Interview by: Maria Almenar
Intense, impulsive and somewhat impatient. Born in Barcelona and educated in London. Of both Egyptian and Cantabrian blood. Selim de Somavilla is himself a melting pot of emotions, experiences and nationalities, and this singularity is instilled by his daring designs, in which men and women dress codes combine to create an elegant but casual androgynous style. The young Catalan designer says that he “still has a long way ahead but he is walking in the right direction”.
With his debut at the 080 Barcelona Fashion, Selim de Somavilla obtained for the first time a special mention of the jury thanks to the collection named 'Three Thousand Words', inspired by the American college spirit. For the moment, Selim has graduated with honours, and aims to get a distinction at the next edition of the Catalan fashion event.
Selim, first of all, congratulations! Did you expect to get the mention?
Not at all! Now that a few days have passed, I am starting to get used to it.
I can see you are still euphoric!
Yes, I still feel 'high'! After talking to my friends and my mother I realised how important it has been to make my debut at the 080 with my own collection and to get the special mention. It is a great acknowledgement of my work!
I suppose you will repeat at the 080... What does the Catalan catwalk mean to you?
Of course I will! I think it is a great opportunity to have a show in my city and become well-known. It is something very personal to me, and I feel very happy about being known in Barcelona.
Talk about the distinguished collection, 'Three Thousand Words'. College nostalgia?
Checks are the starting point of the collection. I felt like playing with these elements and detaching them from winter, when this pattern is most commonly seen. I also didn't want to follow any structured designings. For this reason, I gave the checks a turn and I mixed them with tropical patterns that refresh and rejuvenate the looks. On the other side, as you well said, the collection draws its inspiration from the American high school style. I wanted to reflect the melancholy of the end of the summer and the return to the books. It is a teenager dream that follows the spirit of 'Grease'.
Which are the identifying features of Selim de Somavilla?
I dress elegant men that have a feminine touch, and also masculinized women, rather rebellious. The truth is I love ambiguity! In the fabrics, colours, combinations... I design garments that are somewhat luxurious but are not too formal. I love the casual-but-smart looks.
You also make accessories, like bags and shoes. How can you manage all the work?
It is getting more and more difficult! I like to make whole outfits, including the accessories. However, I am delegating more and more some work to trustworthy designers, because my aim is to focus in the clothes. For example, Natalio Martín collaborated with the footwear in my last two collections.
You are young and are starting to get projection. Do you think you still have to mature?
During the first years I focused in projecting an identity and defining a style. It is true that I still lack experience, but I see my career as a progression. Every show is a new learning and I keep improving.
Which is your unresolved matter?
Currently, the commercialisation. I am looking for new points of sale. I still have a long way in that sense.
Would you refuse part of your creativity in order to become more commercial?
Yes, as long as I am satisfied with my designs. What I will not renounce to is to my style in order to sell. Never!
Which are your most immediate goals?
I only contemplate short-term goals. Now I want to open the online shop. I also have a new point of sale in Gràcia and I am working on the photoshoots for the catalogue. I don't know, I find it difficult to imagine what will I be doing in one year. Can you believe that I did not even think of participating in the 080 some months ago? Even less I imagined I would get the mention!
You live for the moment but I am sure you have a dream.
To consolidate my firm, although I also recognise that I would like to get a job as a creative for a luxury brand for men.
Come what may, isn't it?
Exactly. I have no intentions of leaving my brand but I also have to see the opportunities that are offered to me. Never say never!