San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
International Design Festival

'Happy Fashion' - a famed designer's way of life

See also: Popular festival returns to San José 

The internationally renowned Spanish fashion designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada is visiting Costa Rica for the first time as a presenter at the International Design Festival, taking place this weekend in San José. She sat down with The Tico Times to talk about thriving in a difficult industry, serendipity, and Costa Rican hairstyles.

TT: What is your story?

AR: I started at a young age working at a store, and at the age of 20 I had my first fashion show. I was very lucky when I did that exhibition – it was an important time for artists in Spain because the Movida Madrileña movement was taking place. It was fun! Since then, I have continued to have fun, and I am still enjoying it.

The organizers of this festival are extraordinary people. In Spain, festivals like this one are financed by the government. These organizers are young people trying to find themselves, and that impressed me a lot. Creating and organizing your own festival is a difficult task. It includes different design categories such as fashion design, graphic design, and architectural design. It is an unusual exhibition; it is amazing! I am so excited.

Did you expect a great welcome here in Costa Rica?

I had never come to Costa Rica before. Every time I went to the airport I saw a flight to San José; there is always a daily flight between Madrid and Costa Rica. Yesterday, I came in a plane that was piloted by two women. The plane was so full – it was packed to bursting. Now I have realized how important Costa Rica is, and since arriving, I have noticed that there is a young, emergent movement going on here. The hairstyles here are quite fun.

What led you to create your current project?

I was really into the idea of creating something that merged art and fashion. My fashion is not a trend; it is rather a strange fashion if you do not understand art. If you understand art, you will comprehend my language in five minutes. I wanted to be a painter before becoming a designer. I come from a family of architects, so I have always been involved with art. I have my own art language, which at the beginning was very strange and very weird, but then it became a very normal language. I then began designing bed sheets, towels, notebooks, sunglasses, perfumes…everything you can imagine.

How have you been able to expand your product line?

I really don’t know how I have achieved that. I get amazed even by thinking about it. For example, why am I here? The organizers told me that they had invited me to the festival by asking via my webpage. No one answered them. Suddenly, a friend of mine, Karim Rashid, who designed my store in New York, spoke with them and then told me I should come. It’s one of those things that occur in life that you really don’t know why they happen.

What message are you trying to transmit through your designs?

The conference I will deliver here is called Happy Fashion. I believe that for the same price you can be either happy or miserable; I prefer to be happy. There are many people that do not choose to be happy. Many women who may have tons of money are sometimes miserable. For example, my mother was a very beautiful woman who had everything she could ask for, but she was an unhappy person. She suffered from depression. Don’t believe that everyone prefers to be happy.

How is conceptual design an important part of Agatha Ruiz de la Prada?

The idea of conceptual design is very important for me. I have a son named Tristán. He is named after [French avant-garde poet and artist] Tristan Tzara, who did many things with a conceptual idea. You have to really understand them. I have made outfits that have wheels or birds within them, even water. You go to a party with a dress that has a wheel and everyone gets super anxious about it. It is about understanding the concept behind it.

Agatha Ruiz de la Prada will be speaking today at 4:55 p.m. at the International Design Festival, Antigua Aduana. Info: Festival website.

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