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Accidente Con Flores

Interview 15.06.17

Interview Charlotte Lauren Wood Photography Valentina Riccardi

As the fashion industry continues to make a decidedly positive shift towards the ethical and sustainable, a new breed of designers – or perhaps artisans is the word here – have come to the fore. Enter Accidente con flores, an Antwerp-based womenswear brand by Ola and Adri, who are both couple and collaborator.

Cutting her teeth at Haider Ackermann and the Antwerp Fashion Department, Ola met Adri (an established Spanish artist) three years ago when she was looking for an illustrator to contribute some print designs to her label. Shortly after, studio Accidente was born out of the couple’s shared love of craftsmanship, their concerns about the sustainability of the fashion industry, and a need to return to a slower, truer experience of both life and art.

We caught up with Ola and Adri to discuss their creative process, cultural influences and the blurred line between art and fashion.

If my secondary school Spanish serves me correctly, Accidente con flores translates as Accident with flowers. Tell me about the name? Where did it come from?

We really struggled finding the name for our project – it turned out to be quite a challenge! A lot of time was spent trying out different languages and concepts – we wanted something that was visually pleasing but also had an interesting story underpinning it. Finally we gave up for a while, hoping that the name would appear more organically. Some time later, Adri made this drawing with the sentence Accidente con flores scribed on top, and when we saw it we knew it was the one. We like the fact [the statement] leaves so much space for imagination, and that everyone seems to understand it in a different way.

Ola and Adri, talk me through both your roles in the creation of Accidente con flores?

We met three years ago in Antwerp. Ola was looking for an artist to create prints for her new clothing collection and shortly after that we got together as a couple. Not suited to working in a traditional 9-to-5 setting, we realised that when we combined our skills the results were better, stronger and felt complete somehow. And on a personal level, working together made us happier and more satisfied.

Due to Ola’s previous experience as a designer, Accidente con flores started with the clothes, but from the very beginning we thought the project had much broader scope. In the very near future we plan to relocate to Ibiza to open an arts space to sell and display our designs, while serving the local community through our other passions: yoga, healthy eating and the practice of wellness and wellbeing. We believe that a creative and friendly community is something really important, yet also somewhat rare these days.

Accidente con flores seems to blur the boundaries between art and fashion, almost as if the clothes themselves are a by-product of a larger artistic process. Would you agree with that?

This is a really interesting comment! This transgression comes very naturally to our work, as we are inspired by a variety of things in our lives, and do not feel the need to categorise these influences as belonging to either “art” or “fashion”. Our clothes reflect this holistic approach and we would say that they are a result of not just an “artistic process”, but simply our life-process, so to speak.

Tell us about your process? How do you begin a collection?

There is never a definite beginning nor a definite end. We do not work according to the pace and restrictions imposed by the fashion industry, such as collection or season, and prefer to create each piece separately – an independent whole – whose meaning does not depend on trends imposed from outside influences. We want Accidente to be an ongoing process – one timeless and constantly growing collection.

We look for inspiration in all aspects of our lives. Thanks to Adri’s individual career as a visual artist, we take part in many interesting events and exhibitions. But we also find artistic stimulation in popular culture and internet-trends, so we’re open to all kinds of inspiration and experiences.

Ethics are integral to our process. We constantly seek to improve the selection and quality of our fabrics, the printing techniques, design and finishes. We think carefully how to make more responsible choices with a positive impact on the environment and community. We support local artisans and collaborate with suppliers from our city, and every single piece is designed, cut, printed and stitched by us in our atelier in Antwerp.

Ola, you’ve worked at the Antwerp Fashion Department and in the design team at Haider Ackermann, were you always interested in clothes from a young age?

Fashion was always there right from the beginning, but beyond fashion I was also very interested in classical music. I had been studying the accordion for 12 years and strongly believed that I would become a musician. But after having moved to Warsaw to continue my studies at the Frideric Chopin University of Music I decided to incorporate a study of costume design alongside it. The idea was to find work in the theatre or opera and combine my two passions. So that is how my journey with fashion began.

How did you dress as a teenager?

I was totally fearless and didn’t care what people thought of me. I was always wearing colourful clothes, big jewellery and experimenting a lot with my hair.

Adri, how do you approach your work for Accidente, is it similar to the way you’d approach a drawing or a painting?

 I try to keep my career as an artist and Accidente con flores separated. When I create for Accidente I think about it as a site-specific project. My drawings have to suit the fabric first and foremost, so I pay more attention to the printing techniques. On the one hand this sets some limitations for my artworks, compared to my individual projects, but on the other it pushes me to be more creative and forces me to find new solutions. I feel like I am constantly learning new things and growing as an artist.

 

Your designs have an instinctive, personal quality – does your work start from an emotional place?

Yes, always. Our work reflects our lives – it’s very instinctive and emotional. We never think about mainstream [industry] or marketing. Everything we do is pure and personal, coming from the basic need of creation and based on what we both like. Accidente con flores only makes sense for us when it is completely honest and transparent in every aspect.

What were you looking at/ listening to when you designed your latest collection?

Music is a crucial part of our studio, but it’s always diverse – you may find us listening to Chopin, some mantras, Pink Floyd or Bowie. Adri loves to discover new bands and composers to mix in with our regular playlist, so it’s always something fresh and new. When it comes to film we love to go out to Cinema Cartoon’s in Antwerp. In the last few weeks we have been obsessed with German director Werner Herzog, so we’re currently watching a lot of his films at home.

Was there a muse behind the current collection?

No. When creating our clothes we rarely have a specific person in mind. We try to design for every type of woman with different body types. We want our garments to make them stronger and to encourage women to embrace their natural beauty.

Finally, what is your brand philosophy?

Our priorities are environmental consciousness, sustainability, quality and social responsibility. We are aware of the consequences and environmental impact of the fast fashion industry, which is the second largest polluter in the world. We believe we can offer better choice and transform this industry together.

Interview Charlotte Lauren Wood Photography Valentina Riccardi
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