Celia Bernardo is the founder of CeliaB, a revolutionary Spanish fashion brand that she created after spending a decade working with large brand names in fashion. She loves to travel and collects textiles and patterns from all around the world, incorporating inspiration from everywhere into her texture-rich clothing designs. In this interview, she shares her inspirations, motivations, and the story of her brand.
Kathryn: You have worked with some big businesses in the past. What inspired you to start your own brand?
Celia: I worked with brands like Zara, Pepe Jeans, and Asobio for ten years. After that, I thought it was time to set up my own brand. It is a way of expressing my personal sense of fashion and design and combining that with my passion for travels and handcrafted techniques from around the world.
Kathryn: That’s a bold step to take. What gave you the bravery to make that leap?
Celia: It is easy to take a leap of faith when you believe in what you do. I put all of my soul and passion into this project, and it has become a huge part of both my identity and the way I communicate with the world.
Kathryn: A big part of that identity is season-less fashion. Can you explain a little bit about the value of no-season clothing and durable, handmade clothing in our world of fast fashion?
Celia: Our designs are made to last much longer that one season, and they don’t have to be attached to a specific trend or time of the year to be worn either. The fast fashion industry presents clothing in season-based collections. We find it just crazy – this rate of consumption that the fashion industry is marketing to all of us. At CeliaB, we believe in breaking the model set forth by the fast fashion industry by defending our timeless, no-season collections. We focus on making high quality garments that women will fall in love with, garments that have a cultural and artistic sense, garments that will have a longer and happier life than those designed only to last six months. And by encouraging people to buy fewer clothes each season, we challenge the production / consumption cycle, which reduces ecological impact.
Kathryn: What makes women fall in love with your clothing?
Celia: We firmly believe in empowering people to feel special and unique by creating timeless, fun and unusual designs for them to wear. We want these designs to transmit to the wearer a spirit of uniqueness and freedom. The women who buy our clothing are confident women with a revolutionary attitude towards fashion, women who question the prevailing fashion trends, women who use their clothing to communicate diversity.
Kathryn: The CeliaB customer sounds like a terrific woman. What five words would you use to describe her?
Kathryn: How about 5 words that describe yourself?
Kathryn: You mentioned diversity as an important part of your creativity. You show this throughout your work, from the inspiration for your designs to the models you work with. Why is this important?
Celia: We want to break the mold and celebrate an international global spirit. We want our work to enhance the biodiversity of the world by mixing aesthetics, trends, colors and patterns in our own unique way. Why? Because diversity is an important value that we believe is in danger of extinction due to globalization and mesmerization. Lobbies and big brands are conducting our way of consuming in a very standardized fashion. We want to push these boundaries by proposing a new way of dressing and a revolutionary attitude towards fashion.
Kathryn: This makes perfect sense since so much of your inspiration has come from your travels. What are some favorite places you’ve been?
Celia: Bolivia, Buenos Aires, Colombia, and Mexico.
Kathryn: Do you travel alone? Any tips for women who may be a bit scared to do so?
Celia: Yes, I love to travel alone! You just have to watch out for yourself in the same way a man has to.
Kathryn: Going back to the message of your brand, you have also described clothing as a form of communication, right?
Celia: Yes, what you wear communicates something to others. We also believe that you build a relationship with the clothing that you wear. And we design garments that have a story behind them; this creates a cultural and emotional connection with the wearer. We care about how you feel when you wear the clothing. If our clothing appeals to you, then you are a woman who is not carried away by trends; you have a strong sense of self. The women who are in tune with our clothing emit a special joy and positivity that we identify with.
Kathryn: One aspect of “story” in clothing is the handmade element, including your crochet work. What can you tell us about that part of your fashion line?
Celia: Crochet is one of my favorite elements in my designs. I will always continue to develop designs that include crochet, as it has become one of the signatures of my identity. I learned how to crochet thanks to my friend, the multimedia artist Nicole Teng, who makes amazing pieces of art with crochet for her brand Brut Cake. Once she taught me, I became a fanatic of this technique and I would be crocheting always, everywhere. In fact I was called “La Loca del Crochet” when I was in Shanghai! Now I develop the crochet for the prototypes but have a small team that takes care of the production. What I love about crochet it that it is a very free technique, and you can create endless combinations of shapes, colors and yarns.
Kathryn: Nicole Teng is an inspiring woman. A couple of other amazing, strong women are the Quann Sisters, who represent you as brand ambassadors. What led to working with them?
Celia: The moment we came across them we knew they would be the perfect CeliaB ambassadors. The Quann sisters are the kind of women who turn heads when they walk down the street. With their personal sense of style, their outrageous beauty, and gorgeous, natural hair, you can easily understand why they stand out in the fashion industry. But what we found so interesting about them is their activism, their passion for everything they get involved with, and their belief in breaking barriers through their artistic expression, in a very wide sense.
Kathryn: You have done a lot of collaborative work with others. What are the best and worst parts about creative collaboration?
Celia: It’s all positive! I love to introduce collaborations with other artists in my collections as a way of opening up the CeliaB universe to the sensitivity of other creative souls. It brings in a new interesting dimension to my work.
Kathryn: That’s great! But, of course, some people find working with others to be challenging. Any tips?
Celia: Look for people who share your own vision but also complements your strengths.
Kathryn: Who have some of your female role models been?
Celia: My grandmothers, my mother, and my sister as well as Sonia Rykiel, who recently passed away.
Kathryn: What is the best piece of advice you could offer to girls today?
Celia: As Oscar Wilde said: “Be yourself; everyone else is taken”.