes as a child, and at age 14, when I started to work as a runway model for big brands I told myself I needed to learn how to make those gorgeous dresses.
Several years of courses and grants led me to opportunities in fashion in different industries like film and live TV, first in Spain and France, then in Switzerland, and now in the US. As in any other profession, you are never done learning, especially if you are curious about the technical side of fashion design and fabrics.
What is your fashion philosophy?
I believe in Fashion as an art and as a statement of women’s individuality. Fashion collects and transforms elements of our fast-evolving culture, which need to be present in our designs if we want to be current. Our challenge as designers is to distill those components into beautifying apparel, i.e. trendy but classy. Fashion is about taking risks – challenging society with new or re-purposed ideas. We need to expand our comfort zone continuously in order to impress.
In our fashion model, design and dress construction are fully integrated and thought of as a single entity rather than as a series of processes performed by separate departments. Bridging the gap between those crucial steps allows obtaining coherent and fully meaningful results, and, more importantly a good fit.
How has your design changed over time?
My design baseline and main vectors haven’t changed much over time. The inspiration has. Also, I have been adding new techniques and developments to my designs, including 3D CAD, 3D printing, etc.
What inspired your latest collection?
My Summer Moonlight collection reflects the melancholic souvenirs of summer beach events in Spain. The Ibiza nights, the pool parties, the fresh ocean breeze after hot days, and the style.
What is your biggest hurdle building a brand today?
Reaching the public. You may be designing fantastic clothing, but if you are not a big brand or a celebrity, how do people know about you? Your designs are perishable and you need to get them out there quickly.
Social networks have helped breach that barrier for some time, although lately that is also becoming harder, as those are getting over saturated.
What do you think about fashion today?
Right now, casual and sport looks have taken over most of the fashion spectrum, and clothes tend to be almost disposable. On the other hand, advances in materials and technology open up many exciting possibilities. These days the fashion industry is evolving faster than anyone can predict. We are now moving towards seasonless collections, influencers dictate trends and who knows what else is coming up. We think and hope that less pragmatic and more artistic times of fashion will come back just like any trend in society.
Where do you go and what do you do for inspiration?
Globetrotting, attending events, and enjoying other artistic expressions in museums, exhibitions or street events…but, inspiration comes later, in calm and relaxed moments. A certain degree of soul happiness is necessary to let inspiration flourish from all the collected influences.
Any tips and tricks of the trade?
There are several books about this, but you will come up with your own based on your experience. Here are some that I find particularly important:
After all, this is an industry, and not an easy one. You are dealing with tangible and perishable goods, imports, exports, retailing, and, may I also add ‘some unfair competitors’? Don’t be discouraged by a ‘NO,’ whether at trade-shows, showrooms, online, etc. It is part of the process.
Be in business.
Do not wait too long to be in business, it is good to get ready, but most of what you need to know you will learn as you go. Develop trustful relationships with anyone you work with, including other brands.
Find your own way.
Everyone is going to have an opinion of what you should be doing and how to do it. Listen but don’t swing.
Travel to the beaches of Ibiza and beyond with Isabel’s latest collection: