At So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins, we love finding new talent, be they designers or simply lovers of the world of fashion. Nadia Leal fits into the second category. An incessant seeker of trends and innovation, she can anticipate the massive movements behind different sectors before they reach the mainstream. A tireless searcher, she knows the influence that art, architecture or music can have on the world of fashion, so she doesn’t limit herself to only one field. Her cultural knowledge and her innate curiosity make her a valuable business asset for any publication around today.
So Catchy!: Hello Nadia, first of all, we’d like to know when you realized that you had the ability to see innovation before it becomes fashionable.
Nadia Leal: Hi So Catchy! (Laughs). Well, more than realizing that I had a talent, my bosses realized and then later I could see it. It was normal for me, I’m not kidding, to spend 8 hours on Tumblr looking at blogs in the US and that helped me to see what was going on in the underground around the world. That was back in 2011 or 2012. The majority of the themes, gifs and polycolor things that I talked about hadn’t got to Spain yet and, between one thing and another, along with my degree in Art History and everything I knew about fashion at the tender age of 23, helped to fill out my vision of what is, or isn’t peculiar.
SC!: In the world of fashion, there are constant innovations and changes. What do you think is the most significant movement taking place right now?
NL: That’s an interesting question. Really, I think that the future, and I know this is going to sound a bit like science fiction, is how technology is going to come together with the world of fashion. And I’m not talking about wearables like Google Glass and the Apple Watch? I’m referring to the fact that we don’t realize how 3D printing, like with Iris van Herpen and Julia Koerner, who have made almost alien-like articles. I don’t want to take anything away from McQueen, I’m just talking about the present and many young designers are still researching in this unknown and undervalued field. Outside of Spain, people are doing amazing things with 3D printing. I also like the idea of the Silicon Valley Fashion Week. It seems like a bit of a joke but Hood By Air is done by some geeks, I mean, they experiment radically with fashion and technology without paying too much attention to esthetics. I think they are going to come up with some interesting things that change our perception of fashion.
Silicon Valley Fashion Week
SC!: Are there any emerging designers who have caught your attention lately?
NL: Hmm, well, it’s hard to be objective here. A few years ago on the blog TENMAG, I talked about Bobby Abley. At the time he was emerging, but I still find his designs amazing today. The way he took those pop icons and transformed them into something refined and urban at the same time, I love that. Emerging in Spain, Shoop is a clothing line by Yohei Oki that I think is interesting. They’ve still got a lot of things to work on and they have to grow but they’re on the right path. Also, Shallowww, that kawaii-dark era, post-Internet thing is something I like. Internationally, more than specific designers, I like to check out fashion weeks, like LFW, and see entire collections; it’s more fulfilling. Also, if you want to see anything that is up-and-coming now, you should follow blogs from countries like Japan.
SC!: What fashion films do you find to be especially innovative?
NL: I wouldn’t want to say just one, not because I can’t think of a specific, inspiring fashion film, but because I love any of them that are made with a low budget, without any agencies involved and that can show you, truthfully, a trend and a long vision on fashion, different than the rest of the fashion world. Big firms pay a lot for fashion films and have flooded the market. I respect that but I wouldn’t want to be a part of it. And the trash and dirty videos that show people dressed like in the 90s is a bit démodé. You’ve got to learn to break out of the esthetic clichés that seem like they’ll never go out of style. We find ourselves in a strange place where you’re either chic, or trash, and no one is talking about how fashion really is today. Either you wear clothes from Zara, Urban Outfitters and Tophshop, or you only go to vintage shops like they have in Berlin. I think the same thing happens with Fashion Films.
SC!: The million dollar question is, what blogs or websites do you use for inspiration or to learn?
NL: Hmm, I can’t say! (Laughs). Actually, though, they’re mostly design, architecture and industrial design websites. More than fashion, I like to see cutting edge websites in architecture, they really open your mind. One that I like a lot, which brings together fashion with nerdy things and news is Hint Magazine.
SC!: We know that your weakness is music, so what can you tell us about it and the fashion world? How do you think musical trends have evolved in this sense, on catwalks, in spots and fashion films?
NL: Fashion and music, are two worlds that have always gone hand in hand. In my opinion, you can’t separate fashion and cinema or fashion and music. It’s just impossible to imagine one without the other. Big brands like Chanel and Kenzo use talents that aren’t as well know. At Kenzo, for example, when they started their new makeover with the Toilet Paper Magazine campaigns, they asked M.I.A. to do a remix for their shows. Which was great.
I also like the session with the producer of Björk’s last album, ARCA and Yeezus of Kanye West fame, for the Hood By Air Fashion Show.
There are an infinite number of examples, like Shamir, who released his first album, Ratchet, which they used for a Chanel show.
I’ll wrap it up or we’ll never finish, there are a lot of examples, and I like that big firms are using electronic music, because it elevates the style of music to another, more refined and sophisticated, level. Music by James Holden, for example, at a haute couture fashion show opens people’s minds and takes the music out of the dance clubs, benefiting both worlds.
SC!: Which creative minds inspire you?
NL: Really, any that break the pre-established mold. In my opinion, we are still living in a sexist and close-minded society. People, the media and society push you to be nice, exceptional and brilliant and when you don’t do what you’re supposed to, they write you off as crazy.
As for inspiration, I love Alexander McQueen. I recently read some statements from his sister that say that his husband abused him and so he sought refuge in the world of fashion. I have a lot of respect for people who transform their pain into creativity and color. These people inspire and motivate me to keep fighting, those who aren’t happy with the status quo and who, regardless of where they’re from, break out of the mold. When I saw the documentary on Bowie, and his exhibition in the Victoria and Albert Museum, I loved how someone explained that at that time, when Bowie was young, it was normal to grow up in a neighborhood and never leave. But he got out and became a cosmopolitan city kid. I don’t think that things have changed a lot since then so I’m motivated by people who keep fighting to be exceptional, while still being humble and hard-working. I’m also inspired by women like the Empress Sissi or Sonia Delaunay, who were ahead of their time, free-thinking and had a lot of personality.
SC!: What are your favorite corners of Madrid?
NL: The truth is that I don’t have a favorite place to go. I feel best on the stairs of the new entrance to the Prado Museum. The church is there and you can sit on the stairs for hours and watch people walk by without seeming strange. You can see people from all over the world and I love people watching, checking out what they’re wearing, who they interact, I could do it for hours. I also love the Dress Museum. It’s almost always empty so you can breath easy and learn about history. It’s like you have a museum for yourself.
SC!: If you were a person from a Science Fiction series you’d be…
NL: Hit Girl from Kick Ass, Mamba Negra (Uma Thurma) in Kill Bill or Marnie (Tippi Hedren) from Hitchcock. And in animated form, I’d probably be from Futurama. I don’t know who, maybe Nibbler, who seems like only a pet but is actually a commander and very intelligent.
SC!: You can’t like without…
NL: Music, orange juice, water, my cat Tigre, my iPhone and the Internet.
SC!: If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life…
NL: A homemade strawberry milkshake with a lot of sugar.
SC!: Some bands or songs that you can’t stop listening to.
NL: To be honest, I listen to everything. I like the Muscle & Mind album by Oscar Mulero, who I interviewed recently and it was a complete honor. Also, Bercy by the Catalan Sau Poler, he’s really talented. I like Shlohmo, too and his album Dark Red, I’ve been trying to get an interview for months but between my trips, I haven’t been able to do it. I’m also inspire by ARCA the album Xen and I had almost the same issue as with Shlohmo, now that he’s going to the Sonar Festival, he’s not giving interviews. Lately, I’ve been listening to Run The Jewels, the first and the second album. Juan Wauters is also a friend of mine but first and foremost, an excellent musician from NYC.
Two songs that fascinate me are: Flashing Lights from Graduation by Kanye West. And Ageispolis by Aphex Twin. I don’t want to seem like too much of an intellectual so also, Get Me Bodied by Beyoncé, with the then still unknown Solange and friends. That song and video are works of art.
Photo: Matias Uris
Assistant: Javier Ruiz
Hair & Make up: Luz Gilardo
Starring: Lucia Millet @View Management & Alberto Beto
Shallowww images courtesy of Shallowww.biz
Bobby Abley images courtesy of BobbyAbley.co.uk
Nadia Leal by Nadia Leal