Josep Font and Delpozo: As seen on red carpets (and on Melania Trump)
Fashion: Meet the former architect bringing new life and glamour to the Spanish label
White and neon tectured knitted sleeveless top, €950, from Delpozo at Brown Thomas
The name Delpozo may be an unfamiliar one in Ireland, but in the 1980s it was one of the most renowned heritage brands in Spain founded by fashion and costume designer, Jesús del Pozo. Del Pozo died in 2011 and today, under new owners and the creative direction of Josep Font, it is gaining traction as one of the most interesting newcomers on the international fashion scene and a red carpet favourite.
It is very expensive, but the inner construction and quality of the fabric, comparable to haute couture, can transform and flatter a woman’s shape. It made its London debut this week at London Fashion Week.
Font, who is from Barcelona, trained as an architect to please his father while secretly studying fashion. After winning a competition, he launched a range of white shirts, his first collection. Work in Japan and China followed furthering his experience and he launched his own label in the early 1990s showing in Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Paris and Tokyo. Font’s revitalisation of Delpozo began by showing collections in New York to increase global visibility, a bold step for a relatively unknown label, but one that has paid off handsomely – his fresh take on modern romanticism has cross-generational appeal and created a fan base of high-profile women including Michelle Obama, Melania Trump, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna and Naomi Watts.
Friendly and warm
We meet in the stylish Salamanca area of Madrid near Delpozo’s flagship store – in a magnificent art nouveau building, part of which is still residential. The 41-year-old designer, friendly, warm and thoughtful in his replies, is dressed simply in T-shirt, jeans and runners. He admits that transforming Delpozo into an international brand was “the most difficult thing in the world”. Others such as Gucci have changed their creative directors three or four times, but for Delpozo this was something completely new. “I am responsible for four collections annually including shoes, bags and bridal wear,” he says. “We are taking it one step at a time.”
Delpozo’s meticulous “prêt-a-couture” approach has made an impact with its cut, colour combinations and embellishment, but primarily its craftsmanship. The construction of some of the dresses and coats is like that of haute couture – bodices are boned and fixed with grosgrain ribbon to give structure and support, there is delicate pinstitched edging on organza silk skirts, and double-faced wool interspersed with neoprene for shape. A burgundy coat in the shop had been seen on Melania Trump the previous day in China. With such details, prices are necessarily high.
For me, I have always wanted to innovate with volume and that is where architecture works in the collection
“Every collection begins with a structure and that is how fashion connects to architecture,” he explains. “If the basic structure doesn’t work, then the whole garment from top down won’t work either.” His curvaceous shapes and sleeves recall the work of the great Spanish designer Balenciaga and pieces of Delpozo are currently on display in the Balenciaga exhibition in the Victoria & Albert museum in London.
“Balenciaga was so modern in the 50s but was seen in the west as taking away a woman’s shape [with his voluminous curves] but in the east, they saw him as very erotic because he revealed the nape of the neck – not many people realise that,” he says. “For me, I have always wanted to innovate with volume and that is where architecture works in the collection.”
The spring/summer collection is Font’s tenth and with its flowing tunics, bold patterns, palazzos and pops of neon it was described by Vogue as “having summer in every look”. It was inspired by old Hollywood poolside glamour, the songs of Xavier Cugat a famous Spanish/American band leader who popularised Latin American music in the US, and the paintings of Maria Svarbova from Bratislava. “I like to take two contrasting inspirations and mix them together,” Font explains.
It is important to disconnect. I like buying artisan crafts, perfumes, soaps
His life is a demanding one and he travels a lot for work, but repairs to the countryside in Segovia at weekends where he can indulge his passion for cooking for friends, and finding mid-century modern furniture.
“It is important to disconnect. I like buying artisan crafts, perfumes, soaps and finding materials for a friend who is building a house.” His preferred reading is Stendhal and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is one of his favourite novels.
Currently designing a resort 2019 collection, he works with a team of 12 who hail from all over Spain and who are particularly skilled in various elements of fashion. “The most important thing is that the team becomes a kind of family who support me. Because it is my point of view of fashion and my particular world is very personal,” he says.
The Delpozo collection is stocked exclusively in Ireland in Brown Thomas.