25 Jul ÁGATHA RUÍZ DE LA PRADA: “WHEN I WAS SMALL, COMING TO LANZAROTE WAS THE BEST, EVERYTHING HERE WAS AMAZING.
The designer from Madrid, who has had a bond with the island since she was a child, will lead the 2nd edition of the Lanzarote Fashion Weekend, to be held on 18th May.
Designer Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada, and her colourful approach on design, will be leading the 2nd edition of the Lanzarote Fashion Weekend. This innovative international initiative organised by CACT Lanzarote, aims to use sustainability, nature and art, the natural values promoted by Lanzarote, as the best possible platform for international brands to reach their customers and strengthen the bond they have with them.
After the success last year with Custo, Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada, who feels very close to Lanzarote and to Cesar Manrique ever since she was a child, will be in charge of leading this new edition.
She admits that coming back to the island means a lot to her. “I spent a lot of time in Lanzarote, and I haven’t been back in so long, in nearly twenty years. I’m not sure why. I just kept talking to my kids about it but they still haven’t been there, so I’m very excited about going back”, she said. She also told us that she really wants her kids to finally visit the island during the celebration of the Lanzarote Fashion Weekend on 18th May.
PASSIONATE ABOUT DESIGN AND CULTURE
Her father was an architect and aristocrat from Madrid, and her mother a Catalonian aristocrat. Her life has always revolved around culture, art and design. “I was always painting, ever since I was very small. I used to love drawing and designing. I like architecture but I was a poor student. The truth is that my mum, who had teachers go to her house as opposed to being schooled, didn’t think too much of it. To tell you the truth, in a more conventional family I would have been an architect, that would have made sense”, she told us. “However, at a given time, I realised that fashion could be really important, and also that it combined everything I liked: design, drawing, clothes. I later realised that a fashion designer can do a lot of the things an architect does.”
Architecture has always been present in her life, and the ultimate architecture role model and design is in Lanzarote, an island designed by a unique artist. “When I was little we lived between Madrid and Barcelona, and we used to spend our summers first in San Sebastian and then in Majorca, but suddenly, my dad, who was an architect in Madrid, lost it all and things changed for us”, she said. “My dad got a call from César Manrique who told him: “Juan Manuel, come to the Canary Islands.” And so my dad purchased a small house in Gran Canaria and built his own house by the sea in Lanzarote. By then, my parents were practically separated. We lived with my mother and spent summers and Christmas here. I was around thirteen years old.”
LANZAROTE, A PARADISE
The designer remembers those days with a smile on her face. “I’ve got amazing memories about Lanzarote. My dad was a close friend of César Manrique and I ended up becoming a friend of his too, as much, or nearly even more than my dad”, she told us. “Back then he lived in his Casa de las Burbujas. Coming to Lanzarote was a real treat. While in the mainland there was a grey vibe around, and Franco was still alive, here everything was bright.”
Memories are flowing back. The Citizen watches they used to take back to Madrid, the Dutch cookies. “Lanzarote was the best. We went from Madrid to a stunning house on a black-rock coast, and we spent the whole day in our bathing suits, on an island that had, and continues to have, its very own amazing light”, she said. “Also, my dad was an art collector and was always surrounded by painters and artists. There was a very cultural vibe around us.”
Later on, the relationship between the artist and the designer strengthened. “In a time when men wouldn’t dream of wearing my designs, César wore Ágatha. He asked me for clothes and he wore it all, not a bother on him”, he said smiling. “Now it might seem normal, but it wasn’t at all back then.”
In her opinion, Manrique’s best creation was the Island itself. “His best work of art is Lanzarote, he dreamt of turning the island into a unique place, magic, exclusive, sophisticated and glamorous, and he managed to do it”, she said.
THE INFLUENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY OF CÉSAR MANRIQUE
Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada isn’t sure whether Lanzarote was the key influence that defined her unique style, but it surely made an impact. “At the end of the day, everything around us has an impact on us, and of course César Manrique made an impact on me as well as the island did. At home we had many of his paintings”, she told us. “I was always impressed at the thought of him having been able to design a whole island. If he could do that, I could design anything I wanted, towels, bags, bed sheets, shoes, anything.”
Her stay on the island also resulted in her passion for the environment and sustainability. “My parents, both of them, were very environmentally friendly, but our stay in Lanzarote made us even more aware of how significant this was”, she said. “Back then, we got our water from a tank truck. We couldn’t waste it. Ever since then, I became very aware of the scarcity of natural resources and that it was essential not to waste them”. “César dreamt of turning the island into a completely environmentally friendly place, and he managed to do so. A place that was already innately magic. That’s what everyone is after nowadays, at all the different destinations, but he was the first one to see it that way.”
Her memories of the island aren’t only about time spent with César Manrique or being at the beach. She also remembers Montañas del Fuego and their visits to Jameos del Agua. “In those days we used to swim at the pool in Jameos, I know you can no longer do that now. I thought it was such an incredible place”, she said.
It was actually Custo who told her about the Lanzarote Fashion Weekend. “We’re good friends and he was the one who told me about this project, and he encouraged me a lot”, she said. “At this point I still cannot tell you much about the collection I’ll be showing. As I already said, I hadn’t been to Lanzarote in twenty years, and this trip is key for me in that sense. I hope to get some inspiration and come up with a fabulous collection focused on the island.”
Next Saturday 18th May, from 20.00, the lava tube in Jameos del Agua will yet again turn into an international fashion show gathering specialised journalists, celebrities and well-known people to see the designer from Madrid.