Evie Kissack chats to Caro Gomez about her hand-painted and embroidered wearable works of art.

 

How would you describe your design style? 

Ethnic, eclectic, and full of joy, colour, and playfulness. I often say it’s like Frida Kahlo and Natalie Du Pasquier (from the Memphis movement) had a love child. My style features roomy silhouettes that actively encourage free movement with uplifting palettes and smile-inducing prints. 

 

Your new collection is now available online. Who is the collection aimed for and what’s the concept behind the pieces? 

My pieces are for women who love to dress stylishly but not necessarily fashionably, for women who love well-made things with an origin and a story, and they wear overstated hues unapologetically. She’s not afraid to take centre stage, and wants to be heard. Each piece has a thread of playfulness running through it, From it being painted whilst I dance to my favourite songs to having vagina embroidery that you’re not totally sure what they are, but when you know–you laugh cheekily–because you know something no one else does. I had a customer purchase a vagina tee with the phrase “Heaven is Here” and loved the idea of wearing it at work and no one else knowing what the embroidery actually represented. Brilliant!

 

Your Latin American roots have had a big impact upon your artistic point of view – how has this translated into your new collection?

My work is inspired by the depths of tropical rainforests and the hyper-saturated colours of Latin America. My memories often look like that. Harsh light, strong shadows and hyper-realistic colours. Latin America, despite its “macho” culture, holds women and the matriarchy is very high regard. We see it in literature like Isabel Allende’s House of Sprits (one of my old-time favourite books) and within my family there have always been very strong female characters. Furthermore, there is a strong culture of handmade (it’s about being resourceful more than anything) – way before it became fashionable. All those things have informed my point of view, which is why I work primarily in raw cotton. Or what is known here as calico, which is traditionally used here for toiles and samples (disposable). However, in El Salvador, it’s used very often for clothing as it’s durable, and has a lovely off-white finish and you’re still able to see some ‘bits’ of cotton seeds within the textiles warp and weft.

 

Your pieces are created by Latin women in London – why was this an important creative choice for you? 

There is a big community of Latin American people in London. Many women struggle to integrate mostly because of the language and so they end up doing the stereotypical cleaning jobs. Nothing wrong with that, but I know how much talent and creativity our region has to offer. And I want the world to see and appreciate it too. We’re creating clothes for life, not just for the runway. And the women that bring each piece to life are true artists with threads, and I believe that by supporting one another we can lift each other up. Many of these women come here with their teenage daughters and they also need to see that the opportunities for them to grow are abundant and endless. One of my proudest moments was leading a textile design workshop within a school in the borough of Lambeth in London for kids with diverse backgrounds. Three of the girls that attended the workshop contacted me a later date, saying how inspired they’d felt and that for a long time they could see themselves following their creative dreams. I’m hoping they’ll join CARO GOMEZ soon!

 

What designers have influenced or inspired you throughout your career? 

Frida Kahlo, Camille Walala, Georgia O’Keffe, Meret Oppenheim, Johanna Toruño 

 

You’ve described your clothes as ‘trans-seasonal’ – how have you ensured you have designed clothes to suit all seasons? 

I’m not sure I’ve made it a conscious decision; I just think seasonality is an imposed parameter that was valid (maybe) before the Internet globally connected us. I can sell all over the world and seasons are not the same everywhere. Plus, I think it fuels the fast fashion machine –produce more and produce quick–and we’ve seeing a huge trend moving away from this mentality, which is great. For example, my A-line midi skirt can be worn on its own with a cotton tee and sandals, or over thick tights or trousers with boots and a warm turtle neck. When I came to London I had no winter clothes so I’d just layer up with my ‘summer’ clothes and I’d be warm. Ok, I did have buy a coat and an umbrella.

 

When did you first realise you wanted to be a creator? 

I’ve known it since I started doodling patterns and fashion sketches in my notebooks at the age of 13. However, after being rejected from the Central St Martins womenswear course and being told I wasn’t a designer I let go of that for the past 10 years. I thought I wasn’t creative enough. Turns out you can try and hide your creative talents as much as possible but somehow, they will come out. Last year those creative whispers became so loud I couldn’t ignore them anymore. I think it was fear of rejection that paralyzed me for so long. But the fear of living my life half assedly was even more scary. 

 

 

See the full collection at www.carogomez.com

 

@carogomez_london

 

 

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