We are thrilled to welcome the very first season of Mercedes Castillo shoes to our shelves. Mercedes' experience in the industry, coupled with her passion for art and design, has yielded a gorgeous debut collection. We chatted with Mercedes to learn more about her and how her namesake brand came together.
Could you tell us a bit about your background and how you arrived here, launching your own line?
I was born and grew up in Spain, where I did some of my fashion studies. After that I moved to Milan where I continued studying under Italian master designers from the Memphis and Alchimia design movements. I’ve always worked in fashion, first in Milan for Gianfranco Ferré when he was leading Christian Dior, then in New York with Donna Karan and Tory Burch in between others. For years, Vince Camuto and I had been talking about starting a brand together. We had met and joined forces to launch Tory Burch shoes, where I was the Creative Director for Accessories. Once I left Tory, we moved very quickly in this direction. I had the luxury of taking some time to reconnect with who the costumer is today, who would wear our shoes, accessories and RTW. There are so many brands already, but I think there are always opportunities to create something that is unique and relevant.
Color, especially in this premiere collection, seems to be essential. How does your design process take shape? Do you have some idea of a palette before you begin considering shapes or forms? Or do colors come later?
Our brand is confident and optimistic. Color, especially unique shades of color, are vital in the collections. We start the collection with a theme, inspiration boards, a video or slide show. This is usually very imaginative (like a movie or a dream). The theme informs the shapes and color palette, which are designed and developed at the same time. We often approach color by working in monochromatic pieces where everything is tonal.
The Mercedes Castillo woman is:
Confident, Optimistic, Magnetic, and most of all, engaged with her own creativity.
Scrolling through your Instagram, you reference artists working across mediums with an emphasis on sculptors and architects — does their work serve as a primary source of inspiration? Who are the artists who have been most important to you? Where else do you find inspiration?
Mid-century architecture and geometric abstraction are very close to my heart, although I pay attention to all art forms and movements. Modernism provides a particularly important reference for the Mercedes Castillo brand. We like the idea of monochromatic pieces where everything is tonal. I love Ellsworth Kelly's use of bold color, Donald Judd's clean geometry, Niemeyer architectural form and Max Bill sculptures. Museums, travels and nature (especially flowers) are often sources of inspiration as well.
How do you spend your days off?
I live in New York, and my family is all over the world. When I am not working I may be traveling to visit them in Spain, South Africa, Hong Kong, or London, we generally spend summer vacation in Mallorca. My husband and I love exploring cities, finding inspiration, and seeing friends. Sometimes our favorite thing to do is simply staying at home in New York, but that’s quite rare, actually. There is always so much to do and enjoy in the city.
All the restaurants in NYC are going to close, and you can lobby to save just one, but you have to eat there every night for a year. Which spot do you choose to save?
Kappo Masa is always special!
A favorite pair of shoes from this collection?
Who are your role models?
I am inspired by where women are going today. They are engaged with their own creativity, powered by their individuality. That is why the brand is about creativity and self-expression.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
"Find your passion." This is what Vince always used to say.