While in Sao Paulo a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting designer Martha Medeiros, who, in addition to being one of the sweetest, cutest persons I have ever met, also happens to be one of the most talented and unique designers in the country. In short, I kind of fell in love--both with Martha, and with her clothing. And now that Medeiros' designs will be available for the first time ever in the USA--they debuted at Bergdorf Goodman yesterday--here's why you need to get to know this designer. Stat.
There's a lot of awesome fashion design going on in Brazil, and as the shows during
Apparently in Brazil there is a common saying, "where there is a fishing net there is lace," and the truth of the phrase is clear when Madeiros begins explaining about her town's culture, and the important role lace holds. "This lace is called fillet lace," Madeiros says pointing to a gorgeously embroidered white lace gown, "And the fish women make it, because [the technique was developed from] making fisherman's nets." Lace, it becomes clear, is not just a fabric: It's a way of life--a "part of the culture."
Madeiros herself found a passion for lace at a very young age. "When I was eight years, I make dresses like these for my dolls," she said, gesturing to an array of beautiful lace dresses. "And when I was about 10 years, I open a boutique for dolls--a dolls' boutique!" she says with a grin. (See what we mean? Adorable.)
And while Madeiros has come along way since her dolls' boutique in Maceió, she's stayed true to her heritage. All of her lace is still handmade by the women in the area where she grew up. "We use very traditional techniques, passed on by generations from grandma, to mother, to daughter." Martha will draw the design of the garment, and the women will set to work on crafting the lace in the traditional manner, with hands furiously working the wooden bilros--sometimes as many as 100 at a time--around their lacemaker's pillow.
Madeiros is certainly a champion of tradition, but she's also an innovator. The designer has created several new lace designs--one of which has colored flowers and leaves--as well as incorporated new materials, such as metallic leather or pearls. She's also known for inventively mixing different kinds of lace, to create a new patchwork design--some of her dresses contain over 37 different kinds of handmade lace! To give you an idea of how much painstaking work goes into creating such an intricate garment: A lot. Most of Madeiros' designs take at least three months to create, with anywhere between 3-30 women working on it. For some of her more intricate gowns--like the gorgeous made-to-order wedding dress I saw in her shop--it takes about eight months or a year to complete.
Though, as you can tell, even at a glance, it's well worth the wait.