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SUSTAINABILITY | 15.04.2021

María Lafuente, fashion designer: “Sustainability is an obligation” 

ethic

Anoche tuve un sueño

She defines herself as a “di-soñadora” (both a designer and a dreamer), a concept that arose from her restless nature and the similarity that the words have in her native Spanish (“diseñadora” and “soñadora”) with her profession. Art and culture are ingrained in her DNA, and she expresses her passion for fashion through innovative proposals, always mindful of her social and environmental commitment.

Photographs: Kristen Wicce

For María Lafuente, art and culture are intense expressions of the soul, connecting people with their own emotions and those of others, awakening and enriching the human spirit. This gives us an idea of what this fashion designer is like in terms of how she is driven by her dreams and innovation: “Dreams are a journey, from the moment you first think of them to the moment you enjoy them in real life. As a dreamer, even since my childhood, I’ve always enjoyed everything that life gives us through successes and mistakes and trying to learn every day,” she says.

Her designs are part of her creativity and personality. They are linked to an inspiration and a philosophy that combine life and work. Her collections stand out for their sustainable pursuit of the fusion between architecture, art, innovation, poetry, nature and music, with the aim of reclaiming a lifestyle committed to the values necessary to live in harmony with Mother Earth.

“Going to the UN was one of the greatest rewards and gifts of my life”

“My collections are part of my creativity and personality,” María confirms. “I need to research and study for each of the collections. From new materials and artisanal traditions, all the way to depicting what I’m feeling and experiencing at any moment, in order to capture it in the new collections. For me, the human side is just as important: knowing who produces the collections and the values with which they are made,” she confirms.

Each collection is born from dialog between the individual and the universal. They express her passion and respect for life, and transport those who enjoy them to a dreamlike world, bringing out the best in each person and thus inspiring them to make small and conscious decisions to create lasting changes.

She is a clear example of this revolution. Since she was a child, she has been reusing materials within her reach to turn them into something else. To give them a second life. This, together with the fact that she grew up in small places surrounded by nature, has left an imprint on her thought process, as she always keeps the environment in her mind and heart.

Born in Asturias and raised in León, María is an international benchmark for sustainable fashion. Through her work, she highlights the urgent need to create, produce and consume in a conscious and responsible way. This path has led her to be rewarded in various parts of the world, as she was the first designer to speak and show her work at the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) at the UN, with the first PEFC-certified collection of sustainable fabrics.

“Luxury means having something unique,” a declaration of intent that guides the way she creates her designs

“Going to the UN was one of the greatest rewards and gifts of my life. I never imagined I would be the first person in the world to talk about fashion and its values in this place, a place I only know from reading about it when I was a child. I’m thankful to PEFC for this incredible opportunity,” she says excitedly. For her, sustainability is not just an option; it’s an obligation: “We must leave behind a legacy and a planet for future generations, and we must be more responsible in our actions. Every grain of sand has the potential to create a beach. We can all contribute something,” she assures us.

She lives her life by one claim: “Luxury means having something unique,” a declaration of intent that guides the way she creates her designs. That’s why each garment she creates is exclusive and unique: “My claim means having handmade pieces, with values, dedication and passion. Enjoying the little everyday pleasures that surround us. Like a hug, a sunset, sharing a few laughs, a good conversation… Among many other simple things,” she explains.

She works with tires, with PEFC-certified tencel, with recycled PET. With artisanal silks from Thailand, wool and technological innovations. She works with different groups—some at risk of social exclusion—and associations of women artisans. Within this logic, she is involved in a project aimed at dignifying the lives of women, collaborating with the association “Lal la buya,” a non-profit association formed by women at risk of social exclusion who have difficulties entering the labor market.

A regular since 2006 at Madrid Fashion Week and various catwalks in more than 20 countries, she is currently in the design phase of her newest collection, which will premiere at the next edition of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid in April.

She also has proven experience in creating corporate identities such as, for example, the Spanish Olympic Committee and Paradores of Spain, among others. She has created costumes for series, movies, television and musicals. She has been pre-nominated at the Oscars as Costume Director for the movie Paranoid Girls, directed by Pedro del Santo. She is currently the costume director for the popular sci-fi series ‘Territorio Gravedad’ directed by Nacho Chueca. And it would be impossible to list all of her more-than-well-deserved awards here.

Even so, she assures us that it hasn’t been easy: “Any artistic or freelance profession is a long journey and there can be both successes and mistakes. But those of us who love what we do will always be on track. It’s a long career,” she recounts honestly.

When she’s not designing, she spends time with her family and friends, drinking in every minute of life, living and breathing art. She reads, dances, goes to the theater and soaks up the culture that will later fill her collections. And she dreams. She will never stop dreaming: “I dream of continuing to bring values to the world of fashion that makes me so happy, and of enjoying simple and wonderful pleasures. I dream of continuing to learn every single day and experiencing many more moments to come.” That’s María.