Fashion is Also an Art
By Frank Padrón / Photos by F.A.C. Project / Makeup Artist: Pavel Marrero / Assistant Designer: Dariel Otero / Models: Nay González, Katia Gil, Elizabeth Wong
The Virgin of Charity, holding a child and walking through a busy Havana with a photograph-like background; she wears the red of fire and blood, but her mantle is the ocean itself, not just because of its intense blue, but also because of the elements that cover her.
Another woman, dressed like Marlene Dietrich, looks out defiantly from a bar with her expressive hat; now the black and white photo background (the outstanding chromatic element) is the medium.
The centrally-leading blue, or rather, several ranges of that very representative colour, are back in the sensuality and movement of a mermaid who is now on land, but who still bears her maritime elements, together with two expressive peacocks, as she is surrounded by the green of lush vegetation. Lastly, and also surrounded by our essential greenness, another young woman unfurls her wings; gold is now her chromatic sign, and her winged dress features beauty spots and ornaments that give it great vitality.
What do all of these designs have in common? In addition to their originality, power and beauty, they are all by one of our most outstanding artists in this specialty of the arts: Ismael de la Caridad, a hard-working designer with an impressive professional record.
He began working at Cuba's Cultural Assets Fund (Fondo de Bienes Culturales) in 1980, designing clothing that used hand-dyed fabrics on the initiative of Nisia Agüero. At the same time, he worked as a model for a number of state entities, including the Ministry of Light Industry, Locales, Contex, the Palacio de Artesanía (arts and crafts retail center)— where he was its exclusive artist—and others. One day, he felt the need to create his own work, and that is why he began working at the Karl Marx and Mella theatres but without abandoning his work with clothing made from hand-printed fabrics.
Shortly after that, he joined the Cuban Association of Artists and Artisans (Asociación Cubana de Artesanos y Artistas), designing batas cubanas (loose-fitting traditional Cuban dresses), something that he still does, with one collection annually. He has participated in Telarte with collections inspired by the painted textiles of Sosabravo, and he has designed for Fashion Week events in Cuba and internationally (United States, Mexico, and elsewhere).
Frequently, Ismael has united his art with that of one of our great painters, Zaida del Río, with whom he has created beautiful work, such as the recent Nacimiento de Ochún (“Birth of Ochún”), which also included the participation of Carlos Guzmán, and which was one of the most popular events during the recent Arte Moda event on fashion and art.
When he is asked about the main sources of inspiration for his work, he immediately replies, “The Malecón, across from which I happily live; the Morro, mulatta women, the air, colour, and Cuban and Latin American mythology. It fills me with complete satisfaction to work in Cuba. The public enjoys it, and even though I travel all over, there is nothing like working here.”