Text by Tatiana Stolyarova at Paris Haute Couture Week Spring/Summer 2017 held in January 2017
Antonio Ortega has constructed his career and life around a dream: becoming a part of the world of high fashion.
In 2014 he presented his first couture show in Paris. "The snake, myth and reality", the theme of that collection, was abundant with sensuality, elegance, refinement, colour and life.
Ortega style blends traditional techniques with a contemporary design creating a constant movement and diversity. Antonio believes that the clothes he creates make woman feel free and at her best.
Living today in Montréal, Antonio Ortega works on his couture lines and imagines a line of ready-to-wear and accessories.
Can you tell us the story of your fashion house. When and how did it start?
I started very young. Already at 8 I discovered my passion for the arts. Little by little, I developed this passion through the music, sculpture, theater – I tried myself in different forms of creative expression. Finally, I chose fashion design and started to work in a handicraft house in Mexico where I learnt different artisanal techniques. Since then I have developed a particular passion for the handcraft. After that I worked for a telecom company in Mexico - one of the biggest in Latin America - where I was in charge of the whole team of designers involved in different projects. However, I quit that company in nineties and turned myself entirely into fashion.
In 1999 I came to Paris and studied in the Chardon Savard Atelier. At that moment I did not have any contacts in the industry: as a perfect newcomer in the French fashion market, I started from scratch. From that moment on, I have been focusing myself on the high fashion as a strongest source of inspiration and my ultimate goal.
I founded my label "Antonio Ortega" in 2003 in Paris and later on we moved to Montreal – the city where I am living and working now. My biggest proud at present is that after all these years of evolution I could acknowledge to be a part of this high fashion world.
Do you perceive the haute couture as a sort of creative laboratory?
It could be considered as a "laboratory" in the sense that the couture certainly brings in fresh or renewed ideas and inventions. We constantly explore new fields and experiment with original materials. Nevertheless, even the craziest ideas should be customized; we are here to dress up our clients in a unique yet comfortable way.
In my case, the couture first of all is a blend of artisanal techniques and modern technologies in the ultimate goal to please our customers.
Can you describe your customer?
My customer has a strong personality, who wants to be unique. She [or he] is ready to find herself is any kind of situation, be it a sport event or a party. She feels comfortable and modern. I am glad that in terms of theirs cultural background and geographical origins, my clients are internationally diversified. There is no a particular age of my clientele: it ranges from 25 to 70. And that person of 70 who I dressed, was extra modern and unique.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My roots is my strongest source of inspiration. I’m proud to belong to three very rich cultures which I have absorbed in the course of my life: Mexican, French and Canadian. I draw my inspiration from the best elements of this cultural mix. Color as a source of energy is another essential part of Antonio Ortega’s label DNA. It definitely reflects my Mexican origin.
The theme of your previous collection was the Day of the Dead. Can you tell us why you’ve chosen this theme?
Initially the idea of that collection came from the Mexican tradition. Later I have done some research and found out that the similar celebrations exist in different countries all around the world. Every culture expresses it in a different way, be it in India, China or Indonesia. The idea that fascinated me and inspired to create the collection was that the people from diverse ethnical groups show respect to their ancestors by adorning themselves.
In my new Spring 2017 collection, I have been treating a completely different theme. What remains constant is that sort of multicultural blend which I can call my personal touch, my signature.
Why did you choose Paris to show your collections? What do you think about the haute couture label, to your opinion, is it worthy to get it?
I will talk from the point of view of my own experience as a designer. Having reached the highest level of fashion, the level of haute couture is utmost import achievement I have ever made. Giving my passion for the handicraft, details and artisanal techniques, presenting my collection in Paris - the city where the high fashion was born – within haute couture weeks is as natural as it could be. Paris is a perfect place where I can show my cosmopolitism, my creative ideas, and my vision of a fashion.
How do you see the future of your label?
I am looking forward to further diversification of my style and design activities. My brand's future is undeniably linked to my Parisian shows. I am looking forward to future collaborations with artists as well as film makers, car producers, restaurateurs.
Do you believe in the future of haute couture labels?
High fashion is not only about the financial capacity of people to buy the couture clothes.
Beside its commercial part, there are artists who need to express themselves, their talents, knowledge and creative power. And there always will be persons who are willing to pay high price for the exquisite unique things.
After all, I am still here thus high fashion will last as long as we nourish it with our energy. And I am not going to quit!