As a horde of designers regurgitate trends that were hot back when I was still listening to the Spice Girls, it seems clear that the fashion industry has rediscovered the 90s. But, while those hacks simply rehash old styles, the techie streetwear brand Maria ke Fisherman uses the past as a launching pad for something new and exciting that pulls the zipper pants and mesh we loved from back in the day into a sexy cyberpunk future. Avant-garde bad bitches from all over the globe have started coveting the brand's wares, including the controversial and trendsetting stripper/rapper Brooke Candy.
Maria Lemus and Victor Alonso launched Maria ke Fisherman in Spain in 2011, fusing Victor’s background in science with Maria’s love for fashion. In honor of them giving VICE the pleasure of premiering their latest fall/ winter 2013 collection, I asked the design duo a few questions via email about what it's like to create garments so exciting they make girls (and guys) want to twerk on a racecar in a crop top.
Maria and Victor.
VICE: Did you both grow up in Spain?
Victor: Yes we did. Maria comes from a small town in the south of Spain. She was the weird girl at school because she always dressed artsy. She wanted to be a teacher and a dressmaker when she grew up, so she moved to Madrid in her teens to study education and later fashion studies.
Maria: Victor comes from a beltway hood in Madrid, he grew up with the street art movement, and studied science. He never was related directly to fashion until he met me. He has self-taught knowledge in arts.
Where do you usually draw inspiration from for your collections?
We are unfocused people, so we don't look for anything concrete. It's a mix of feelings and aesthetics. Our inspiration usually comes after a night of partying, during our hangover. We have to liberate our minds of a lot of trash. We feel this freedom in those morning hangovers.
How did you both first start designing clothes?
Maria: I never saw myself working for any other brand. I have a lot of my own ideas and the thought of developing other people’s ideas makes me sad. I like to do what I like and I don't mind having to fight for it. Victor and I first met and saw how our worlds fit perfectly. We knew we could make something big together.
Cyberpunk inspired your latest collection. Can you tell me a bit about that?
Whether we want it to or not, everything we create is a product of our past experiences. We were raised in the 90s, in the beginning of the digital era and during the decline of youth tribes. We liked the idea of picking up the blurry memories we have of some subcultures and mixing them up, not through deep research but by idealizing them. We mixed the cyberpunk wave with Spanish 90s tedious techno culture called “Bacalao” and neo Yakuza movies such as Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl, Ichi the killer, and Party 7.
Is it true the name Maria ke Fisherman came from Maria's love affair with a fisherman?
Maria: Yes. After finishing our studies, we moved to Greece for a year to redraw our futures. We took a trip to the island of Crete where there was an octogenarian English fisherman, who always carried a geranium on his ear and drank Raki (Greek liquor) every time we saw him. He was habitually sad because of an old love, but he awoke every morning playing a loud cassette player with only three tapes: Bod Dylan, Cat Stevens, and Rembetiko, a traditional Greek music.
Victor: Maria fell in love with his story, appearance and way of living. One morning she brought him a brand new fresh geranium. She later drew on a bar cloth “Maria ke Fisherman” surrounded by a heart. “Ke” means “and” in Greek. Maria says that I can be Fisherman, but I don't believe her.
Victor, how does your background in science influence your designs?
Victor: Science gives me a scientific way of thinking. I believe this is one of my best qualities. I’m a bit techie. That gives me a natural way to focus and process any brainteaser or challenge in my life. Our designs embody the pursuit of aesthetic freedom and mathematical perfection.
You usually have crazy nail art on your models, what role does that play in your collections? I love nail art.
Victor: We like to understand fashion like a game and we love the details. I like to believe we have fractal minds reaching the infinite by these small niceties. A nail is the highest model of the smallest, there you can synthesize or add messages to your designs.
I know Brooke Candy wears a lot of your pieces, she has a very sexualized and aggressive persona, does she embody the type of girl you design for?
Maria: Her energy matches almost perfectly with the brand's concept. She is clever and ironic and does whatever she wants. We make clothes to cause an emotional response, like Brooke does with here music. It’s for any girl who needs an outlet to convey to the world her best self.
It seems like you guys have had a lot of success since you started in 2011. What was it like in the earliest days of the brand?
Maria: We were partying and playing like kids 24/7, just living a hedonistic dream. Life has become high maintenance, living under pressure. We are learning more than we would like to. But, we are happy with people understanding and liking our work. We are always trying to reach a further goal.
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