"The Honorary President has sustained some power," laughs actor, director, singer and, yes, Honorary President of Miami Fashion Week, Antonio Banderas, after shushing a roomful of boisterous guests in the VIP room backstage at Ice Palace Film Studios. The mood was especially celebratory culminating in the fourth and final day of Resort 2018 collections from international and locally based designers, including Silvia Tcherassi, whose beautifully woven handbags wowed the audience, "Project Runway" alum Shantall Lacayo, Peruvian designer Yirko Sivirich and New York-based red carpet (and bridal) designer Angel Sanchez, who closed out the festivities.
The CFDA-recognized fashion week is billed as the second-largest in the United States and — like the influencers know — the location is strategic. "Miami is an aspirational city, so anything that happens here is projected in all of South America [as] strongly as in the United States," Banderas says. "So we have that power, too."
The involvement of the "Assassins," "Interview With a Vampire" and "Mask of Zorro" actor was actually a longtime coming — and much less random as you might at first think. Banderas launched his menswear collection in 2016 and has enjoyed success in the fragrance business for over two decades. "Fourteen fragrances, sold in 93 countries — and it's not the fashion world, but it's parallel to the fashion world," he says. Banderas knew the Spanish producers who bought and re-launched Miami Fashion Week in 2015, and they asked him to get involved.
"They told me, 'Can you help us?' I said, 'I don't want to only help you; I want to be part of this," he explains. "I would like to rethink how we're going to do this, besides the pasarela ('runway' in Spanish) and all the glamour and the creativity of the designers. We added some other spaces that I think would be very interesting to have in a fashion week: spaces for debate about sustainability, about exploitation, about many different things we didn't want to hide and turn our face to it."
"At the same time, we don't do it from the point of view of being a freaky hippie that wants to just boycott everything around him to produce a revolution in the world of fashion," he continues. "We want to do it much more as an evolution."
In a timely move, Miami Fashion Week focused on the nexus of sustainability and fashion this year. The week offered three days of Master Classes, open to attendees and Miami Fashion Institute at Miami Dade College students, talks and panels given by experts in the field, including Lucy Lara, Editorial Director of Glamour México and Latin America Condé Nast, Willie Walters, Programme Director of Fashion at Central Saint Martins and Javier Goyeneche, President and Founder of Madrid-based Ecoalf, who riveted the room with a presentation on how his company and foundation upcycles waste, like plastic bottles, fishing nets and rubber tires, into fashion-forward clothing.
"[We're] trying to make a fashion week that [can] compete with the big ones," says Banderas, who sat in on the classes. "We have to be humble, but we are going to see how far we can take this. It's going to take time; it's going to take a lot of effort. We have to become credible and respected, and in order to do that, the only way we can do that is just to commit completely, understand what we're stepping in and actually put a lot of sacrifice and work. For anything in life, actually."
And the actor, who has nine projects in the works right now, definitely understands the diligence and hustle because he's also a humble fashion student enrolled in his second year at Central Saint Martins. The school created a special ongoing five-week "capsules," in which he immerses himself when he's in between acting or directing gigs.
"At the beginning, they almost just kicked me out of the place because it was not normal; somebody knocking on the door at Saint Martins and saying, 'I want to study,'" he laughs. "I'm 55 years old." Banderas aims to finish his degree in about four to five years and focus on menswear. "I thought [it was] the only honest way to do it, because I didn't want to really put my face and my name [on a clothing line] just like everybody else.
Of course, fashion runs in the family. His daughter with ex-wife Melanie Griffith, Stella Banderas-Griffith and stepdaughter Dakota Johnson (along with sister Grace Johnson) gave the Hadids and Gerbers a run for their money for the fashion "It" siblings mantle at the Gucci Cruise 2018 show. And Banderas was actually hoping 20-year-old Banderas-Griffith would catch the fashion bug, instead of an entertainment one.
"In fact, I sometimes still even just push her to go to Central Saint Martins, which would be very paradoxical just to find my daughter studying with me at the same time, at the same university," he laughs. (Aw, so sweet.) But Banderas says the University of Southern California student is more interested in focusing her skills behind the camera. Older sister Dakota, however, has found success onscreen in the "Fifty Shades of Grey" franchise — and caught the attention of the fashion world for her red carpet (and off-duty) looks.
"Dakota [has an eye for fashion] in the way that she dresses. I can see that," Banderas says. "I would love for her to wear some of the [designers] that have [shown at Miami Fashion Week]. Rene Ruiz does beautiful gowns, and a red carpet would help him a lot and it would make her look beautiful."
But he's not about to overstep with any parental fashion suggestions, which never go down well, even if said parent is a superstar in his own right. "She wouldn't go with my own dress [suggestions], if I just dare to jump in that territory — not yet," Banderas laughs. "No, that would require a lot of work."
However, as cool kids tend to do, Dakota, Grace and Banderas-Griffith aren't shy in offering dad their sartorial pro-tips.
"They want papi to be more trendy, and sometimes I get caught in old patterns that I have for whatever reason. Today, for example, they wouldn't like me because I'm wearing cowboy boots. I've been coming every day with sneakers and pants that are very narrow over here," he gestures to the tapering on his trousers. "They like that kind of thing for me, but they don’t like these boots. 'Papi, that's not you."