CIIN’s Exclusive Interview with Designer Constanza Oquendo
Constanza Oquendo is a name to be reckoned with and memorised, an up and coming Latin American designer who is searching for authenticity in a world taken over by trends. Constanza found her voice by blending her love of art, architecture and fashion to create timeless designs for the strong and powerful woman. CIIN had a chat with Constanza to learn all about her fashion label, her plans, and the name behind it all.
1 || Establishing your brand at the tender age of 25, how were you able to set it apart from other labels in such a competitive market?
Analyzing the global fashion scene, I felt that I needed to bridge the gap between eccentricity and wearability without falling back on trends or sacrificing aesthetics. I understand our clients’ needs but I do not follow trends, adopt them or reinterpret them. I believe that when you are offering a Iuxurious product, it has to be exclusive and exceptional while maintaining its wearability and elegance.
2 || Can you tell us a little bit about your start?
I developed an interest in fashion and a passion to create from an early age. I pursued a Bachelor Degree in Media Communication without sacrificing my true calling, thus simultaneously took a Basic Tailoring and Pattern Making course. A year later, I was managing a small workshop from my mother’s apartment, who later became my business partner (and who inherited her sewing skills from her Spanish mother). By word of mouth we created a loyal clientele in Caracas.
After establishing my company and team in Venezuela I had to move to NYC in 2015, to attend the Pratt Institute’s Fashion New Media Graduate Program. I also had the opportunity to work with companies such as Zac Posen and Coach.
3 || How do you utilize your BA in Media Communication in your line of work?
I certainly believe my Bachelor Degree provided me with essential tools to manage my own business. In addition to passion, perseverance and hard work, the successful development of my brand depended on the integral knowledge I obtained from pursuing such a degree.
4 || Being such an art enthusiast how do you incorporate art in your designs while still maintaining functionality and form?
I am inspired by art; I always look for abstract architecture through my lens, and I believe that defines my style. Aiming for individuality while maintaining practicality and excellence is quite a challenge, and I like to believe that our techniques capture the essence of “complex simplicity”. I am fascinated by the composition of lines, shadows and light, that result in geometric, symmetric and abstract shapes, and this is hugely reflected in my designs.
5 || You design for the strong, successful, inspiring woman, tell us who inspires Constanza?
My inspiration comes from the contemporary woman; the female traveler who appreciates beauty and collects treasures. The woman who craves originality and strives for brilliance . She looks for quality and craftsmanship and works discreetly to attain her goals. She succeeds in all her endeavours and her clothes are a reflection of all that she is.
6 || What did it mean for the brand to be labeled as “one of 10 designers to keep an eye on from around the world?” by Harper’s Bazaar Latin America?
It was incredibly exciting for us to receive this validation from one of Latin America’s biggest publications. This strengthened our commitment and motivation to keep moving forward in our plans for the international expansion of the brand.
7 || How does the South American fashion scene differ from and blend into the international fashion scene?
Currently, the Latin American market is gaining attention and international recognition and I believe we have arrived at the fashion scene to stay. Latin American designers offer a fresh and innovative outlook to the fashion scene with their exotic touches and tropical spirit. We Venezuelans are hardworking, resilient people, and despite our circumstances we have great optimism and lots of love for what we do which means we can overcome all adversity.
8 || Tell us a little bit about Constanza the person?
I love my husband, my nieces and my family above all. I’m a chocolate/sweets addict. I’m an aesthetics enthusiast and extremely detail-oriented. I have an easy going personality, always have positive energy and I’m ready to overcome obstacles. I love to paint with acrylic on canvas in my free time; I’m the proud painter of all artwork hanging on my walls. I love photography, architecture and interior design, the last of which I would like to pursue as a career alongside my brand someday. My favourite thing in the world is traveling. I enjoy museums, reading, restaurants and going to the movies.
9 || How did you choose your muses for your striking 17/18 fall-winter collection?
I have used my creativity to share empowering female statements from the very beginning an I’m a true believer in women empowerment. Four powerful female advocates inspired our Fall-winter 17/18 collection (and possibly our brand as a whole): Amelia Earhart, Bette Davis, Peggy Guggenheim, and of course Virginia Woolf. The first flew solo across the Atlantic; the second fought for equal pay for actresses, the third cut out her path through the art scene which was dominated by men; and the last one encouraged every woman to claim her own space and seek economic freedom. These women embody the female warrior; she is cultivated, analytical, and independent.
10 || How do you utilize social media for your exposure?
I use Social Media to increase brand awareness and keep our audiences close. It is a channel for vocalising our messages and philosophy as a brand . I also highly appreciate the opportunity social media provides us for interacting with our followers and keeping them up updated.
11 || How were you able to pull off geometric cuts done in lush fabrics in your designs?
The brand’s core signature style is inspired by the encounter between fashion, architecture, and art, producing wearable timeless pieces that transcend the trends. Our strength lies in incorporating art into tailoring, while achieving a delicate balance between contrasting elements of femininity and masculinity, modernity and classics, organic and refined.
12 || What design elements do you feel the strong, successful, and powerful woman looks for?
The CO woman is intelligent, strong and confident, she is sensual yet conservative at times. She has no interest in pursuing mediocre trends; she values quality and has a singular distinct taste. She enjoys the brand’s modern outlook and timeless appeal, and revels in collecting pieces that will stand out.
13 || A typical question, but where do you see your label in five years?
We would have increased brand awareness and become part of the new generation of internationally acclaimed emerging fashion designers; entered new markets such as the European, Asian and Middle Eastern markets; strengthened our efforts to become an entirely sustainable brand. We would scale our operations in North America and Latin America, and would eventually expand to new product lines as accessories and menswear.
14 || Is the Middle Eastern market included in your plans for expansion?
Without a doubt! The Middle Eastern market is among the fastest growing markets worldwide and we want to miss out on this opportunity.