December 8, 2023

Narciso Rodriguez for Zara. He has fabric the label. Impossible not to read it, at first, as a train wreck: the independent designer who has made durability/timelessness his credo and fortune in the face of the spiky overproduction textile emporium that feeds the consumer market, two business models with different speeds suddenly marching down the same path. That they have not derailed is something that few would have ventured. And yet, there they are, gathered in what is already going through one of the luckiest meetings that the fashion industry remembers in time. Because it confirms that, indeed, good design can be for everyone. In the case at hand, more than twenty emblematic pieces —dating between 1997 and the first decade of the 2000s— by the American creator of Cuban origin who gave minimalism a letter of sexy nature, available on the web and in some physical stores of the Galician brand starting this Thursday, September 8.

“Zara is more fashionable than much of the fashion that floods the market today,” says the exclusive designer who has seen his desire to dress globally come true. “The truth is that I have always aspired to that: to make wearable clothes, with substance, for many people,” he concludes. Narciso Rodriguez (New Jersey, 62 years old) has been invariably associated with power and fame since he created Carolyn Bessette’s wedding dress for her wedding to John John Kennedy in 1996, while still working for Calvin Klein. It was the beginning of an exemplary long-distance career at the service of women and their clothing needs, recognized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) honorary award in 2017 and now celebrating a particularly sensitive capsule collection for him.

The model Natalia Vodianova, with one of the Narciso Rodriguez designs for Zara launched in September 2022.
The model Natalia Vodianova, with one of the Narciso Rodriguez designs for Zara launched in September 2022.Craig McDean (Courtesy of Zara)

“I have been friends with the Ortega family for many years. Marta and Flori (Flora Pérez, second wife of Amancio Ortega and mother of the current president of Inditex) are very fans of mine and have always shown me a lot of respect, which is why I was moved that they wanted to pay tribute to my story”, grants the also creator. of the lingerie-style suit in which Marta Ortega married the rider Sergio Álvarez in 2012 for the first time.

Of course: the slip dressthat little bias-cut dress with the look of a nightgown that made minimalism sensual in the late 1990s on the adolescent figure of Kate Moss, is the piece of resistance by Narciso Rodriguez x Zara. “I was presented with a huge scrapbook, with photos of what they thought were my iconic designs. I have never seen so much energy in a team”, he recalls, still amazed by the knowledge of the facts and the research work of very young professionals. “I gave them the original patterns and the contacts of the companies that provided me with the fabrics, and the result has exceeded my expectations. There are pieces like the semi-transparent black sweater, extremely difficult to reproduce, that have turned out even better than my originals. And the double-faced coat with side slits, to which I have added a new leather belt, is simply fabulous, worthy of admiration even hanging on the hanger”, he continues.

In total, 25 models, with prices between 59 and 299 euros, recovered in full Y2K nostalgic fever: “The idea, the beginning of the conversation, was to celebrate my archive, starting from 1997 (founding year of his eponymous firm) and then reviewing 1999, 2000, 2004… but making everything look like it was created in 2022 in the end. You know, good design never goes out of style”.

  Narciso Rodriguez, at a gala in New York in March 2018.
Narciso Rodriguez, at a gala in New York in March 2018.Daniel Zuchnik (Wire Image)

This collaboration is actually a sum and continues in the new textile-commercial policy of the first brand of the group founded by Amancio Ortega, focused on quality rather than quantity since it was announced that his second daughter and heiress he was going to assume the presidency of Inditex. Thus, in just over a year, Zara has broadened its horizons by allying itself with young creators such as the Chinese Susan Fang or the Mexican Víctor Barragán and international cult brands such as the Everlast sportswear, the conceptual AderError or the very urban Rhude Everlast. In addition, it has served as an incubator for students from design schools such as the Italian Istituto Marangoni, the Tokyo Bunka, the London Chelsea College of Arts and the Vigo Faculty of Fine Arts. “You have to understand that this is a company that has changed a lot. It’s a huge machine, perfectly oiled, and I find learning from it fascinating. Imagine what it has meant for someone like me, who comes from working with a small team of seamstresses and I am used to other rhythms…”, relates the creator.

The model Natalia Vodianova, with a sweater and pants by Narciso Rodriguez for Zara.
The model Natalia Vodianova, with a sweater and pants by Narciso Rodriguez for Zara.Craig McDean (Courtesy of Zara)

At this point, Rodriguez has an anecdote to share, to say the least curious: “The first time I had the opportunity to visit the Zara factories was about 12 years ago. Back then nobody talked about sustainability, but materials and fabrics were already being recycled there”. Says a seasoned designer along with Donna Karan and Cerruti, for example, and who became Loewe’s creative director between 1997 and 2001. “I really believe that they are betting on good fashion, that they are not doing it just for pose or for figure”, he insists, while recalling that his collaboration with the Galician textile giant is 100% sustainable, “because it is about timeless and durable design”.

The same style that once captivated Michelle Obama, Claire Danes, Jessica Alba, Juliana Margulies, Sarah Jessica Parker… “I say that I make ‘a wardrobe for the rest of your life’, and that your daughters will inherit it. The same thing happens with my line of perfumes”, concludes the creator, who only works to measure after the covid-19 pandemic forced him to close his shop. atelier. “During the confinement I had the opportunity to talk to myself a lot and rethink things. I have already sacrificed a lot for fashion. My priority now is my children (twins Ivy Carolyn and Callum). For today’s fashion I no longer have time or patience”.

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