About me …
I always thought of the Fashion industry as my industry. My great grandparents emigrated from Italy to Argentina in the 1900 bringing their textile knowledge and traditions with them. They built a life for themselves in the “new world” by weaving thick woolen blankets in their factory in Villa Alsina, Buenos Aires. My mother remembers going to Italy for six months in the 1940’s when she was only four years old while my grandfather acquired weaving machines and technical equipment and support for their factory in Argentina.
At age 18 I started my Fashion Design degree in The UBA, Universidad de Buenos Aires. That was the beginning of an exciting career in the fashion industry which saw me acting as a fashion stylist, fashion editor, fashion PR, fashion designer, fashion design lecturer, installation artist…and I fell in love with the process of telling my story through cloth. Also, the best part is that by traveling for work and for study within the industry I met my husband.
I was at the London College of Fashion doing a “Study Abroad Program in Fashion Merchandising and Communication” and David was doing a Marketing paper at the same College. He had been sent by his family’s company, the largest New Zealand men’s shirt manufacturer at the time (L.R.Wishart LTD), to support his knowledge of the industry.
We both moved to New Zealand in the mid 1990’s at a time in which local manufacturing was struggling due to the removal of import tariffs, which provided an opportunity to investigate importing as an extension of the manufacturing operation. My husband focused on numbers and logistics and I focused on design and styling. As part of our sourcing role for both textiles and made up garments we traveled extensively to Asia. It became apparent to us how different the workers’ environment was. My father in law always prided himself, just like my great and grandparents did back in Argentina, of treating their workers fairly and justly. This was the start of my inner conflict. Change was happening all around me. Globalization was affecting my friends in the industry back home, it was certainly affecting my husband’s company and family in New Zealand and was affecting the way I was perceiving my role as a designer. How was the fashion industry changing in this way? Was this an industry that I wanted to be working in? I used cloth and colour to start expressing my feelings, developing installations which told my immigration stories and were based on very slow processes such as print and textile collage.
Back in New Zealand and due to the local rising costs and the lower import pricing it was an increasing challenge to keep the manufacturing plant going. It inevitably closed its doors in mid 2000’s.
With a heavy heart but still with a lot of passion I devoted myself to teaching and to my art/design practice. I also became a Children’s author and illustrator which allowed me to celebrate cultural values and diversity through the medium of writing. Process and Empathy, which had always been at the core of my practice, flourished as concepts to be developed further within my own practice and my role as a mother, lecturer, writer and consumer. As I explored different sustainable practices in my work it became apparent to me that there is a very valuable message within slow thoughtful fashion. A message that needs to be spread further. I also became an advocate of immigrant women using cloth as a medium to tell their stories, sustain their craft and celebrate their language and culture.
Sustaining and revaluing cultural practices through fashion has become a crusade of mine. It always was (unconsciously at the beginning) and will always be. Now, with the current fast fashion scenario I feel it’s a MUST to use my knowledge and experience to contribute to the fashion industry in a positive way, to sustain its production as a valuable tool and vehicle for collaboration, for exploration and communication of cultural identity, social awareness and memory, and above all for cultural appreciation in an way which is respectful of our precious planet boundaries and can be sustained for millions of years to come.
CV: Mother of three, fashion designer, fine artist, fashion design lecturer, fashion sustainability advocate, children’s books author/illustrator, passionate about sustaining textile crafts, creator of The Traveling Sewing Box Project (C), researcher of cultural value and memory in textiles…