It probably was a good call for London-based designer Paula Canovas del Vas to show her ready-to-wear collection during Paris Couture Week, a traditional setting that made her high-voltage silhouettes all the more striking.
Inspired by the surrealist work of film director Alejandro Jodorowsky, Canovas del Vas, a Central Saint Martins graduate, played with volumes, proportions and materials with abandon. There were bright orange fringe dresses, faux fur skirts, short coats and gloves, exaggerated bunched-up shoulders and a couple of cycling shorts. Technical materials like Lycra were paired with wool creations embossed with giant flower motifs, an old technique popular in the South of Spain, where the designer hails from.
Hair was twisted in aerials sticking up from the models’ heads and curving devil’s horns protruded from the front of tops. Mohair shoes — the “Diablo” flats and boots, real showstoppers — were a true work of art, made by eight different artisans.
“There is a real sense of craft to what I do, everything is handmade,” Canovas del Vas said backstage. Bringing together the OTT aesthetic of East London, where her studio is based, and the traditional craftsmanship of Murcia, the Southern Spain region where her family is from, the designer’s creations are both an accurate reflection of her eclectic background and an authentic call for empowerment.
“As a woman designing for women, I feel like I have a duty,” the designer said about her ballsy looks. “When you want to do something that’s empowering, people normally put women in suits.” Blown-up silhouettes in eye-grabbing colors prove to be just as effective, and a lot more exciting.