Everyone remembers their very first fashion moment. Mine began in the theatre - children's theatre that is. It was audition time at our primary school's drama group, and most of the girls in my class were having tantrums over who would be the next princess of some sort. I However, cared only about one thing: the costumes.
While the girls were elbowing each other, I would be found in the closet, rummaging through the pile of clothes, trying on different pieces, styling and restyling, and evaluating the combinations in the mirror. Any excuse to play dress-up, and there I was. For hours. Ever since, my parents resigned any academic ambitions they had, as they saw that my destiny was in fashion.
Fast-forward to adulthood, when fashion finally became my job. After completing my BA in fashion design in 2004, and the win of a design contest, I succeeded in becoming a member of Hugo Boss‘ first international talent team in Switzerland. This pivotal experience was followed by working in the design teams for a number of luxury and fast-fashion brands within Germany, Milan, and later, Spain, where I finally settled.
No matter what I did, my mind always wandered back to the world of knitwear, which I was first exposed to at Hugo Boss, and mastered during my tenure as senior designer of Women’s Knitwear at Inditex Group. I started at Zara at a time when anything knit was very basic and traditional: the odd crew neck sweater, the odd cardigan. I wanted to do more. I tried to convince key decision makers to make more total knit looks and eveningwear. I visited factories to assess them for capacity and carry out quality control. Little by little, production was elevated, things changed, and yarn companies started to look to me to lead. Before long, I came to be considered a knitwear revolutionary within the fashion industry thanks to my bold compositions of novel yarns. Working with a global supply chain of yarn providers, I fell in love with the technical aspect of creating new knit compositions and their many poetic nuances. Each type of yarn can be heavy or feather light and open a door to an entirely new design story. I am fascinated by the rhythm and movement of different gauges, and how each element weaves together to form a naturally beautiful design in its entirety. Finding the right fibers for each message, and building up a library of patterns, jacquards and textures became my design purpose. But there was still a piece of the puzzle missing: I had worked with some great brands, and I had the technical know-how. What I needed, was artistic direction. Of course, it came unexpectedly on a lazy day, last summer.
I had gone to a beach club in Turkey, a trendy one, frequented by people of all ages. My best friends’ daughters, aged 18 and 21, had joined us, and as always, we ended up talking about fashion, politely assessing what we saw. The girls remarked that the local beach style bored them, but that they loved a knit dress that I was wearing. It was simple yet with considered details. One thing led to another, and the girls pushed me to create my own collection. Inspired by the experience at the beach club, and the strong resort culture I was influenced by when living in Spain and Italy, I decided that I was fated to use my knitwear expertise to create luxury resortwear.
I launched my eponymous label SANGUEL in Paris in 2019, as an ode to warm-weather travels and curating the perfect vacation capsule. Despite their being ample resortwear on the market, I felt a niche was missing. My collection is different is that my pieces are practical and multi-purpose. I never liked preparing for a summer trip and having to pack two outfits a day, one for daytime, for one for evening. While the brand maintains a firm nod to the classic jet-set ethos, it takes inspiration from the way we currently travel now. I wanted less changing for the modern woman, so I thought about how I could leverage the sensibility of knit textiles to create pieces that work seamlessly from beach to bar. Reflecting on the fact that also, more than ever, as a consumer, I crave novelty when browsing and love unexpected pairings,
I strive to provide this curated sensibility and contrast into my collections so that the consumer is always inspired. I was incredibly proud to debut my first collection at Miami Swim Week in July of 2019, followed by New York Fashion Week in September, to high acclaim. Both collections spanned ultra-flattering swimwear, languid cover-ups and elevated kaftans, all defined by distinctive yarns and considered finishes. But they were distinct in mood, and the process of producing the shows reflected my love of all things film-like.That early love of theatre. For Miami, my team and I created a softer, more sensual, ethereal take of luxury resortwear. For New York’s show, I recreated a flirty, confident 70s mood, inspired by the style icons of the time such as Lauren Hutton, and complete with groovy music, lashes and bouncy wigs. I will continue to devote my time developing my passion for and expertise in knitwear, a cinematic take on fashion fused with a lifelong love of travel, to bring something different to discerning globetrotting women of today. Because as the late designer Kate Spade once said, “Playing dress up begins at age 5, and never truly ends.