Juanjo Oliva: one of Spain’s top designers

His new fashion film 'XX' stars Nieves Álvarez

In moss green trousers, black t-shirt and a denim jacket, he fixes a couple of little details on the dress Nieves Álvarez is wearing. She, of the majestic walk, says something to him and they both laugh. Nieves walks towards the set that is prepared for a photo call and a smiling Juanjo sits down to give us this interview. Behind the beard, glasses and endearing attitude, there is one of the most important and successful Spanish designers around the world. The relationship Juanjo Oliva has with Nieves Álvarez is not just work; they are friends, partners and make an excellent team. This made it really easy for the designer to choose her to be the main character in his new fashion film. ‘XX’, a one-of-a-kind film production, with Nieves as the leading woman, is being released on November 12th.

“We really wanted to search for new languages to show fashion. Thanks to technology you can show your DNA in a very direct way and ‘XX’ is looking exactly for that,” he says. “Also, we are celebrating: Juanjo Oliva as a firm is 13 years old, but we started to do catwalks three years after our opening; that makes this year our tenth anniversary on the catwalk and, at the same time, it is our 20th catwalk show. ‘X’ for ten years and the other ‘X’ for twenty runway shows.”

The fashion film – made by Fernando González Molina – aims to show the image of women, through Nieves – who brings beauty, strength and kindness together, being a combination that the designer sees in the woman he designs for. “We realized that ‘XX’ also is the female chromosome and I normally put all my creative energy into women; I wanted to show how prismatic Nieves is and how I see women in this film, that is a closure of a first phase of the company,” he says.

The charismatic designer acknowledges that after thirteen years of experience as an independent brand, this has become both: the best and the worst of his job. The best thing is the creative freedom he gets by owning his firm and the worst, paradoxically, is the businessman he had to turn into. Undoubtedly, he is doing well. His couture collections have a high demand, he has a prêt-à-porter bridal capsule collection and, for the fourth time, he has designed an exclusive collection for Elogy that is available in El Corte Inglés.

“The Elogy experience has been a gift. It means I can show this same DNA, but counting on the support of El Corte Inglés to enhance my work. Having my clothes at 27 stores is wonderful,” he says. This fourth collection for Elogy is an autumn-winter collection and, for the first time, he has added his first bag range. “These are ten bags that are designed for each ask a woman undertakes during a day. We produced all of them in Spain with Spanish leather craftsmen. The Elogy project has turned me into a brand,” Juanjo says.

A large part of the couture and prêt-à-porter collections of Juanjo Oliva are produced in Spain, specifically in Madrid. For him, there are a lot of typical Spanish jobs that are getting lost and it is important to enhance this kind of work in order not to lose identity.

The designer, who does a lot of different things, but at the same time, follows a similar line of work, believes in the idea – as Picasso did – that inspiration comes when you are working.

“More than inspiration, I like to talk about sources, resources, information, documentation, interests, being very open and receptive to what is around you,” he says.

“That’s what a designer does: filters that contemporary moment and translates it to fashion. It is a constant search for information.”