After a four-year suspension, the traditional fashion show of the Victoria’s Secret lingerie brand is back. And it’s back with a lot of changes. One of them is the participation of a group of 20 women from four countries (Colombia, England, Japan and Nigeria) who were chosen so that the world would know their talents. One of them is Antioquian designer Melissa Valdés Duque.
It all started over a year ago. They first contacted him on Instagram, saw his work there, and then he had an interview while he was in Paris doing an internship at the Chanel embroidery house. It’s sincere. He told them that he didn’t have a brand or a workshop, that at that time he was still a student, he graduated a few months ago from Medellín College. That he is 23 years old—he is 24—. This attracted them.
The challenge: create a collection that reflects a part of Melissa. They employ workers. She built a workshop and put together a great team with many women who participated in this dream: two design students from Sena, a confessionalist, a crochet expert and the neighbors from the neighborhood where he grew up in Carolina del Príncipe, under the direction of his mother, Himaya. His father, Jairo, also helped him: he sewed with them.
The concept of this proposal arose from how to tell a story from visual elements. And he left because of injuries. His, the women he saw on the street and his mother after overcoming a rare disease. Wounds that are more than wounds. Those that are visible, but also those that are not. The wounds that mark the way.
“I have always connected fashion to something and so I can tell people what I do is to find its meaning. That it is not only about a scar, but about everything behind it. As a child I suffer from bullying because of the shape of my body, and that’s my scar, that mark that people don’t see, but that marks me. Scars are not the only stories carved on the body, but the everything hidden inside,” said Valdés.
There were 14 pieces made in two months. These dresses are worn by Adriana Lima and Gigi Hadid, two of the most visible faces of Victoria’s Secret angels. He also dressed the Chocoan singer Goyo and the choreographer Piscis Canizales, who is also part of the representation for Colombia in this event together with the filmmaker Cristina Sánchez and the painter Lorena Torres.
She uses the crochet technique with many types of unusual materials: metal chains, guaya (steel cable), plastic pipes, cotton, beads. One of the fabrics she used was produced for this collection in Switzerland by Jakob Schlaepfer, the company that produces fabrics for luxury brands such as Chanel and Prada. A fabric that allows him to create a representation very similar to what stretch marks are on the body.
The fashion films of The Tour 23, which can be seen starting this Tuesday, September 26, on Amazon Prime, were recorded in Barcelona, Spain. Melissa was in charge of choosing the models. The piece worn by Adriana Lima, black and falling at the end, was practically made by Melissa’s mother and the neighbors of the town. Gigi’s is silver and made of metal, it weighs about 20 kilos. Also on the list are Yseult, a plus-size French singer, and trans model Alex Consani.
“Adriana is very excited to return to Victoria’s Secret, because it returns after five children, and also to Casa Bogotá, the Latin representation. She is happy to crochet because she said that her grandmothers are in Brazil also makes this technique and that she wants to learn. Gigi has a brand of knitting, so she likes it too,” remembers Melissa.
Fashion as heritage
The taste of fashion is in his blood. Since she was a child, Melissa grew up watching her grandmother Eliza and her mother make patterns, molds, crafts and crochet, techniques that, when she grew up, inspired her to make his own creations seen in fairs such as Colombiamoda ( three times) and in competitions in the United States, France and Holland.
At first he hesitated to study Fashion Design, he wanted to become a doctor. He felt that he had no aesthetic references to enter the world of fashion. She grew up far from catwalks and models, but very close to her grandmother, mother and neighbors who were quite good at embroidery. However, he entered college and did well.
He has a younger sister, Ana Isabel, who is now also part of his workshop. Almost everyone in the house is involved in the project of Melissa, who these days is thinking about reactivating her handmade accessories brand.
The designer of Antioch, when he is far from threads and needles, prefers to be silent: he meditates. The mind is earth. Flowing. He has some omens, but he wants to keep some samples of his grandmother’s stitches. His greatest charm is saving leaves from the trees in the places he visits and where he is very happy, reminding him that the magic is there.