Nicolas Montenegro learned fashion design in Milan and his designs attracted many stars, including Beyoncé. However, the Corona pandemic forced the promising Spanish fashion designer to return to his village in Spain to launch his brand.
In the town of La Lanticoela, which has a population of 3,800 and is located near Seville in southern Spain, far from the fashion capitals, AFP met A 31-year-old fashion designer who gained experience from his work with Dolce & Gabbana.
The table he works on is full of designs and fabric samples, such as crepe, velvet, and taffeta. The operator is filled with wedding dresses, homemade colored thread rollers, and family photos.
His three employees, a villager, cut fabrics and make patterns.
"There's no need for a designer to have a physical presence in a big city," says the young designer, as modern technology goes away.
After a time at the prestigious Institu to Marangoni in Milan, Montenegro spent four years at Dolce & Gabbana, during which he designed costumes for top stars such as Madonna, Beyoncé, Kylie Minogue, Monica Bellucci, and even Melania Trump.
On his return to Spain in 2018, he worked in Barcelona for the Yolancris brand and designed the stunning pink tulle dress worn by Spanish pop star Rosalia at the Latin Grammy Awards.
But everything changed last March because of the Coved-19 pandemic and measures to contain it.
After spending 14 years away from his hometown of La Lantehua, the designer returned to his home town to spend more time near his father, who later developed cancer and died of the Coronavirus in November.
"Encouraged" by his father, a businessman of humble origins, Nicholas Montenegro finally decided to stay and launch his brand from the village, designing the first set of wedding dresses he called "April".
The collection includes elegant and discreet dresses, each sold for 2,500 euros in Spain, Britain, and Greece.
Nicholas is currently working on a collection of mainly women's ready-to-wear, inspired by carpets decorated with deer, tigers, and peacocks brought by his father in 1971 from the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara where he performed his military service.
The group will be launched in March in Madrid, particularly online because of the epidemic, which the young designer sees as positive and useful.
"In fashion shows, everything happens so fast - Chanel, Dior, etc. - that the viewer doesn't have time to enjoy the show before everyone forgets," he says.
"The collection of wedding dresses have been launched online and have dedicated a promotional video to the show as a whole, as well as a promotional video for each dress individually."
Montenegro sees this as a more "practical" option, and is betting on women's fashion, unlike other Spanish designers, such as Arturo Obihiro and Archie Aled Martinez or the "Otitha" brand, which was exhibited during Paris Fashion Week with men's or "non-gender" pieces.
Montenegro's establishment in the village has strengthened its epidemic-riddled economy, a town that already has a long history of sewing, if several generations of experienced tailors take turns in flamenco dresses or children's clothing.
Estonia Ponce, a 38-year-old mother, says her work as the operator helps her a lot "in the current situation", as "there is nothing else" in the village.
Nicolas Montenegro's philosophy is the same as that of 28-year-old young designer Alejandro Palomo, who heads the Palomo Sabin brand, with the latter opening its workshop in his hometown of Posadas, 75 km from La Lantequila.
"We lose our identity without the village," he says, praising the work of his colleague, a successful combination of Spanish tradition and modernity that has once again attracted the attention of the fashion world.