CARLOS MIELE. / Photo: Getty Images.
You have devoted more than 15 years to fashion, but who was your first inspiration?
My first source of inspiration was my grandfather. He owned a dry cleaning business in Brazil, and I used to spend a lot of time with him. The images of evening dresses hanging from the ceiling, waiting to be washed; my grandfather treating them with his own hands, caring for each piece until it was flawless… were major influences for me.
I can still remember the smell of the shop, and I’ve kept his iron and ironing board as inspiring reminders. He was the first person to teach me the how important it was to dress a woman.
Which other factors steered you toward the world of design?
My learning evolved inside the art world. I started working with installations and exploring other channels of communication. Soon I was invited to show my work in museums exhibitions.
I like to cross boundaries and create dialogue through different forms of expression, such as video, music and fashion. This mixture of these seemingly disparate elements has always fascinated me, and it prevents me from being pigeonholed in a single medium. I can create my craft in a museum, in the streets, on stage… or on the catwalk.
How did you really start to earn a living through art?
I loved the art world, but it was difficult to make a living at the beginning, so I started designing and selling clothes.
Have your roots influenced your production?
I am certainly influenced by the exuberance of Brazil’s popular culture, the beauty of our landscapes, the biodiversity, and the blend of cultures of my compatriots. In my designs I try to join these elements of nature, based on the colors and textures that are ever present in the atmosphere of Brazil.
The brand Carlos Miele was founded in 2002, and Miele, the second, in 2006. What prompted you to create each of them?
I started Carlos Miele with eveningwear. That is what made me famous outside Brazil. The newer Miele label blends technology and craftsmanship, trademarks I adore because they establish a conversation between the contemporary and the traditional. They are meant to please cosmopolitan, sophisticated and independent women. This second line returns to the prints and colors from my first collections, but it also introduces more informal items such as cocktail dresses.
You received the Award for Best International Designer of the year at Miami Fashion Week 2013. How do you feel about it?
It has been an honor. I hope this award will bring attention to our goals. I want to inspire talented emerging designers to work, and get the recognition they deserve for their contributions to haute couture.
You have presented your designs in New York. How important is New York for a designer?
Having a fashion show in New York is a great window for any designer. After the first show there, I began to sell in more than 20 countries. It is not only the most American city; it is the most international city in the world. It is where it all happens: music, art, fashion. The cultural aspect is precisely what interests me most. The city is a spectacular melting pot for people from every corner of the world.
What can you tell us about the work you do with craftsmen from the favelas?
My work allows me to serve two different groups of women: those who wear my clothes and those who make them. Since I started my career I have worked to support several cooperatives in Brazil. These collaborations give many women the opportunity to work from home and earn a living, while caring for their children.
How would Carlos Miele define his style as a designer?
I design to celebrate and reaffirm the feminine shape. I have been greatly influenced by the way Brazilian women care for their bodies, with characteristic freedom. My clothes celebrate the female figure and unexpected sensuality.
What does Carlos Miele do when he is not designing?
I work a lot at home (in São Paulo, Florianópolis or New York) and also in my studio. In my spare time I like to play with my four-year-old son and practice outdoor sports. I also like martial arts, yoga and water sports.
How did you manage to combine technology and nature in your collection?
I try to establish a relationship between body, space and time, creating a dialogue and focusing on the old and new, on technology and craftsmanship, history and the future. With this perspective, I create a link between those two planes that normally never intermingle.
Your new “prêt à porter“ collection is based on this philosophy, but what other sources contributed to your inspiration?
For this fall-winter (2013), I created a collection called Walking the Line. I looked for a creative convergence of cut and design, combined with woven graphics, curvilinear silhouettes, and cuts that adapt to the natural shape of the body. In terms of colors, we used eye-catching tones, such as pink, orange, red or yellow. It is definitely a colorful collection. For many years we focused on dark colors. The brilliant tones will be strong next summer. And besides, they are part of my DNA.
Are jackets the must for next season?
Masculine pieces are fundamental in every woman’s wardrobe. A tweed Tuxedo is always a must have, not only in the coming months.
Jumpsuits and belts also predominate.
These belts are crucial accessories because they create an elegant and modern silhouette. The bodysuits have also become quite popular and are very easy to wear. They allow you to easily go from day to evening, only by changing a few accessories. They are very convenient in an era when every woman seems to be in a hurry.
How would you summarize your experience in Miami this year?
It has been amazing to present my latest collection to a new audience. Miami has great vibe and is surrounded by spectacular nature. In addition to being the capital of the Latin world, it is a cultural center for contemporary art thanks to Art Basel, one of the most prestigious art events in the United States. ■