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Última Colección

The Triumph of Fashion with soul

21 Oct 2021

This is the story of an unexpected miracle: succeeding in Japan from Rianxo (A Coruña). Twenty years ago, Charo Froján and Alfredo Olmedo created DDue, a cult label for women seeking elegant and sustainable fabrics and tailoring patterns in garments with artistic features. Anti-boredom fashion.

A building with glass walls surrounded by a forest of cedars, olive trees and maples. You can also see the sea. A studio in Nordic style with offcuts and patterns, paintings and comics, trunks with eyes drawn on them, boxes of threads… And two voices: those of Charo Froján and Alfredo Olmedo. The daughter of the owners of a small textile company, she was educated at the Escola d’Arts I Tècniques de la Moda in Barcelona and, later, at the Istituto Secoli in Milan. “I always knew that pattern making was the language I had to master in order to control volume and shape. Paper holds everything. Why was Balenciaga a genius? Because his fashion emerged from the structure, from the engineering of the garment. I have always been obsessed with it.” He was brought up between a bookstore and a graphic arts workshop, he always wanted to be a painter and studied at the Escola Massana. “I was a quick learner: I was a bookish kind of kid, influenced by the works of Proust, Goethe and Mann in the family bookstore. When my mother told me “I’m going to throw you out of the house”, I replied: “send me to Summerhill!”

The two of them created DDue, the Galician firm that sells in the best multi-brand shops in Italy, Switzerland or Japan, their talismanic country, where they have their own showroom in the epicentre of fashion: Omote-Sando. Rianxo (A Coruña) is a small fishing village, with a rural atmosphere untouched by tourism, and remains a place of wild beauty. The microclimate of the Ría de Arousa has brought together a community of artists, including the architects David Chipperfield and Alberto Seoane, or the painter Álvaro Negro, Charo’s partner. This is a rugged, silent land of deep-rooted mysticism. It is not a place of passage. The rafts from which mussel strings hang and the shellfish gatherers that collect cockles at low tide, like the camelia fields and the stone granaries, weave a lively yet intimate atmosphere. This week they are presenting their new collection, created in their two workshops with a team of 25 collaborators, to their international clients. The sun shines in Rianxo.

Yours is one of the few labels based in a rural environment. That’s some challenge…

Alfredo Olmedo: We’re specialists in working in a hostile environment. Making a collection from here for the whole world, with hardly any marketing, is a challenge. But at the same time we have a DNA that is now being asserted, without any type of pretence: we design and create as part of an artisanal process. We do everything here. We do not produce anything outside. That is why we have managed to stay afloat and be stable: we embroider, sew and cut here. Paying real costs, even if that is more expensive.

Charo Froján: We can boast that our garments, when they leave here, have a whole life process, a history behind them. We are geeky, creative, unconventional: living in isolation allows us to live in our own world. With more freedom. And we have the opportunity to transmit this value to the world.

You both lived in Barcelona at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. Did that mark you in any way?

A. O.: I said to myself “either I go to Massana or I enter a monastery”. Barcelona was amazing: it had a creative effervescence; we were going to eat up the world! Spain was not used to that dynamic. The Gaudí catwalk shows were a blast…

C. F.: I learned a lot. There was a great feeling of excitement; Barcelona was going through an incredible moment, similar to Berlin… Then I went to Milan, where I was lucky enough to work with Paky Lorini, a high-fashion designer with an amazing knowledge of Milanese society. I told them I didn’t want to be paid, and in return they took me to parties and receptions. It was a great learning experience. I was amazed, for example, by the tailors who worked with Gianfranco Ferré. And I would go to the most exciting parties in the city. That was my real apprenticeship. One day I saw that they were separating the invitations to a party into piles, and I asked why: “Because these are the ones that have to arrive when the party is over.”

Su iconografía nos traslada a un paisaje de higos, castañas, ciervos… un mundo de cuento, con un pulmón alpino y otro marinero. La prenda es el lienzo. Así la entienden y así la serigrafían, o la dibujan a mano, creando una historia. La marca está concebida como un estudio-laboratorio de ideas donde hasta construyen sus propios sistemas de producción. “Todo se hace en la casa”, insisten.

Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith o Yamamoto eran algunos de los espejos en los que miraban estos personalísimos creadores. Cuando participaron en la primera feria Bread&Butter, en Barcelona, les invitaron a Berlín. Allí, firmas como Top Shop les encargaron colecciones que ellos rechazaron. Un agente italiano los descubrió, y empezaron a vender en las ferias de moda de París, Milán o Copenhague. “Siempre venían muchos japoneses a nuestros stands; había algo que conectaba con ellos… Y decidimos ir a Rooms, la feria de Tokio”.

Y¿ qué ocurrió con los japoneses?

A.O.: Los japoneses empiezan comprándote prendas por 3.000 euros; es una especia de regla tácita. Y si funciona, van a más. Se interesó por nosotros HP France, un grupo de moda que también tiene galerías de arte, y nos hicieron ver nuestro producto de otra manera: resaltaban el factor artístico y la sensibilidad estética. Enseguida nos propusieron estar en el Dover Market Street de Ginza –donde también vende Comme des garçons–, y hace diez años nos plantearon abrir tienda propia. Ellos creen en una especie de segunda vida de cada prenda… buscan la pureza, y nosotros replicamos desde la lencería antigua doméstica, a la cerámica o el bosque animado.

¿Cómo definirían sus colecciones?

C. F.: Empezamos a hacer trajes de fiesta anticonvencionales, muy frikis, tremendamente irónicos, utilizando tejidos de lujo. La colección dio un vuelco cuando entramos tan fuertes en el mercado japonés. Cambiamos el soporte: empezamos a trabajar con tejidos naturales, de un modo más orgánico y artístico. Y trabajamos más con proveedores de proximidad.

A. O.: Nuestro lino grueso, rústico, es el más maravilloso del mundo; lo traemos de Portugal y lo teñimos artesanalmente. Utilizamos algodón masculino, más opaco. Y contamos con los talleres artesanales gallegos. Sacamos prototipos de un dibujo a lápiz. El día a día de D-Due consiste en plantear la prenda, escoger el tejido, cortarla, y al minuto montarla. A cincuenta metros vive la bordadora; cruzo la puerta y le digo “Gelines, aquí te dejo la prenda para bordar con puntada pequeña. A la hora la recogemos”. Eso es un lujo…

De D-Due ha oscilado entre la Velvet y Proust, The Smiths y Morandi –a quien le dedicaron una colección–, Henry James y el manga, Hergé y los pinceles chinos. Su propuesta consiste en una moda anti-aburrimiento. “No hay censura en el acto creativo –dicen–. Somos transgresores, y a la vez trabajamos por la conservación del entorno. hacemos moda sostenible de forma natural”. Sin imposturas, más allá de la tendencia y con un ferviente amor por la cultura y la tierra. A dos voces.