For the past few weeks the Gustavo Bacarisas gallery in Casemates Square has played host to haute couture. The Rock Fashion Rocks exhibition has now sadly come to an end but last week I took a few minutes out of my day to pay it a visit. From the moment I set foot in the building it was clear that this wasn’t your average exhibition!
Described as a retrospective exhibition celebrating fashion design in Gibraltar over the past forty years, I was looking forward to finding out a lot more about the Rock’s fashion heritage.
The first section of the exhibition was dedicated to the work of two of Gibraltar’s fashion designers who are now no longer with us; Eduardo Viotto (1961 – 1994) and Johnny Pearce (1946 – 1987).
Eduardo (or Eddie as he was known) first came in fashion through designing costumes for theatre productions in Gibraltar and in 1984 won a competition to design the Miss Gibraltar National Costume to be worn by the winner at the Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss Europe pageants. He studied in London but returned to Gibraltar and worked here on a number of collections and for clients.
Johnny Pearce, a Gibraltarian designer, who travelled to London to work, secured a job in the 1960s with the British fashion designer, Norman Hartnell (who designed clothes for the royal family). He later returned to Gibraltar and went into partnership with another designer, Nalanie Chellaram to form their own collection known as JOANAL which sold to clientele which included Baronesses, Countesses and Princesses.
The next section, was the one I am most familiar with, it featured work created by my dressmaking teacher, Dorcas Hammond:
To find out a bit more about Dorcas’s story, please take a look at this post, which I wrote about her last year. In her section of the exhibition were a number of beautiful gowns which she designed and created, including the one below which was worn by last year’s successful Miss Gibraltar contestant Jodie Garcia.
Dorcas has won several designer competitions including the Agulha de Ouro (Golden Needle) in Portugal, back in 2004. Her trophy of a golden needle was on display in the exhibition too. To see more of Dorcas’s current designs, and maybe even buy one for yourself, check out her online shop.
Sharing this section with Dorcas, was another designer who has made many outfits for Miss Gibraltar pageants; Priscilla Sacramento. Priscilla did her dressmaking and design work alongside her day job as a teacher and ultimately the headteacher of St Martin’s Special School in Gibraltar. Her vast portfolio includes many hats and fascinators, as well as the beautiful gowns below:
Next up was Jane Langdon. Jane trained as an artist in Florence and Madrid before returning to Gibraltar. She now turns her beautiful art work into fabric for garments and accessories:
Tiana Langdon (daughter of Jane Langdon) is also an artist and designer. Having studied at Central St Martins, she worked with John Galliano at the House of Dior. She later worked freelance for a number of fashion houses including Loewe, Emanuel Ungaro, Mala Mujer, Revillon, Roberto Cavalli and Missoni.
Giorann Henshaw is well known in Gibraltar in the Arts & Crafts scene, she’s a founder of the Gibraltar Arts & Crafts association, as well as being an artist and art teacher. She was accepted for a one year foundation course at Royal Worcester Porcelain when she was seventeen and there learned how to paint china and porcelain. She later graduated to work in the factory painting dinnerware, and other ceramic items. Giorann loves to paint flowers and landscapes and began painting shoes for her cousin Dorcas Hammond, who needed a pair to match a dress she had painted. She continued to paint satin shoes after that along with clothing and soft furnishings.
Willa Vasquez was born in Gibraltar to a family of artists, and over the past 40 years has taught many adults and children to paint. She has also designed dresses and wedding gowns, along with jewellery. She recently launched her own brand of 100% silk scarves featuring designs from her own art work.
Paul Perez (designs featured below) first began sewing under the tuition of his grandmother, he later went to Epsom to study Fashion Design. He designs luxury clothing as well as teaching young people in schools in design based subjects.
Gabriella Sardeña knew from early on that she wanted a career in fashion. She learned to sew as a child and studied for a Textiles GCSE for which she created a hand painted kimono. Gabriella later worked at Dorcas Hammond’s studio where she learned pattern cutting and precision sewing before heading to Manchester School of Art to study for her degree. Winning an internship at ‘Old Navy’ in San Francisco during her final year, and then a six month paid internship at French brand Celine on completion of her Masters, who knows where the years ahead will take her.
Christel Mifsud Victory set up her own label ‘Shorji” in 2013 and went on to open Gibraltar’s first sportswear boutique in September 2015. Originally, Christel started designing due to the lack of clothing she found available for petite women like herself. Her best selling items are leggings and she has a fascination for print and bold colours.
Gail Howard (below) has had no formal training in Art and Design, but still managed to win the Runway New Designer Competition 2016 in Gibraltar, she then exhibited in London Fashion week in February last year and her collection was very well received. Gail is another designer to look out for in the future.
The final section of the exhibition featured two outfits created by Dorcas Hammond, firstly the Gibraltar National Dress which is worn by Miss Gibraltar contestants when they represent the Rock in international competitions such as Miss World:
And the dress worn by Kaiane Aldorino when she won the Miss World crown for Gibraltar in 2009.
Until I set foot into the exhibition I really didn’t have a clue about the amazing heritage of fashion design that’s here on the Rock. What an amazing place to live, amongst so much talent and creativity. Thank you so much to both the designers and the organisers of the exhibition – it was truly eye opening.