Wednesday 7 February 2018

Gibraltar has been my home for most of my life, barring my time spent away for university. Even though we are a small community, we have never been short of local talent, particularly in the arts. From music to fashion to dance, Gibraltar has produced some great names and when events are hosted to celebrate these arts, it's always great when we look within, instead of just looking at the biggest names around the world.

 One of my favourite things to do when visiting a new city is immersing myself in the culture, arts and history. When I saw the Gibraltar Cultural Services were putting on a retrospective exhibition showcasing the best of fashion design in Gibraltar, I was intrigued and excited. Firstly because, I hadn't attended anything of its kind here and secondly as an events graduate, I was interested to see the creative process that went into this and the final product. I was kindly invited to the opening of the exhibition by Cultural Services and Paul Perez, which was complete with a fashion show and champagne - so it was a definite yes from me.

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This happened to be my first event in Gibraltar attending as a 'blogger' - and for me the best part of doing this is that you get to work and enjoy yourself whilst also having a drink on the job. I was joined by fellow bloggers Bianca and Demi and it was a fabulous time. From the moment we crossed the gates into Casemates square, I felt like we'd been transported to New York and was attending the Met Gala. The event had its own red carpet and even the staircase was dressed to the nine's. The opening of the exhibition, which will be running up until the 17th February at the Gustavo Bacarisas gallery, kicked off with a fashion show featuring collections made by Gibraltar's finest - including pieces from the 1970s by Eduardo Viotto and Johnny Pearce, followed by local icons such as Dorcas Hammond, Priscilla Sacramento and Shorji, to more recent designs by Gail Howard and Gabriella Sardena. 

I luckily got to wear a gown designed by Paul Perez for the evening, seeing as I didn't get to dress up much on NYE,  it was nice to have an occasion to get all glam for, although stressing my mum to  curl my hair in 20 minutes wasn't so glamorous. The fact it was gold made me feel like I was attending the Oscar's and it also meant my love for red lipstick suited perfectly. Paul stated that his collections are made with a creative muse in mind, and also takes inspiration from the environment/place he is in. He describes his brand style as being "luxury clothing that is effortlessly individual".

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The exhibition itself transports you through the decades, and the set up was very aesthetically pleasing - from the mood boards to the short designer biographies, every detail (as expected) was perfect. Starting with work from the late Eduardo Viotto, his story is one of great interest. He began sketching when he was just four years old, where he even used his early talents to restyle a dolls wardrobe. In 1984 he designed his first Miss Gibraltar National Costume, which was then worn at Miss World, Miss Universe and the Miss Europe pageants. He attended the London School of Fashion, which broadened his knowledge about the industry, before returning back to the rock in 1986. This is when he produced his first complete collection, and every garment was sold even before the official exhibition. He was known for his 'sensual Italian style' and loved using the 'noble' fabrics such as silk, wool and cotton. He himself said "I'm quite sexual when I design, I like to emphasise femininity. I don't like to create shape - the shape is already created by the woman's figure".

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Another pioneer of fashion in Gibraltar, was Johnny Pearce, who spent some time working with British fashion designer Norman Hartnell, known for designing pieces for the Royal Family. Due to unforeseen circumstances he returned to Gibraltar in 1971, but still continued his work here by collaborating with Nalanie Chellaram to create the collection 'JOANAL'. Dorcas Hammond is no stranger when it comes to dressing pagaent queens, Notably Miss World 2009 Kaiane Aldorino. Below is the Gibraltar national costume which is still used today, and modelled by the current Miss Gibraltar.

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Two of my personal favourites from the night, were designers Gail Howard and Gabriella Sardena.  Their collections stand out from the crowd respectively, and I feel like their personalities are shown through their designs. I love Gail's fun and vibrant style, that for me are the perfect mix of style, edge and colour. She exhibited in London Fashion Week in 2017 which again allowed her collection to reach a much wider audience. Gabriella won Runway in 2015 and then went on to participate in Brighton Fashion Week and has also interned with Old Navy and Celine, it's safe to say she has achieved a lot of success as a young designer. Her dress (pictured below) has a very 'candy land' theme to it, and the shoes would not be out of place in Katy Perry's wardrobe (or mine).

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During the event, I was approached and asked the question "what's the one clothing piece you think is a must have in your wardrobe" - I'm not sure if this has aired yet, I hope not because my speaking was less than smooth. Anyway, my response was a faux fur coat because you can practically be wearing anything underneath and if you throw a nice black faux fur coat on top you'll automatically look classy/badass/put together.

For me fashion is all about expressing your personality through your clothing, and the fun thing is one day you can be channeling Mia from Pulp Fiction and the next you can walk the streets looking like a 50s pin-up doll. That being said, there are days where I just want to leave the house in leggings and a pair of trainers but as I said, throw on that faux fur and all will be fine!

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I'd like to say a special thank you to Paul, Kim and the Cultural Services for inviting me to this event. It was a first for me and personally I feel something like this should be kept up all year round, as it would be a point of interest for locals and tourists alike! If you're in a 100 mile radius, head to the the Gustavo Bacarisas gallery to experience this for yourself! 


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