With the fashion weeks in full swing I thought I’d feature some of the hottest emerging brands being birthed this season not only in London but also New York. I managed to catch up with Spanish designer Sonia Olla who made her New York fashion week debut this season with her stunning flamenco inspired collection.
Sonia Olla was born and raised in Barcelona where she earned a degree in Spanish Dance and Flamenco at the famous “Instituto de Teatro y Danza” in Barcelona. As a bailaora (dancer), choreographer and director, Ms. Olla has toured the world, and has performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center, among many. Along with her own shows, Ms. Olla choreographs for stars such as Madonna (Rebel Heart Tour) and Ricky Martin (Flamenco choreographer for Lola Lola in All In!) Ms. Olla now explores the art form of fashion to express the passion and strength she exhibits when she dances. Growing up among artisans, who include close family members, she saw firsthand the rich culture and beauty brought to life by traditional Spanish crafts. She now combines these elements to create a luxurious, yet distinctly modern take on femininity and style.
In this interview Sonia shares with us exactly why her brand is truly one of a kind.
I know you studied Spanish Dance and Flamenco at the famous “Instituto de Teatro y Danza” in Barcelona. Can you tell us a bit more about your fashion journey transition and what inspired you to follow this passion?
As I traveled the world dancing in Flamenco companies, I was constantly inspired by world fashion. Expressing yourself is what we do as artists. I began to see this expression more and more in fashion. I grew up around artisans, crafts people who made the mantons and flecos I would dance with. Flamenco uses these elements to enhance the dance, and thus the expression. This is how the inspiration of the brand started, and it just took off from there.
How long have you had your brand? And what are some of the challenges you have experienced?
We started the brand only last year, in 2017. It’s hard to narrow down the challenges! There are tons to choose from – production in Spain while living in New York. Trying out patterns from traditional styles but adding the modernity that is my vision. Also starting out as a new designer, making decisions that affect my whole team. The choices – whether to source in Europe or the US, sizing, measurements, etc. – one affects the other so you can never relax! And also, never compromising our vision. We always want to have our roots and values present in our work.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your new collection and why you decided to showcase during New York Fashion Week?
Our inspiration for the brand is of course Flamenco, and our roots – raices. The first collection really establishes this. We want to show the woman of today in the context of our roots. Strong women, women of character – women who know where they have come from and where they are going.
Showcasing during New York Fashion Week was perfect for this collection. Flamenco is a melting pot of cultures, and so is New York. Our brand takes something traditional and tells the story in an innovative way. New York is all about innovation. I love the energy here, it suits the collection.
What makes your collections unique?
The quality. It really is like wearing pieces of culture. The fabrics are all the highest quality, the details are all handmade, one-of-a-kind and artisan crafted. The crochet and knotted lattices are all done by artisans who grew up with this type of work. Even a simple blouse is not simple, because of the care we put into the patterns and quality of the fabric and manufacturing.
What is the price range of your pieces?
Well, we are not cheap. We can’t be, because we believe not only in providing quality craftsmanship and design, but in paying people properly for the work they contribute. Buyers should contact us directly.
What would you consider to be some of your brand highlights thus far?
I love our jumpsuits. We use the traditional embroidered Manton de Manilla and match it to luxurious silk crepe. It is so modern and full of the essence of our brand. Of course I love the bata de cola (that the long, tiered ruffle skirt that was featured at the end), because it is so Flamenca, but we have made it into something that would fit right in at a Hollywood premiere. And the skirt-pant, with the bolero, is really special. This is something I hope to see women wearing on the street, shopping or enjoying a day out.
Where can your pieces be purchased from?
We are looking for buyers! This show was our launch, so stand by – we hope to provide that information soon. In the mean time you can contact us directly at www.bysoniaolla.com.
What’s your favourite quote?
Coco Chanel said “Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” I love this, because it is not only relevant to fashion, but to the inspiration of our line, Flamenco. Flamenco takes all the tradition, the souls and heart of people from long ago, but it is always relevant and alive. Flamenco’s roots are the base of our style, and we express it depending on the fashion.
And finally when you’re not designing you’re…
Dancing, choreographing and teaching Flamenco! Art comes to you in many forms, and I love to fuse fashion and dance. Flamenco is filled with passion, and so is fashion, so it is an amazing mix. When I dance I become inspired to design, and when I design I’m inspired to dance! It is all about that passion and fire. Also, my students inspire me to keep pushing, keep going to the next level.
To learn more about the brand visit http://www.bysoniaolla.com