The fashion industry in Spain is experiencing a DNA re-structure at the moment thanks to the onslaught of identity ridden parades of up-and-coming creatives who are staging their coup d’état on the steps of Madrid Fashion Week. At the forefront of this movement are design partners Esperanza Berrocal and Rafa Bodgar whose label Chromosome Residence, as the name would indicate, is stirring up unconventional codes and techniques to make far more than just the sum of their parts.
By creating garments that are not preconceived, the pair have formulated a distinctively alternative brand imagery which exists entirely outside the standards and assurances of an industry increasingly obsessed with making money instead of developing fresh approaches. “We wanted to go against the thinking that many people have, that everything in fashion has already been done,” says Berrocal. So what precisely is Chromosome’s concept? According to Berrocal, the fundamental essence of their brand transcends generational barriers: “Getting old does not prevent us from being unique and special,” she explains, “this is our point of view and this is why older people are part of our concept”. At their most recent outing in the La Salle de San Rafael chapel, the entire front row looked like the extras from Cocoon, all the while dewy Instagram ingénues like Coco Kate and Simon Sima marched down the runaway in a collection that echoed the carefree styling of their elderly counterparts. “It is striking that the majority of fashion brands have always been directed towards a young audience and that the age of guests at the shows is under 45,” she continues. “In the future we would for those who supported us to continue to attend our shows and that we as a brand can dress both young and old, all with the same artistic passion and love for things”.
Indeed, there is something perversely unique in Chromosome’s futuristic optimism in pre-emptively defining that the current young generation will dress with them forty years from now. This stark interchange between the opposites of our existence is particularly evident in their tailoring. “We love tailoring a lot and it is something that we will try to keep in each collection. We are very excited to be working on something that has a fairly strict basis and that rarely sees new ideas in it,” Berrocal adds. Referred to as the ‘granny’s daily uniforms’, the SS17 collection sees pedestrian concepts stretched to ludicrous proportions. There are shirts that carry frames with old photos, bags made of tablecloths that open like sails, trousers with outer knickers, tops constructed out of dental napkins, shoes with crutch heels, cross knitted sweaters, and tailored suits made out of rubber. The designers’ penchant for visceral humour is persistent throughout. Look no further than Chromosome’s Instagram account for the eerie yet oddly humorous images of dangling wheelchairs, masked cocaine peddlers and tied-up babysitters. Berrocal insists that the themes of submission and terror come from always trying to subvert the taboo subjects of society and inject them into their clothing. “The sexual clothing shouldn’t only be linked to intimacy or sex. Dressing is a game in which we all participate.”
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Reflecting an underlying belief that corporate management counteracts an inherent human tendency to stay committed to one’s true objectives, Berrocal has harsh words for once independent talents occupying commercial roles now. “Fashion design just like art and music and other disciplines is impossible to perpetuate without the essence and the mind of the original creator,” she says staunchly. “I think the fashion industry is experiencing a conflicting moment. The luxury brands are appointing creative directors of new and independent brands every two to three years because otherwise they would go into total bankruptcy.” It is no wonder then that the designers are aligning themselves with their like-minded contemporaries like Palomo Spain. “We are really only interested in brands that bring new things and can sustain this, collection after collection, and currently there are very few brands that do that. We are simply joining the rest in the aspiration of becoming one of those brands of reference in terms of design and personal spirit.” Despite the side-effects of the ever-growing pressures of consumerism, designers are steadfast in their convictions. As Berroca reflects “Our tastes are not the most commercial, and despite facing many difficulties in the industry we believe in us…we are young and we have to show our ideas and experiment now more than ever”.