So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins loves new ideas and the creative forces behind them, especially when you put them together with the determination to do something different and unique. So today we want to talk to you about La Osa Mallol, the studio of Loulitas and Hisabelia, in Seville, Spain. It’s a meeting place for lovers of slow and environmentally friendly fashion, and the location of different workshops on design and needlework.
Isabel & Lourdes
Loulitas has a different take on fashion, or at least a different way of understanding it. The person behind the provocatively named label is Lourdes Bermejo, a creative designer with a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Seville where she specialized in sculpture and photography. Her career as a designer came about almost spontaneously and now she’s known for her versatile, reversible garments. With the use of different patterns and color schemes, her work is almost timeless.
Loulitas shares a studio with Hisabelia, a children’s fashion brand based on the concept of personalized dressmaking. Isabel, the designer behind the concept, takes special care with each of her articles of clothing and the other assorted objects that she makes, from clothes for boys and girls to the ragdolls that our grandparents used to play with.
Lourdes and Isabel are also involved in different projects that they organize with a seemingly limitless creativity: La Osa Mallol.
Photo by Martín Navarro
The small green door to their workspace opens up to a world of color and adventures, with a mix of patterns, sewing machines and bobbins of thread; a colorful take on the world of slow fashion.
We met up in the atelier of Loulitas while one of the workshops was taking place. This time around, it was an open course on how to make your own clothes.
Between the lessons we talked a bit with Lourdes and Isabel.
So Catchy!: For those who don’t know you, could you tell us in a few words what Loulitas is?
Lourdes Bermejo: Loulitas is being able to choose something other than what the big fashion labels are offering. It’s about clothes that aren’t part of any trend, or even any collection. Clothes that are made to last and to be used for different occasions. That’s why they’re transformers, it’s a new concept for clothes that can be worn many different ways to take maximum advantage of them.
SC: What brought you to fashion after studying and working in the world of art?
LB: As a graduate of Fine Arts, I was already used to living in the artistic world. I studied sculpture and photography and eventually decided I needed to look at art from another perspective. I started off using conventional methods like crochet to make hats; that was my first foray into the world of fashion and I never went back.
Photo by Martín Navarro
SC: Tell us a bit about the clothes making process, from inspiration to production.
LB: The inspiration behind my garments comes from an artistic process based on specific themes or cultural disciplines. I usually work with the prototype of a normal woman, one who isn’t a model. For example, take the theme of women who work in a cultural profession, like painting. The idea would be to mix that theme with certain colors and shapes.
As for the production of my clothes, I don’t see it as inspired by any current trends. I guess I like the clothes to be environmentally friendly and artisanal. So we sew everything here in my studio and the fabrics are from Spain, or sometimes from Italy but mostly Spain.
The value behind something made in our studio is the exclusivity, there are usually no more than one hundred pieces made from five different designs.
Kimono dressmaking workshop at La Osa Mallol
SC: Who wears Loulitas, what kind of customers do you have?
LB: Namely people that like to buy special things. Usually middle class people like architects or designers. We get all kinds of people, really.
SC: What do you do with your free time?
LB: A bit of everything, but what I like best is independent and classic cinema and I also draw a bit, mostly self-portraits.
SC: Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?
LB: Mostly that they should look for inspiration in their own experience, that they don’t get swept away by the latest trend that the fashion world dictates, so they can develop their own personality. The processes of inspiration and creation can be great excuses for going to the cinema and to the theater, or for getting to know different fields that you would have never thought capable of speaking to you.
Amongst the fabric, ragdolls, scraps and sewing machines, Lourdes Bermejo is not alone. She’s accompanied by Isabel (Hisabelia), a lover of the art of dressmaking for the smallest, with her own special style.
SC: Isabel, how did Hisabelia get its start?
ISABEL: Well, I studied Dramatic Arts and began to work in the costume department of a theater. I had always been around sewing machines since I was a child because my mother was an everyday dressmaker. So as a toddle, I would make dress for my dolls and as I got older I just picked it up. After some time, I began to make shirts for my friends and me and eventually I decided to make a go at it professionally.
SC: What made you decide change paths?
H: Sewing is a form of creativity and of expression. I’ve made fitted dress and I’ve also done ordinary mending as a dressmaker would in the past. Taking up this seemingly antiquated profession has been a pleasure.
SC: What hobbies does Hisabelia have?
I: I love to laugh, to read, to listen to music and to go to the theater, to travel. I love mixing, at times, business and pleasure. Every once in awhile I travel for work and I love it. But what I love doing most is playing with my daughter.
Marga & Amalia
SC: Is there anything you think future generations should know?
I: I guess that you have to put all your effort and dreams into it, but you also need discipline and hardwork. You have to fight for what you want.
After talking with the spirited and creative girls, we spent some time looking at the students’ designs, each one making their own patterns and cutting their own clothes. Lourdes and Isabel are making use of their creative sides, dedicating themselves to that profession that so many women have before them, either for love or for obligation.
Photos courtesy of Lourdes Bermejo, Isabel and Esther de la Portilla-Concha Ballesteros.
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla