Guatemalan Designer Edgar Navarro

Edgar Navarro is Guatemalan designer-founder of a brand called Maison Escarlata. He specializes in clothing and jewelry and his brand is based on the belief that all pieces should have a spiritual and mystical background, so all of his products have a human hand behind it, whether it is by adding a hand embroidery detail or applying artisanal techniques to the jewelry as well. All the stones you see in the collection also have a deep spiritual meaning, they’re all selected based on crystal therapy principles and the idea behind it is that you don’t just take an accessory with you; you’re acquiring a storybook and a source of energy.

When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?

Growing up I saw how my grandmother and basically all the women in my family used fashion to express their self-confidence and personality. I think that really formed my path towards fashion. I started doing theater and contemporary dance when I turned 15 and there I understood that clothing is way more than just pieces of fabric, it can really change your whole persona. So I started to realize that one of the things that I really wanted to do is to create characters and tell my story through clothes and accessories.

What’s it like being in the Fashion industry?

I think the fashion industry is one of the most exciting things I’ve experienced. You live in a constant thrill and I think it makes you push yourself to new boundaries and sides of your creativity that you didn’t even know you had. Personally I use it as a way of expression, not everyone uses it that way, some designers are more focused on the commercial side of the industry, but I´ve found that is also a way of collaborating with so many talented artist that help you find your aesthetic and contribute to giving a voice to your ideas.

Having those collaborations and realizing that the fashion industry is way bigger than models and designers; from makeup artists to photographers, editors, etc… they all make you challenge yourself in different ways, and you get to challenge them as well. So personally I think is a way of growing also creative wise. Of course, there are challenges and things or people that may not help you as much, or even become an obstacle in the way, but it all depends on what bridges you decide to take and which ones you decide to burn.

How is the fashion industry in Guatemala?

Guatemala´s fashion industry has been growing in the last 10 years. The idea of a ¨industry¨ per se was something that wasn’t even a possibility before, but there has been a huge change in the last few years with all the designers and creative people that have helped to shape what we have now. It’s been an exciting process since everything is new you really get to be a pioneer in whatever side of the industry you choose to develop, so it’s a one of a kind opportunity that not many people get to experience.

Also as a country, we have such a strong cultural background and roots that you see inspiration every way you go. We have one of the biggest and most rich textile heritages on the continent and that´s also something that has been a huge inspiration for my work. I think when most people think of fashion, the last place that crosses their mind is Guatemala, but I think that concept will change in the years to come, as a society we’ve been through a lot and that also evolves into strong identity and strong ideas. There are so many interesting things happening here and it’s a shame that not many people get to see the evolution of a movement and a whole country. Guatemala has a lot to give to the world.

What was your first job in the fashion industry?

My first gig in fashion started as an internship with a Dutch designer named Marjolein Keijsper developing collections for international clients using artisanal techniques. I interned for a month and then she hired me to take some of her clients and develop the collections by myself. It was a great way of understanding what clients expect and how to launch a collection promoting the work of Guatemalan artisans without losing the quality and standards that the international market requires.

Talk about the changes in your life since you’ve your own Brand.

It changed completely, I think when you work for a brand as a designer is one thing, but when you have your own brand it’s the truest reflection of your essence as a creative being. The lines between your personal life and your work start to blur and you become your own creation, so you breathe, eat and live your inspiration every day. I get really involved in each part of the process, from the materials to the creation of the campaign and lookbook, it´s all a reflection of my personality. So my brand became the most part of my life, not as a job but as a way of performance.

In one word: how would you define yourself as a designer?


What advice would you pass along to those starting in the Fashion Business?

Always have your ears open but don´t be afraid of what people may think. You have to be as honest as possible with you and believe in what you´re doing. This job is not a one-man task, so keep your collaborators close and make sure to build strong relationships with other crafts inside the industry.

Tell us about your last collection

My last collection was actually my first collection incorporating clothing into the brand. I started only with accessories and part of my identity as a brand is making those accessories feel like clothing, so you´ll find body pieces using the same techniques that I use in necklaces.

For me, adding a clothing line to the brand was the next natural step for the house since I never saw myself as an accessories only designer, but I wanted the pieces to have the same feeling that the jewelry had, so the textures were really important when I was choosing fabrics.

I used sequined fabrics and hand embroidery details with crystals in each coat to have the metallic feeling and the essence of the human hand involved in the process. By only creating coats and outwear inspired pieces I applied the same concept of having something that you can combine with every look without losing the wow factor that the jewelry has.

What was the inspiration for your last collection?

My last collection is called Genesis, and the concept was born because I was going through a renovation phase as a creative director and in my personal life, so it became a new path for the brand as well, not just because I was doing clothing but because it was the beginning of the new era for the house.

I used the concept of Genesis taking references from the birth of a new civilization, one that´s traveling to another planet and reconstructing the idea of society itself. This journey through space reveals different behaviors and breaks the establishment of how our personal interaction works on earth.

I wanted the pieces to reflect these new textures and colors that you could experience in a different environment, so I did a lot of research to find the right stones and materials that could translate that to the pieces. There´s a feeling of nostalgia to it, thinking what would be the things that we would take with us to remember our past life on our planet, so the pendants and earrings have crystallized plants encapsulate in glass representing that totem that we´re taking with us.

The color pallet is also inspired by these new experiences, using metallic textures and pastels in clothing and microbiologic and cosmic alike textures in stones like Agate and Quartz to symbolize the components that conform to this new place we´ll call home.

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