The only thing that could delight woman more than being dressed by a great designer, is to be dressed by the two designers at the same time. This may be a part of the secret success formula of the designer power duo – twins Iñaki and Aitor Muñoz of Ailanto, based in Barcelona. Their long and exciting career, as well as the customer’s portfolio, including princess Letizia, proves they know how to please the high class women. At the Smell of Jasmine interview, Aitor shared what inspires them both, as well as their concerns in the present fashion world.
There are you and your twin brother Iñaki behind the fashion design company Ailanto. How do you deal with the problems, usual in the family relationships, like tensions or competition? Do each of you have a certain role?
I would say, it’s a benefit for us that we are twins. We both compensate something to each other. As I am more classic and calm, Iñaki is more alternative. He proposes volumes and colors. I’m a bit more sober while he is a little more daring in his designs. We both contribute to the creative process of designing. Iñaki is the head of the Design department and I manage sales and expansion as well.
You are really close to the art. Your fall/winter 2016-17 collection was also inspired by work of the artist Lawren Harris. Could you describe your creative process from the first inspiration to the materialization of the idea into the product?
We develop our own prints from the idea of the collection, that references to artists. In the case of Lawren Harris, we started with the selection of his landscape paintings. Then we developed our own view of his creative universe. We build prints where the landscape changes colors with the different daylight and prints with botanical details.
“We are worried about the speed of the fashion world today, and how customers want to buy the collections at the day of the fashion show.”
It is known, that your designs reference to the avant-garde art. How can busy designers find the time to see exhibitions, watch movies or read books, which is absolutely necessary for your own creative work?
We take advantage of our trips and the weekends, to visit exhibitions and enrich our creative world by travelling outside Barcelona. For example, we had been visiting private and historical gardens around Europe for more than a year. It’s really an important part of the creative process, to visit new places.
Which countries you find inspiring, when you travel?
Recently it was our visit to Oxfordshire gardens in the north of London. That gardens together with the reference to the work of the English painter David Hockney, became inspiration for developing our last Spring-Summer Collection.
Colors and patterns have always been crucial for your designs. Where and how the material you use for the dresses, is produced?
There are a lot of textiles we develop exclusively with our producers. Almost all of them are high quality materials, produced in Italy. We try to make sure all the processes involved are environmentally friendly and aiming to reduce the carbon footprint. Therefore we prefer natural fabrics, yarns and materials provided by the European Union suppliers.
“Each woman must be faithful to her own style. If you have enough personality, you don’t accept a bad advice.”
Do you think a designer should fully reflect desires of the clients in their work, or do you prefer convincing them about your vision, despite their first resistance?
Our customers know what they want and we work to create a universe they can enjoy every day. It is important to translate what people on the street proposed. We also need garments favor worldwide. We try to adapt to each audience as we produce clothes for the different markets.
What a woman needs, to have a great style?
It’s important to follow fashion, but not as a victim. Each woman must be faithful to her own style. If you have enough personality, you don’t accept a bad advice. Every woman has to have the character to know how she sees herself and how to defend her own style.
You have been working in the fashion industry since the 90s. How have the industry and your clients’ preferences changed since that time, in your opinion?
The competition is growing and the fashion world is faster than ever. But we are not young designers anymore. We have loyal customers that have been working with us from the beginning. Our brand is well recognized. We go to Paris every season to show our collections in a fair event during the Fashion Week, so this way we stay on the eyes of the public.
What is your way to really differentiate from your competitors in the times, when it is so much “fashionable” being a fashion designer?
Normally we develop around six different patterns and prints every season. That’s our differentiation from other brands. Exclusive prints that we create for every new collection.
What in the fashion industry does bother you these days?
We are worried about the speed of the fashion world today, and how customers want to buy the collections at the day of the fashion show. Works, which are more artisanal, like ours, can’t join this fashion circuit.
What is your most favorite and the least favorite part of the process, from searching the inspiration to the launch of the new collection at the fashion show?
The favorite part is to create our own exclusive prints, transform our vision into designs. The less favorite part is the rush of the fashion world today.
Many successful designers are famous for the broad audience, knowing their work, but inside, a lot of them are rather introvert and do not like to be exposed. Can you enjoy the attention of media and the public?
Definitely, the part of work we enjoy most is the creative development. But our work was awarded by the recognized fashion magazines several times. The true is, whenever we get a prize, we are thrilled. It is a bit like the moment when you see that your work is appreciated. I think it’s also very important because jury members are always people from the industry, fashion journalists, editors and publishers.
Name: Aitor Muñoz
Place of birth: Bilbao, Spain
Occupation: Fashion Designer
Ailanto History: Aitor Muñoz, together with his twin brother Iñaki Muñoz founded Ailanto in the beginning of 90s in Barcelona. The Ailanto womenswear collections have been sold internationally since 1999, with acclaimed catwalk presentations in the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Madrid. In 2010, Ailanto opened the first boutique in Barcelona, followed by the boutique Ailanto in Madrid, two years later. Iñaki and Aitor as the Ailanto designers received the Best Spanish Designer award from Glamour magazine and the LLongueras prize for the Best Designer Collection. In 2009, Ailanto was awarded the Prix Marie Claire for Best National Designer. The brand has exhibited its creations at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York, the Cervantes Institute in Tokyo, the Spanish embassies in London and New York and the Decorative Arts Museum in Moscow. Ailanto has designed fashion and lifestyle product lines for Sargadelos, Naf Naf, Cerabella, Hazel, DAC, Santa & Cole. The two AKOB collaborated with Campari, TATA Motors, Lladró, Nespresso, Chupa-Chups, W Hotels and L’Oréal.
Photos – AILANTO, Interview by Daniela Rifai for the Smell of Jasmine