Photo by Lee Woolcock
Mertxe Hernández. Fashion Designer, Barcelona.
When I was young, I used to really enjoy dressing my dolls, deciding which outfits they were going to wear, and which piece of fabric would go best where. I also used to like anything that involved using my hands.
Much later, I had to decide whether to do fine arts at university, or fashion, so I decided on fashion. I am a very determined person. Once I get something into my head, I completely go for it.
As part of my fashion and design course, I had to work in different companies, but as soon as I finished, I knew I wanted to launch my own collection. I was about 23.
I started working at home on the dining-room table and selling to other shops, and took part in a fashion fair that they used to have here every year to promote designers called Espacio Gaudí, but at the age of 28, I found my own space in the Born. Eleven years later, I’m still here!
My style has changed a lot. In the beginning, my designs were quite radical and avant-garde, but over time they’ve evolved to become a little bit more conventional. It’s not easy, you know, because it’s not a style that suits everyone. There are people that say they like it but they wouldn’t wear it.
I don’t normally do commissions, but I did design some T-shirts for the Cirque du Soleil, which was a great collaborative experience.
I work in the studio downstairs. Depending on the piece, it can take me as little as a day to make something. The range includes bags, skirts, T-shirts, tops and party dresses, something for every moment of the day.
Every two months, I exhibit a new artist’s work in the shop, because I really enjoy the fusion between art and fashion.
Of course, I watch trends, but I also like to offer something that has the personal touch. My trademark item is the collar with dangly strips.
I always think, “if I would wear it, it’s ok.” I make all my own clothes, except jeans!
For me, London is the best city for fashion. I can’t really define why, but it is cool and bold, and I always like the clothes I find there. There is a great culture of young designers there and whichever market I go to, I think “Wow!”.
I love the designs of Balenciaga who was around at the same time as Chanel. He was from the País Vasco but lived in Paris. More contemporarily, I like Alexander McQueen, and Hussein Chalayan, a Turkish Cypriot designer living in London.
My clients tend to be 50 percent local and 50 percent tourists. Many are foreigners who live here; they find there is more of a culture here to buy from smaller shops.
I love the Born. It has changed a lot since I’ve been here. It used to be very dangerous 15 years ago, and on this street (Rec), for example, there weren’t any shops or boutiques. Custo opened a shop and then gradually little artisan shops started to set up. But really, it has changed beyond belief.