The Queen of Vintage, María Bernad, shows us around her sustainable street style kingdom
Stylist and fashion brand owner, María Bernad, epitomises everything we love at Runway Gallery.
Since launching her up-cycled brand, Les Fleurs, the Alicante born, Paris-based stylist and designer has worked alongside the most admired designers across the continent- appearing as the face of a Miss Dior campaign whilst also working with Fiorella Pratto, Nike & Vogue.
In an interview with Magazine, María Bernad revealed more about the figure behind her art-kissed powerhouse, from her love for 80s music videos to her experience at that Jacquemus SS/21 show.
Maria, let’s start at the very beginning- your roots, in Spain. How do you think your heritage has affected your creativity? Do you see any Spanish influences coming out in your work?
Of course, I’m proud to be Spanish, and I love my culture. I’m so inspired by Spanish cinema, and I’m a huge fan of Almodóvar’s movies and their aesthetic. All of the colours, and even the styling, always inspire me to work. I’m also from Elche, Alicante. I was born next to the sea, and the shells inspired my first collections.
So, when did you first notice that you had an eye for art and fashion? How did you break into the creative industry?
I have to say that I had a passion for expressing myself with clothing since a was a child. My grandma used to make my clothes when I was young, and since that moment, I was able to choose the fabrics for my dresses. During my time at high school, I noticed I dressed differently from everybody else, and I also noticed I was doing better in art, painting, and creative projects.
I had to decide between continuing to study art or moving to fashion design, but I decided on fashion design.
You also work from Paris. What do you find are the main differences between working from France in comparison to Madrid?
I think Madrid is an ‘easy’ city. Spain is such a nice place to live: the food is good, the weather is good, and life is slower. Paris is the complete opposite. It’s a bigger city, so everything is more difficult. However, I love thinking about the experiences and opportunities to come, the people I will meet, and, of course, all the projects to come in the future.
As the owner and curator of Les Fleurs studio, why do you think it is more important than ever to interpret vintage and upcycled clothes into your wardrobe?
I think the fashion industry does need to change. However, most especially, I believe our mindset needs to change to learn the difference between buying’ sustainable’- greenwashing clothes and buying upcycled or vintage clothes. The main difference between these is that you’re not creating something new – you’re recycling something that already exists, so we are left with zero-waste.
On the subject of sustainability, all artists at Runway Gallery are contractually obliged to cease using single-use plastic in all packaging. If you could force the fashion industry to do one thing to make it more sustainable, what would it be?
I will say something that sounds so easy, but it is so important: all the packaging must be recycled and avoid plastic too, of course.
The relationship between art and fashion is key to Runway Gallery. Can you expand why you think the art and fashion industries are so intertwined and how you practice both art and fashion in your work?
When I began studying fashion design, I found that fashion and art were so close to each other. For example, when you study fashion history at university, you learn about the dresses in the 18th century and how they link to the paintings from that era. At the same time, there were some painters who focused on clothing in their pieces. So, in the end, I think both industries offer ways to be creative, and, above all, they support each other.
As I studied art before I moved to fashion, I already had a huge interest in this creative industry. I’m inspired by colours, textures and the shapes of the paintings – these all make me feel inspired.
Also, as a London-based gallery, we have to ask: How do you think British style compares to French and Spanish style?
British and Spanish style are completely different. In Spain, we dress very colourfully, at least most of the time. In comparison, the British style is more elegant and is focused on soft and dark colours. French and British style are probably more similar, especially in the palette.
On a similar note, we often see you wearing 70s inspired outfits on your Instagram, but which decade do you believe has influenced your style the most?
Honestly, I would have to say the 80s. I love music from the 80s, so I am inspired by the fashion and styling in the music videos from this decade.
How was your experience at the iconic JACQUEMUS S/S 21 show? Can you expand on your favourite memory from the event?
It was an incredible experience – every Jacquemus show is. I have to say that he knows how to do a memorable show and it was beautiful. At the entrance to the location, you could find a bed in the middle of the field and a guy playing the guitar. It felt like I was in a film set. I also loved Simon’s playlists. He always chooses the best music.
How do you unwind after a day of creativity in your studio?
I watch films. The cinema inspires me, but at the same time, it’s important to take a moment for yourself and keep your mind away from work. I also love to cook and to dance – these help me unwind too. Plus, I love reading, especially before I sleep.
Finally, can you share any secrets about any upcoming projects? What does the future look like for you?
I’m so happy to work with Les Fleurs Studio, and we are growing. I’m also launching another collection with the Les Fleurs brand, and I’ve recently started another personal project which is related to upcycling.
By Megan Slack– Contributing Editor at Magazine by Runway Gallery.