Sometimes a mere message on Instagram can start a chain on events leading you to a path in life you never thought you could see, let alone follow.
This was the case with me and Inés Figaredo, the whimsical, romantic, breath-of-fresh-air woman whom I virtually “met” courtesy of a good friend a lot of months ago – and finally met in Paris during the latest fashion week. Here’s our story.
I had seen her bags already (Instagram is really a virtual village) while scrolling through images, attracted by the unusual shapes and details (did anyone say eyes all over a bag?). After seeing men and women in cages, carousels and caramelized apples, I was beyond curious to know what was going on in the head of the designer. What was her story? What were her interests? Was this a hobby for her, or an all-consuming need to express the obviously unique universe she had inside?
Of course, I turned to Google. It told me the basics, and it told me that she use to be a lawyer. Up to then my only lawyer images were my own (who’s as far from bags as it gets) or Fashion Lawyer, who on the other hand had a passion for all things hissy and dead (read exotic skins) but as long as others designed them. So my head was spinning: how do you go from serious “this is a men’s world” business to designing bags? What pushes you?
[ What I did not realize at the time was the fact that the story hit close to home in many ways. Serious going to frivolous? Wasn’t that what I was doing when I started Lady Violante? Wasn’t “she” just another aspect of me, waiting to come out? Wasn’t that a burst of creativity too, coming from a very dark place called Yugoslavia and trying to leave a mark in a world that was so obviously functioning on stereotypes and pre-established schemes, as far from me as it could get?]
Contact was made between me and her team, and soon enough a big box came to my doorstep, revealing stuff my little girls’ dreams were made of. A blood red silk box with a black ribbon, and inside roses petals covering a cage. With a blond woman inside, wearing a trench coat. Oh yes, and underneath that coat the lady is naked.
Aren’t we all naked underneath our glossy appearance? How many layers does one need to peel to discover the real us? Do we strip voluntarily for some, vulnerable and exposed to emotional turmoil that will surely follow? And more: aren’t we – at some point of our lives – living in an (albeit golden) cage? Don’t we all want to break free and shout to the world, “here I am!”? The symbolism was not lost on me, and it was hitting home – hard!
I do not know how you behave when you have a new object, in this case a bag: I normally cannot wait to take it out for a spin. Any occasion will do! After all, that’s what bags are, everyday objects to be used and “abused” in order to make us feel good. Yet somehow I found myself unable to do just that: no occasion was good enough for this piece of art. My brain was spinning, lost in the symbolic of the object and my eyes followed, admiring the craft and the beauty of the details. I wanted desperately to show it off, yet I could not find anything worthy.
Some time passed, and it was time to go to Paris and to see PFW. The Figaredo camp let me know Inés would be there too, and my heart started jumping: finally I would see the woman behind my obsession! Immediately, I contacted my Parisian lady photographer and I started feverishly imagining outfits.
Somehow, Paris makes every outfit and every story beautiful and special.
Under a rainy Paris sky I arrived at the Figaredo temporary showroom, and my inner child got free among these little wonders:
Soon enough a dreamy lady in soft pink hues – and with utterly irresistible cotton-candy soft pink hair – arrived to greet me in a typically warm Spanish manner. She had her family with her, and I had to recover from the shock of seeing she had children and looked like a girl herself. (her skin… I am green with envy! )
We had wine in a nearby trendy hotel, and as minutes went by I kept thinking: this woman understands me and I understand her. It’s utter madness that we just met: she’s a soul sister!
She came from a family with very high standards and serious expectations of what she should do, and she did it for a while – and then decided she would do her own thing on her own terms. She was following her dream, and allowing herself to be just as flamboyant and pink as she wanted. What was not to love?
And last but not least, she dressed fabulously, knew her fashion religiously and could not care less what people would think. The latter, well, let’s just say pretty much applies to who I am.
What did I take home after this Parisian meeting?
Reality and distance kicked in and I haven’t met Inés since, but I think of her like you would do of a dear friend who you love implicitly and whose name on your phone screen always puts a smile on your face. I am glad to know she is conquering the fashion world on her own terms, and wildly curious as to what her brilliant mind will give birth to in the future.
And the cage? It sits pretty in my bedroom, on my vanity desk, displayed as one should do with art objects. I look at it, I play with it, I admire it. And every day, I try not to forget the meaning of the cage and the lady inside. Inés taught me that.
PHOTOGRAPHER FOR LADY V: YAVIDAN CASTILLO (VIOLETTA_PURPLE)
OUTFIT: COAT AND DRESS CHRISTIAN DIOR, SHOES MANOLO BLAHNIK, BAG INÉS FIGAREDO
PHOTOS OF M.ME FIGAREDO COURTESY OF INÉS FIGAREDO PRESS TEAM.