Barranquilla Born Silvia Tcherassi designs with flair
Originally from Barranquilla, Colombia, Silvia Tcherassi is a Florida-based fashion designer and hotelier who designs with flair. With a workshop located in Miami, his creations were presented during the official calendars of Fashion Weeks in Paris and Milan. Its collections can be found across the Americas and Europe in one of its namesake shops. She is also worn by leading luxury fashion boutiques and is recognized by her peers for her clothes that are stylish, comfortable and interested in telling unique stories. Tcherassi recently partnered with spirits brand Don Julio to celebrate a shared passion for craftsmanship. Latina Alissa Lopez Serfozo sat down with Tcherassi to discuss NYFW 2021, Latin heritage brands and whether she thinks there is a “Latin” or “Colombian” fashion. This interview has been edited for clarity.
Alissa Lopez Serfozo
Show me your Spring 2022 collection. What are the inspirations and references involved?
Spring 2022 is inspired by the work of architect Morris Lapidus, a pioneer of the postmodern movement and one of the most influential figures of Mimo (Miami Modernism). This time around, the inspiration was very close to home, as the entire collection was designed and developed at our head office in Coral Gables, Florida, in a building designed by Lapidus in the sixties. I wanted to capture the eclecticism, tasteful flamboyance and exuberance that permeated all of his creations.
Looking back, what are the collections that have marked you?
There are three collections that I consider particularly important to me, the first, In the woods, it was my debut at Milan Fashion Week and Mosaic, during Paris Fashion Week. In both cases, I was the first Latin American designer to be invited by the organizers to present a collection on the official calendar. More recently, I have inspired a collection of female characters and unforgettable landscapes in García Márquez’s novels.
Are there any pieces that you are particularly proud to design / build?
I take pride every time I share my creativity with the world, especially when working on pieces that allow me to explore and experiment. However, I am even more proud of my work when a woman wears one of my pieces and puts her personal touch on it. I love to see women like Jennifer Lopez, Queen Rania of Jordan or Amal Clooney incorporate my pieces effortlessly and in style.
Let’s talk about materials. Are there any innovative materials that you would like to use in your collections?
As I mentioned earlier, experimentation is an important aspect of my process, and in my case, materials are always the starting point of my creative journey, which is why I like to intervene in appearance. , the texture and sometimes the color of a fabric. it is even more special and unique. In the past I have worked with latex, laser cut fabrics and high tech lace, but now my focus is on sustainable materials. The fashion industry must be more diverse, inclusive and sustainable every day.
As NYFW 2021 approached, what were some of the issues that were on your mind?
This collection marked the first time in a year and a half that I would have a physical presentation – the previous four were held virtually. I was determined to capture the current sentiment and identify the expectations, as the previous fashion weeks have mirrored the times we are in.
Looking now at NYFW 2021, were there any unexpected or poignant lessons / takeaways?
I think the industry is trying to adapt to a new reality with a whole new set of requirements: people want to continue to dress comfortably, but they also want to party and feel special. Our challenge as designers is to respond to this duality.
How has the pandemic affected the way you produce clothing?
The change brought about by the pandemic has been quite marked for the brand. As I said above, we had to rely on technology to present our collections to buyers and publishers, but also to oversee the entire production process. My fabrics are made in Italy especially for me, and it was a huge challenge to bring these very personal interactions to digital screens. At the same time, the country was going through terrible times while I was developing my Resort collection. The entire design process, sample approvals and quality control all went virtually and for the first time in 30 years I was unable to personally oversee my production. However, as in all unexpected situations, lessons have been learned and innovation has allowed us to apply mechanisms that have made us stronger and will help us in the future.
What do you think will be the long-term impacts of the pandemic on the fashion industry?
At the start of the pandemic, there was a lot of talk about reinventing the industry, even a new fashion calendar. I have advocated for these initiatives, and yet we are in exactly the same place as before. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but I think there was an opportunity for positive change in the industry and that sadly faded away. We are currently in a period of adaptation and uncertainty: the retail crisis has deepened, robust digital platforms are crucial, fashion must tell a story and be deeply personal.
Which designers do you have in mind?
I am impressed by the recent collaborations between top designers like Dries van Noten and Christian Lacroix as well as the partnership between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simmons. I was also excited to see Balenciaga buyout from Gucci and look forward to seeing Phoebe Philo’s expected new venture.
Before entering the fashion industry, were there any designers who made you think that you too could access their position?
When I started my career in the 1980s, Armani was a very important agent in the industry. I think a lot of people don’t realize how much influence he had on clothing construction and color use, but also branding and business. . As a Latina woman, the rise of Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta was a great force behind the idea that it was possible to have a place in the industry. That being said, they were both based in New York while I was in Latin America, so my biggest challenge was to build a luxury brand from there.
Do you think there is such a thing as “Latino Fashion?” What about the “Latin style?” ”
I have always said that fashion has no age or nationality. Maybe Latino designers have some appreciation for things given our upbringing and environment, but our culture is so diverse that it probably can’t fit under a single label or concept. Take Gabriela Hearst, Fernando García, Lázaro Hernández and myself for example, we are bound by a common culture, but our work could not be more different from each other. The Latino Flair trend has been attributed to me, and yet I don’t see it particularly as a trend, more as something I’ve been creating for years – this particular look is just one side of a diverse creative proposition.
Is there a “Colombian fashion”? What about the “Colombian style?” ”
I think labels can be complicated and even misleading at times. I like to center the conversation on the origin, and on that front I can assure you that there is great fashion and Made in Colombia design, and not only in the ready-to-wear category, but also in the accessories and jewelry categories. with talents like Edgardo Osorio (Aquazurra). Colombia has always had a strong textile and clothing tradition, but I am very proud that my international recognition in fashion has given credibility to national design. When I launched my designs on the catwalks in Milan and Paris, I knew that I was not just representing my brand, but an entire country during a particularly complicated period in our history, it was kind of an escape, a source of pride and a reminder of our potential.
What do you think of Hispanic Heritage Month? How do you relate to HHM?
I think it’s time to highlight the great contributions Latinos have made to this country in various fields like the arts and sciences, sports and business. Role models are essential because they serve as inspiration and motivation, which is exactly what we need right now. It’s important to show the possibility of success and this month I’m working on a number of initiatives that do just that.
Tequila Don Julio is an example of an iconic brand of Latin heritage. Why is it important for you to connect with such a brand?
Personally, I have always been very familiar with Tequila Don Julio because my husband Mauricio is the tequila lover par excellence. Professionally, I am closely related to the late founder of the brand – Don Julio González – who led a life devoted to making tequila and ultimately revolutionized the tequila category, because I too have dedicated my life to design and have worked tirelessly to be a fashion figurehead, opening the doors to the new generation of designers.
What do you think spirits brands like Tequila Don Julio have in common with fashion houses?
A lot, including the passion for craftsmanship, the compromise to create something unique and special and the Latin heritage we share. We both appreciate the dedication required to achieve the perfect finished product that must be enjoyed during those unforgettable celebratory moments, as both brands, Tequila Don Julio and mine, appeal to memories, to emotions.
Are there other heritage brands on your radar?
Again, I think these labels often limit certain concepts. There are a number of brands, including the newer ones, that are not necessarily considered heritage brands from a marketing perspective. I like to think about the place of heritage brands, those that were not born from a generic business plan or an academic thesis, but rather out of passion, a strong sense of history and a powerful transcendental resolution – what could be a better definition of heritage?
What’s the next step for you in 2021? And 2022?
Right now, I am focusing on my Pre-Fall 2022 collection. My priority continues to be brand expansion and the development of new projects, some going beyond the fashion world.