A look into the world of Josep Font’s Couture-like creations for Delpozo that give a nod to European elegance.
Founded in 1974 as Del Pozo, the brand began life as a boutique in Madrid, for which the owner Jesus del Pozo began producing his own designs, first for men, before finding greater success as a womenswear designer and later adding lucrative fragrances and bridal ranges. For his efforts del Pozo received recognition and became something of a household name in his homeland, but he failed to replicate such success outside Spain before his death in 2011. In 2012 the label was purchased by Perfumes & Diseño SA, who hired architect-turned-designer Josep Font to lead the renaissance of the label, re-branded Delpozo.
Font began his career designing under his own label, showing his collections internationally to quiet success, including being invited to show during the Paris Haute Couture Week schedule. Upon his appointment as Creative Director of Delpozo in 2012, his first move was to fight for a spot on the New York Fashion Week schedule in a bid to increase global visibility, and making it clear this is a brand with international intentions. Since then, the Spanish designer has won plaudits for his ultra-feminine, couture-inspired collections. His sculptural aesthetic, often blended with a fairy-tale frothiness, instantly revitalised the Spanish-heritage brand with a youthful, romantic appeal. In fact, Delpozo is classed as a demi-couture label, which means that while it calls on the rarefied traditions of craftsmanship associated with couture, pieces are not bespoke, another way to attract a new generation of customer.
Exploding onto the scene back in 2012, Font’s magical rendition of a new female has continued to flourish with sculptural forms which are fresh and full of joy. Now with a new store opening in Dubai Mall, and off the back of another triumphant collection for Spring Summer 2018, we talk to the man synonymous with ruffles, to discuss his design challenges, current muse, and vision for the future of Delpozo.
What is your first fashion memory?
It was a gown that my mother wore to a fundraising event. It was a long red crepe gown, which was tied at the neck with a huge bow from Santa Eulalia, a boutique in Barcelona. It was very simple yet so elegant. I was in awe.
When did you your passion for design and fashion start?
Since I was a child, I have felt a special inclination towards fashion and art. However, when it was time for college, I chose to study a more traditional career, like architecture, as it was the most creative path, but I never stopped designing. Before graduating, I decided to study Design and Pattern-making in Barcelona to fulfill my dream.
Do you feel that your education in architecture helped carve your design aesthetic?
Absolutely. One of the things that I learned thanks to my architectural studies, is the value of proportion and balance. I gained insight in shape and volume, which I apply continuously throughout my designs in every collection. It is the idea of a whole, and even though each piece must have its own balance on its own, the full collection must be proportioned. In the end, it’s all about balance. It’s using or editing the right amount of fabric, texture, colour, and volume. I’ll create a voluminous sleeve, for example, but it will be made from organza so it’s light, not only for the wearer but also visually, or a skirt with several pleats and ruffles in wool or crepe, creating a more refrained volume.
How did you find the transition from designing for your own label, to moving to a brand?
I’m the same type of creative person. I give it my all, as if it were my own. I’m involved in all the processes, from the collection creation, to the development of the product and the store launches. I don’t see the difference, and I’m as involved as with my own brand. I’m very passionate in what I do and I work in the same way.
Who is the Delpozo woman?
The Delpozo woman is not defined by age, nationality, nor profession. She’s a global citizen, and she has a certain mystery about her. She dresses for herself, not for others. It’s about her attitude.
How does she differ from the heritage customer?
She’s more global. That would be the one difference. The brand before the relaunch was more locally based in Spain. We have also widened the age spectrum, before it was more a 45-65 age gap, now we cater from 30-65.
How important is the heritage of the brand to you?
Delpozo was a renowned fashion house in Spain, with more than 40 years of history. It was very challenging for me, as my goal was to offer a fresh and modern vision of the house, but I still wanted to respect its legacy. Unfortunately, I never got to meet the founder, Jesus del Pozo in person, but have a lot in common regarding how we look at fashion, developing collections on a mannequin, creative research, volume construction, colour selection and protecting craftsmanship techniques.
How would you define the values of the Maison?
The DNA of the house is the importance of protecting and fostering artisanal techniques and our craftsmanship know-how. That’s something I’ve always respected, it’s a part of what Delpozo was, is and will be. Delpozo believes in a modern and feminine universe that differs through the fresh colour palette, with bold hues, delicate silhouettes, and innovative embroidery.
Can you tell us about your recent SS18 collection?
I always take two different elements and fuse them together. For Spring Summer 2018, I chose Slovakian photographer Maria Svarbova’s ‘Swimming pools’ series with Spanish composer Xavier Cugat’s music.
Cugat was a famous musician, who performed with his big band in the 40s and 50s, which made me think of those soirées at the Waldorf Astoria and lazy summer afternoons by the pool. That made me focus on circular silhouettes, including curved seams in the designs, and especially ruffles and pleats cascading everywhere. I worked with my team to develop what we baptised as the Muguet sleeve, a voluminous yet weightless sleeve inspired by the shape of the flower of the same name. I feel it is a very musical collection. The swimming pools evoked in Svarbova’s photography inspired the season’s colour palette. Ivory, opal green, orange, red, and swimming pool blue, were a pure colour proportion mixed with Art Nouveau elements.
I worked on different prints, an oversized paisley, a neon almost tribal print as well as a geometric print of fil coupé inspired by swimming pool tiles. For accessories, the Bow silhouette is king.
What was on your moodboard for SS18?
Xavier Cugat, Esther Williams, Abie Lane, Maria Svarbova’s ‘Swimming pool’ series, different pool images, and exotic flowers like the Diphylleia.
Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
I never can choose a favourite piece as when I finish a collection, I’m usually very happy with all of it.
Tell us about the colours, they are very vibrant and clearly made an impact when you first showed in New York?
I always try to include bold colours in each collection, different shades of them, as I truly love colour. I consider colour another ‘construction’ element for my creations.
With 4 collections a year, how do you manage your designs, and keep them individual?
A lot of mental organisation! I need to separate each season as I work on three collections at a time. I’m about to finish Prefall 2018, am half way with Fall Winter 2018, and am starting with Resort 2019! It’s madness!
One of your many skills is cutting your own patterns, can you please run us through your design process?
As I mentioned before, one of Delpozo’s values is the design process which can be done by sketch, or how we usually work is modelling on a mannequin. That helps me visualise the silhouette with the fabric that it is going to be made from, and it makes it easier to adapt and edit the volume and proportion of each design.
Being prêt-à-couture is one of the factors that sets the brand apart, can you explain the meaning of this to us?
Delpozo applies mastered techniques from Couture to a modern business model that allows production capacity of each piece in more than one unit. Our production is made in Spain, except knit which is made in Italy.
What is the biggest challenge in designing in this way?
The time it requires! For me time is a true luxury.
Can you share with us what other aspects make the brand unique?
The team I have. When I arrived, the atelier was made up by 19 people. Today we are about 80!
In your opinion, what is the most flattering silhouette on a woman?
Whatever silhouette she feels most beautiful in.
Your designs have been worn by many famous faces, has there been one moment that you are most proud of?
Every moment is special and fills me with pride. It’s been a great experience and an honour for these amazing women to have chosen my creations to wear.
Who is your current fashion muse?
I really don’t have a muse. For me it’s the Delpozo women I design for. If I had to choose a fashion icon, it would be Jean Seberg. She was very modern for her era, and had a mysterious allure around her.
Tell us about your store opening in Dubai, as only your third standalone store, what made you choose the Middle East as your next destination?
Since the relaunch of the brand, the Middle East has become one of our most important markets and we have grown a lot in this region. We were very fortunate to have supporters like Salama Alabbar with Symphony, who understood the concept of the brand. With this first store it is a step forward in our relationship as partners.
How do you feel about fashion and style in the Middle East?
Middle Eastern women are very fashion forward, and are not afraid of colour or volume. I’m very impressed with how they combine this modernity whilst staying true to their traditions. It’s a very nice fusion that they pull off very elegantly. Plus, in this region you can find a wide range of women from different cultures and my collections speak to each one in a different manner. One can gravitate more towards the evening gowns, which are light and delicate, and for others they can appreciate the intricate construction of our tailored jackets and pants.
Will you be creating exclusive pieces for the Middle East market in conjunction with your store?
Indeed, I will, it will carry an exclusive capsule each season.
What is your future vision for Delpozo?
To become an established global luxury brand. That is my goal.
By Eliza Scarborough