We caught up with fashion designer and impresario Sonia Ferrer in her wonderful finca house studio in Ibiza to talk about Delbes, her brainchild brandalready making big waves in the fashion scene.
Formidable Mag: What was your first creative impulse? Sonia Ferrer.My first impulse as a designer was art as a form of self-expression. For Delbes, I drew inspiration from my great-grandmother, a living history of Ibiza, and my need to build a fashion system in which history, art, and balance with the environment will go hand in hand. Also, regaining traditional artisan techniques is my main goal.
F.M. Is there some epiphany moment that made you realize fashion would be your way? S.F.All the time. Initially, I wanted to make art, I did not care what, I only wanted to create. Since I was a child art has been the easiest form of expression I’ve ever had; to write, to draw, to create compositions… to create things in any way possible. Since I started my fashion career until I came up with Delbes, a lot happened in my life. Even so, I always knew that I wanted to develop this “company” project. I have to admit that I was not so sure that it ended up being a way of life for all that it implies but I had to do it. But by my third year in fashion school, I was so horrified by the fashion industry that I had to take a gap year to find back my purpose. While traveling, someone in Australia asked me if Ibiza was open in winter. This question reminded me of my original goal in fashion and my commitment to my home island. I had to create Delbes not only as a fashion brand but also as art, as history, as timeless designs for real life, as top quality garments 100% made in Ibiza, 100% natural, unique pieces with a reason for being out in the world.
F.M. What are the influences behind your designs? S.F. My main influence is the history of the island and its traditional crafts, what I call the “real” Ibiza, the most rural, the Ibiza of peasant women like my great-grandmother. But I’m also influenced by many other things; lifestyles, old and current, in which due to scarcity nothing goes to waste, because Delbes is all about “NO WASTE”. On a personal level, the island weather my emotions, my feelings, my mood at any given moment also impact my design. The only thing I won’t let influence me is trends becausecreating pieces for a lifetimeis my main goal. With proper care, Delbes’ pieces could last for generations.
F.M. How did Delbes Ibiza come to life? S.F. Good question. When I finished fashion school I was working as a designer for a fashion company here in Ibiza. I spent a year with them, but my creative self was constantly calling me. During that year I moved to the mountains in a house my grandfather built before I was born where I set up a little workshop. When I felt ready I quit my job to create and show a selection of pieces just to give it a try. I posted my designs on social media. To my surprise, people visiting the island began to contact me to buy my pieces. So I set up private sales by appointment only in my previous atelier in San Juan. I personally cared for each visitor, something I still do to this day, I altered pieces if needed or even designed custom or unique pieces for wedding events. The experience did not leave anyone indifferent and the truth is that I still love attending my customers personally.
F.M. Why Ibiza? S.F. I and all my family ancestors for as far back as I could search and verify are all from Ibiza. So it had to be Ibiza, because of my love for my family, and my love to the Island that has always been instilled in me. Because I feel Ibiza always stuck with me, so I felt I had to help keep its crafts and history, which also brings great joy to me!
F.M. What are the concepts and ideas behind the brand? S.F. To rebuild Ibiza’s history through art and unique designs made by hand. To make fashion art, valuable pieces, and to provide work all year round for those magnificent artisans that we still have on the island. In this way, young people with passion could see crafts as a viable way to make a living. As I often say, we rebuild our history, our origins, and its most artisan techniques.
F.M. Your production is 100% Ibiza made, also you employ a whole network of craftsmen for your production. Was it difficult to find these craftsmen in Ibiza? is craftsmanship thriving on the island? S.F. It was not difficult, but for a simple reason. As I mentioned, I am Ibizan, but I also started in traditional dance when I was only two years old. So I have spent my whole life working hand in hand with those artisans to create our costumes. I guess it also was Delbes’ main reason for coming into being. The more you get to know me, the more sense the whole operation makes.
F.M. Your studio is in an idyllic traditional finca house in Ibiza. Would you say your studio setting influences your work? S.F. It does and it doesn’t. Of course, the working environment is always extremely important, but in my case, I could not say it has a great influence, to me my studio is the epitome of all these I’m talking about. It is not a fake, a pose, or just a pretty decor. It’s the door to my home, to my life, and to my family. It roots me to the island.
F.M. Is the studio just a place for production or also inspiration is inherent to the studio space? S.F. Well, of course, both, inspiration, and mayhem, happens in the studio. But as you can see its architecture and decor keep the essence of Ibiza, it speaks of craftsmanship. It’s also my home so it’s more personal than just a workspace. It relaxes me, it calms me and gives me the calm I need to design. There are lots of inspirational moments within the studio, just looking at those beautiful wooden ceilings that my grandfather built for instance. I feel great love during those moments. But I work modeling the old fashioned way. The initial idea gives me the energy to start and it usually stays in essence and evolves as I work. Perhaps the painting side of my production id when the studio has more influence since it’s pure emotion, I paint my silk pieces in the living room. hahaha.
F.M. How is a day in the life of Sonia Ferrer? S.F. Always long. hahaha. I’d love to tell you the ideal, artist, idyllic side of it, but actually It’s hard, although I love every bit of it. I get up very early, always before the sunlight comes out. It’s a moment for myself that I truly enjoy. I feel that I can plan my day undisturbed. Then I have a coffee and reality begins, Delbes takes on; emails, suppliers, networking, etc. everything is activated. I go to my workshop where time truly flies. Depending on the day I take care of production, but the best days are when I create new pieces that will go into production. At around 4 pm, if needed, I meet with artisans. Sunsets are like a religion to me. Writing is part of my way of life. In fact, all the collections are accompanied by a very personal piece of text, stagnant emotions that need to come out. I try to meet my friends as much as possible. Also, I’m a very family-oriented person. And contradictory for me, time in solitude is as important as time socializing. I end the day at my house, with my cats, my notebook writing everything that goes through my mind after the day experiences and emotions. Every day I try to learn new things, a very important person in my life told me, “never take the same path to get to the same place, only then we find new experiences”
F.M. What do you love and hate about Ibiza? S.F. I love its history, its sea, its sand, its people, the way of life here, its architecture, its fields, its sunsets, its traditions, its town festivals, but above all the freedom you can enjoy in Ibiza. Its countryside is known to the very few, it’s where tradition mixes with the new ways of the latest generations. Among many other things. We’ll see, but I also love Ibiza for what it could be in the near future. What I hate the most is the wild parties, the discos, how it was oriented to mass tourism without any regard for its culture. I think that throughout our recent history the art scene of the island has been neglected. We reshaped the island to the tourist industry needs instead of making them appreciate it for what it’s worth. We simply gave them what they were looking for, even if that meant selling off. But I believe we are in a moment of change, we have already begun to value what we are and what we have. In the near future things will be different. I wish so. And that’s a goal I share with many other great artists of the island.
F.M. What’s on your playlist? S.F. In my playlist, you can find a little bit of everything, even music I really don’t like but take me to moments I love. I think of myself as an extremely sensitive person so I’m driven by emotions. I love rock’n’roll, dance music, classical music, and singer-songwriter musicin my most sensitive moments. I’d say that I like almost everything depending on the moment. But you’ll never find club music on my list, even though I dance to it with friends and I enjoy it as much as anyone. Music is an art and as such, any kind of music has its moment.
F.M. Our motto is “A life less ordinary”, what makes life less ordinary/worth living? S.F. Small moments, family, friends, friendship, love, affection, and for me, art is extremely important too. Our job, to which we dedicate more than 60% of our time, it’s very important, so whatever it is, it must be something with a purpose. We must find out why we are here and how to do our best. I believe that every human being has something to offer so it is very important we find it out and share it.