There is something magical in the internet, not only it makes us feel less alone but it has the power to connect you with people that you secretly admire and that you wish you had met in your school playground. I’ve been following Paula Robles‘s work for a while. She writes, she styles, she takes photos, and she has something difficult to describe which made me want to know her better. From her images I could deduce she loved fashion and that she had a very peculiar sensibility inspired by the ‘teen universe’ that we find in movies or books. Lately I’ve been interested in the relation between fashion and emotions, how fashion expresses certain emotions, nostalgia in particular. And Paula seemed like a perfect match for my latest concerns. I’m very grateful for her answers. I hope you enjoy them as much as I love this conversation!
Who is Paula Robles?
I studied fashion design at IED Madrid. I knew back then that I didn’t want to be a fashion designer, but I always had been fascinated by costume design and fashion, mainly by seeing it in the movies. Watching films where clothes played a central character made me eager to learn more about the subject. After studying fashion design I also studied some other fashion courses abroad. And I’m currently majoring in philosophy, which may sound odd to some, but I think that the greatest thing about fashion is that it merges with art, consumerism, social issues, and many other things. Philosophy gives you a way to think from different perspectives, and fashion is all about the perspectives.
I work as a freelance fashion stylist and also write about culture and fashion in magazines like Glamour or Vanidad. I run a small publishing company named Pettirosso Press along with Jorge de Cascante, we publish zines and art books. Right now I’m also starting a personal project that I’m really excited about, but I’m quite supersticious so I’d rather say no more.
What kind of emotions do you wish to communicate with your editorial stylings?
I try to create images that go beyond fashion. To achieve this images that exist in your mind, it’s necessary to share a good connection with the photographer. It’s not about showing the latest dress or trend, it’s about telling a story or at least insinuate one, as it happens in the photos of Avedon, Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton or Corinne Day, the artists who made me fall in love with fashion photography. I like photographs that make you want to know more about the people in them, like wanting to read a whole novel with those characters, photographs that intrigue you. But if someone likes any of my images, that would be enough for me.
What means nostalgia to you?
It’s a feeling that I experienced during my teenage (and pre-teenage) years. I used to think about it as something bad, something that makes you suffer, but now I see it differently, I don’t think it’s bad at all. Somehow, nostalgia has shaped the way I approach aesthetics, it includes memories, stories, far beyond the material world, deep into something much more profound. I work from there, or at least I try, when I deal with the —apparently— superficial field of aesthetics.
How did the idea for “Cast a Shadow” came up?
Cast a Shadow came up from the urge that Jorge and I had of collaborating with each other. We feel very comfortable using language and images, and making a zine seemed perfect for that. We choose to make something about plaster casts because I always felt casts were cool when I was little there was always some kid with a cast in his arm or in his leg, but it never happened to me, so I probably developed some weird survivors guilt. Jorge liked the idea, and we made it happen.
How does cinema, and particularly certain “teen films”, inspire you?
As I said, cinema had always been a constant source of inspiration for me. Teen films were a revelation when I discovered them. Most people don’t take the genre seriously, but they’re wrong, a teen film can tell any story, the possibilities are endless, you have classics such as Splendor in the Grass, apparently bland comedies such as Pretty in Pink, or cult little-known movies such as À nos amours, somehow it covers the whole arch. I don’t know the exact reason why I’m fascinated by them, I’ve thought about it many times and I can’t find an exact answer, but I guess it has something to do with nostalgia (again). You see the film, you remember your own teen years, you think about the life you wish you had back then, or just how your life was back in the day. Also, the look and feel of the films tend to be especially original and beautiful.
As a matter of fact, one of the films that most recently made a mark on my mind is La pistola de mi hermano, a spanish flick that can be put in the genre “teen films”. It’s a perfect example of everything I like in those kinds of films: characters and dialogue that makes you think, and a combination of cinematography and music that you don’t easily forget.
A fictional character that you would like to style
Most of the fictional characters that comes to my mind are from the movies (the main characters of The last days of disco, Geraldine Chaplin in any of her movies with Carlos Saura, Ali McGraw in Love Story, Shirley Knight in The Rain People, Shelley Duvall and Sissy Spacek in 3 Women or Carrie, and Isabelle Adjani in any of her 80’s films, among many many others) and one of the main reasons why I like them so much is because of the costume design of those movies, so I probably should leave that alone.
Years ago, I thought that someone should produce a remake of Clueless with Elle Fanning in the role of Alicia Silverstone; I would have loved to work on that. I also would have liked to dress Rebecca, the ghost character from the Hitchcock film.
Oh! And Esther .