Over a year after launching a flagship store in Mexico City, fashion designer Paola Hernandez has unveiled a showroom at the crux of Brooklyn’s north and south Williamsburg neighborhoods. Aesthetically minimal and arranged for the maximum impact of her clothing and accessory designs, the space offers an opportunity for buyers to get up close with Hernandez’s philosophically inspired works. Born in Mexico City and based in Brooklyn, Hernandez began as a philosophy student, but would shift to fashion at Central St Martins in London before completing studies in shoe design at ARS Sutoria in Milan. It’s that varied, thoughtful background that infuses her collections with an air of something truly unique.
After extensive time abroad, and a return home to live and work in Mexico, Hernandez ultimately headed north. She has been designing now for seven years, four of those from her base in NYC. She moved into the new space in October this year, which functions as both a storefront and studio space, and where she can often be found using the large central table to make patterns or take measurements. But for production, Hernandez utilizes her native country and manufactures her clothing and shoes in Mexico. “I wanted this brand to be the whole world,” she shares with CH, “and that’s why I moved to New York.”
“Before I studied fashion I studied philosophy, and more than just my studies, I feel that my personal search has been philosophical in general. It was always based on the question of ‘What’s my purpose?’ I realized that my purpose has to do with creation and that I wanted to create a type of expression that’s more subtle—where people can make their own interpretations,” she observes. It led to an intellectual pursuit of art and often, extensive reading. “I feel like art can have a more subtle way of expressing ideas, where it leaves space open for interpretations. “Even after you have finished your idea, it’s always still expressing itself because it depends on how people decide to wear it, or style it. One same piece that I thought of can look so different, even in the same person’s closet, as opposed to at one event or another. It’s always transforming.”
With this in mind, each season Hernandez begins with a concept. “I feel like information comes to me, more than I search for it. As information comes in, I realize my theme. I had one season when the concept was about how to find a state of peace within ourselves. I was reading a book that talked on meditation. They called the desired state a blue pearl. I wanted my collection to be about achieving that state.” The theme informed everything from her color selection and the balance of light and shadows, to the specific stitching employed throughout.
“The idea for my spring collection, where I used Michael’s painting [Hernandez’s husband, fine artist Michael Kagan] was about how when you open a door a new world opens with it. I saw Michael’s painting at his show. It was a cockpit. I thought this is the perfect example of what you need to get another world,” she continues. Hernandez made a knitted interpretation of it, her first foray into prints—because she left like the theme required her to explore her offerings. In transforming an aesthetic source, her brand grew.
Hernandez believes her ideal consumers are creative people, because of a belief in a sense of connection. She loves to talk with those who purchase her clothes and share ideas. But the core message of her brand is best conveyed in her logo. “It’s two hearts representing duality. That’s reality to me: duality. But in the center, they form a third heart representing unity. It’s a search for unity in duality. This isn’t meditation on a mountain. This is here. This is pressing. Consciousness flows within a very organic way.” And whether it’s her new store, or her exciting designs, there is a meditative quality and certainly a nice flow.
Images courtesy of Paola Hernandez