Fascinated with the line between the beautiful and the grotesque, Paula Canovas del Vas’ world is one of extremes: hoofed shoes, soft-play spikes and protruding shapes that grow out of her garments like organisms.
Growing up in Southern Spain with a mother who owned a small wedding dress business, the designer spent most of her childhood in an atelier – an experience she has admitted was Almodóvar-like. Having graduated from Central Saint Martins with a BA and an MA in fashion under her belt, she went on to work as a creative advisor to Kanye West.
Founding her eponymous label in 2018, Canovas del Vas has always pushed past the boundaries of the traditional fashion show format: her SS20 collection was a sense-altering virtual reality show at a WeWork, and her installation at Paris Mens Fashion Week in January displayed edible versions of her new accessories hanging from trees. It's no surprise, then, that the creative wants to focus on altering the way we consume fashion.
“We like to do things our way,” she says. “The products that make up our collections are singular and I think it’s a good thing to stop the cycle of uniformity.”
With sustainability also key (her collections are produced in Europe using artisanal techniques), it is the sense of community – of giving back to the Spanish makers whose craft she respects – which makes her work even more unique. Inspired by those around her, the designer hopes her company will become a platform for “conversations to occur, ideas to be exchanged, and remarkable individuals meet.” The collections, she says, are just a “by-product of that idea”.
How do you want to influence the future?
Paula Canovas del Vas: We are moved by the idea of using local craft and artisan techniques to create our products. We approach our collections as a whole creative project. It really isn’t only about the clothing, but creating a space to support and nurture a variety of ideas.
Where do you eventually want to get to in your career?
Paula Canovas del Vas: I want our company to be a positive change agent for our team, our customers, and the society we live in. Having a team made me understand it’s not just about me anymore. I want to grow and nurture the remarkable people around me who honour me every day by trusting us in this.
“I want to grow and nurture the remarkable people around me who honour me every day by trusting us in this” – Paula Canovas del Vas
What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?
Paula Canovas del Vas: There is an incredible community of artisans from south East Spain specialised in creating espadrilles. Most of them lost their jobs as many factories had to close due to recession. I would love to create a collection using those techniques and to showcase and promote their work to a wider audience. It would be incredible to document the process and create a short film about it.