In August 2017 Sofia Moreno-Marcos sent a show-stopping debut couture collection down the runway as part of Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane.
The QUT fashion graduate’s collection was part of MBFF’s Next Hotel Next Gen Group Show, which celebrates the work of emerging local designers. In our opinion, Moreno Marcos clearly won Best in Show with a mesmerizing collection of dramatic silhouettes, over-the-top volume and statement millinery, delivered in deep shades of red and magenta against black. Sofia takes heavy influence from her Peruvian heritage, not just in terms of colour but also by employing traditional dressmaking methods. Intricate embroidery is a main feature of Moreno Marcos, with many pieces carefully hand-made by skilled artisans in Cusco-Peru. Natural fibres including lambswool and alpaca are hand-sewn onto fabrics such as denim and silk organza.
Drawing heavily from the designer’s Peruvian heritage, Moreno Marcos is a mesmerizing collection of dramatic silhouettes, sumptuous embroidery and statement millinery, delivered in deep shades of red and magenta against black.
The last time we saw Sofia Moreno-Marcos was at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival luncheon back in August – the day after the Next Hotel Next Gen Show. Standing around the pool with other designers on the rooftop terrace, I cooed over Sofia’s embroidered denim jacket then proceeded to plant myself directly opposite both she and Lydia James (Lydia James Couture) for lunch. Parting ways shortly after, we promised to keep in touch and talk more about that collection of dresses. So this week, the ever-gracious Sofia took some time to catch us up on the last five months of what has been an amazing year:
TGW: What have you been up to since that amazing MBFF show in August? And how was Brisbane Fashion Runway?
SM: I’ve been focusing on custom made orders and working on my next collection. I have also taken some time to relax and have a little break away from my studio, which is very important to clear my mind from the stress that comes with creating a new collection.
Brisbane Fashion Runway was a great experience, as well as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival. Moreno Marcos got such a great positive response, I am really happy people appreciate craftsmanship and sustainability in fashion, as this is definitely what Moreno Marcos stands for.
TGW: We first met you at the MBFF Next Hotel luncheon and it was so much fun. Do you have many other relaxed opportunities like that, where you get to meet other designers and just talk about your inspiration and your work?
SM: I wish there were more opportunities like that. I recently joined a Facebook group for fashion designers in Brisbane who aim to support each other, hopefully we can have a meet up soon. Apart from that, I have met other designers recently at Brisbane Fashion Festival and Brisbane Fashion Runway. Even though the styles and target market are different, I think we all can relate to the fact that we work hard to get out there and make an impact and contribute to the Australian fashion industry.
TGW: Your debut collection, entitled Acllahuasi, blew us away at MBFF. What was your reason for calling it Acllahuasi, meaning “house of the chosen women” in Quechua language?
SM: Acllahuasi was a place where selected, skillful women lived. They had different skills in textiles and food, with some also prepared to become the future wife of the Inca, during the Inca Empire. These women were highly regarded and carefully chosen from the rest, to receive education. These days I can see strong women all over the world who choose themselves to make a positive impact and leave a trace by standing up for themselves and their principles. These courageous women are who inspired me to choose the name.
The ACLLHUASI (ahk-lyah-WAH-see) collection holds sentimental value for Sofia and is in her words “more than an ode, an eternal party, a nostalgic celebration of the place where I always long to return.”
TGW: You graduated from QUT (Bachelor of Fine Arts, Fashion Design – Creative Industries) with a special “Exceptional Manipulation of Fabric” award at your Graduate Show. What inspires your adoration of fabrics, texture and volume?
SM: I was incredibly happy I received such an amazing award from Liz Golding from Illuminate Management. Over time I design, starting with an idea that goes around and around in my head, taking multiple shapes and textures like some sort of malleable material that changes constantly.
Then I start looking for that special fabric – the right weight, drape and colour to start playing with. The beginning of a design is more like a vague sketch; once I start draping I revise then reset multiple times and take photos to keep a record of the evolution of the design before it’s finished. Even then, there is always more. The next step for me is upcycling – I recycle and upcycle whatever is left from previous collections to incorporate into new designs. I have a very inquisitive nature, so am always looking for new ways to create shapes and textures to use in custom-made designs.
TGW: We hear you also love painting, and this makes sense when considering your clothing designs. How often do you paint?
SM: I haven’t done much painting on paper lately, but I do so in fabrics. I find it quite calming and satisfying. I have a few designs but just haven’t had the opportunity to use them yet.
TGW: You place emphasis on craftsmanship, luxury and sustainability and are inspired by (among other things) history and culture. If we had a fashion house we’d be too intimidated to hire you as an intern! Could you really see yourself working for someone else?
SM: Ha ha, absolutely! I would love to be an intern for Paul Hunt, in Brisbane. I can see myself learning so much from him… so if you’re reading this Paul, please take me?
I know there are probably more opportunities in Sydney and Melbourne but I would rather create a presence in Brisbane, working to put MORENO MARCOS out there as a Queensland Couture house. I know there is a long road ahead but everything is possible!
I would love to be an intern for Paul Hunt, in Brisbane. I can see myself learning so much from him…
TGW: Finally, you’ve already made a small (yet significant) contribution to Queensland fashion and arts. You were born in Peru but have lived in Brisbane for some years. So would you say you are equally as proud of making your fashion mark as a Queenslander, as that of a native Peruvian?
SM: I love that you mention Arts because doing a Fashion Installation is one of my goals. I’m not sure how soon it will happen but it is definitely something I would love to do. I was born and bred in Peru, however I’m an Australian citizen now and have been living in Australia for 10 years (6 in Adelaide and 4 in Brisbane).
Doing a Fashion Installation is one of my goals.
Although I will always be proud of my heritage, I consider myself an Australian fashion designer, as it was in this wonderful country that I got the opportunity to start my biggest adventure yet. I am truly grateful for all the love MORENO MARCOS has received so far and I promise to keep everyone on their toes.
Sofia, we hope plans to release your ready-to-wear collection are not too far away, because we are still pining over your embroidery.
All photography: Chi Yeung