Manuel Bolaño: “I'd rather dedicate my collections to the people I love”

18 Mar 2013 - 00:00
Manuel Bolaño. Pic: Marc González Camps

Interview by Maria Almenar


Introverted, meticulous and persevering. True to his principles and his friends. Manuel Bolaño is a Barcelonian with a Galician soul. This context between two lands let him develop his powerful creative machinery. Memories, traditions, his grandmother's crochet work and his mum's embroidery; all this references are recurrent in the collections he has presented at the 080 catwalk since 2008, and have become an intrinsic part of the designs he calls 'Prêt-à-Couture'. Far from being stuck to the past, Manuel Bolaño looks towards the future with new projects in order to reach an international market which “understands better the volume and colour” of his garments. Meanwhile, the designer is already building up the next spring/summer 2014 collection, that will be dyed in a trendy colour: black. 


'Rêves d'un voyage' collection. Pic: Marc González Camps

You are a Barcelonian person with a Galician spirit. To what extent has this double origin marked your designs?

You can feel it in all my works. From Galicia come the croche, the handcrafted garments and the embroidery. They remind me of my grandmother and mother. I get inspired by the traditions of my homeland —the widows' mourning, the Carnival, etc—, the trades that are disappearing and the childhood and teenage memories that marked me. The Catalan part is transmited by the avantgarde and the design of my collections.

In 'Rêves d'un voyage', Galicia is not the focus of your inspiration but a friend of Barcelona. Is that a turning point?

Yes, I changed my mind. Now I rather dedicate my collections to the people I know and appreciate, those who are really supporting me. For the moment, I prefer to keep apart the memories of bad experiences or people who have hurt me or approached me to take advantage of my situation.

Did your friend enjoy your collection? In what aspects did he identify with it?

He said it's one of the best! And he is very critical (he says while laughing). The collection is like a self-portrait: yellow predominates because it is his favourite colour, kimonos and all the Eastern references are present due to his journeys to China and India, the exotic make-up and hairstyles make reference to the African tribes and the stories he told me about the continent, the veils are the metaphor of he being so shy and always avoiding being in pictures... Everything has a meaning.

Have you thought already to whom are you going to dedicate the new spring/summer 2014 collection that will be showcased at the 080 Barcelona Fashion?

Yes. He is a design student and makes me think of me when I was younger. He is shy, contradictory and has a powerful imaginary. I think I will focus the collection from a darker side than the last one.

So we can foretell a dark summer.

Black will predominate in the next collection. This doesn't mean that all I do is always very dark. For the moment, I have made four out of ten collections in this colour. I will also count on the collaboration of the artist Miguel Leal but, for the time being, I can't give you any more details (he smiles).


'Rêves d'un voyage' collection. Pic: Marc González Camps


We will see the results within a few months. By the way, would you paint the fashion field in the same colour being aware of the current economic situation?

That is not my case. I can't say everything goes well: purchases have lowered as well as the distribution points, there exists more fear and uncertainity... but, despite this, I am getting by.

How do you do it?

I do a bit of everything: fashion works, speeches in design schools, occasional collaborations... I combine everything and I do other things that won't hinder my creative work. I will also try to sell online now, so I get to know my consumers and sales field better. I may get surprised!

I suppose you awaken the interest of the Asian market.

In the international market, unlike in the national, creativity is more valued. The fact that the garments have a story behind them is more important abroad. In Asia, this concept is well understood and they accept volume and colour better than we do. In my last collection, for example, polka dots and yellow had a great success, and the Asians won't wear anything without good reason: they study carefully their clothing and they consider it even more if it has a meaning behind.

And haven't you ever thought of going to the East?

Yes, I planned to go to Tokio, but we are changing plans to stay here, in Barcelona. I am fine for the moment, but I don't dismiss going abroad. We will see.

A latent dream, like the one of having a fashion show in Paris.

Yes, I am a dreamer (he smiles). I'd also like to own a bigger studio or to establish my own shop, but I would not set it in Spain!

Definitely, Manuel, Tokio awaits you.

The last collection: 'Rêves d'un voyage' by Manuel Bolaño. Pic: Marc González Camps


Photos: Marc Gonzàlez Camps