Bluemarble’s Carnival of Concepts
Anthony Alvarez is acutely aware of cultural exchanges. The French-Filipino designer spent his formative years in New York City and, in 2019, he launched Bluemarble, a label that draws on his personal experiences making them the focal point of his collections. For Fall Winter 2023, he embarked on another journey: a sojourn across the globe stretching from New Orleans to Venice – from the bombastic Mardi Gras to the ebullient celebration of the Venice Carnival. Amalgamated, the spirit of the two events casts a joyous spell over a riotous procession of eclectic colours, graphics, and silhouettes.
Alvarez, who won the Pierre Bergé prize at the 2022 ANDAM Fashion Awards, melded archetypes of American sportswear with noble European fabrics. Humble workwear jackets are hand-embroidered with decadent glass pearls, and merino wool knitwear (he is a finalist for the upcoming Woolmark Prize) features decorative accents that recall an elaborate psychedelic mask traditional to the Venetian carnival. Handcrafted elements are juxtaposed with technological innovations. Even if still prototypes, Bluemarble uses 3D printing to make sunglasses with outlandish shapes. Denim is finished using ozone treatment, which gives a used or worn-in aspect to jeans and has benefits for the environment.
“It comes from how I grew up in New York but then moving to France and having my Filipino heritage. It’s natural for me to bring this eclectic mix into the collection,” said Alvarez in a video call from Milan, where the collection was part of the Tomorrow Ltd showroom.
What would you like us to know about this collection?
We’re still a very young brand but with this collection I was able to use the mentorship and the learning from different experiences we’ve had from our first show on the official calendar, the prizes, and, most recently the Woolmark Prize nomination, which will be integrated in this collection. We will reveal five of six looks in this show. It’s a continuation of the perpetual voyage, the story I tell every season. This will take us on a journey between New Orleans and Venice. I found it so interesting to compare both cities and, more specifically, to ask questions around the Carnvial celebrations of Venice and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It’s very eclectic from the colours to the graphic inspirations and the shapes. What I love to do each season is find a way to unify all these inspirations.
How would you characterise your creative process?
When I start, it feels very personal. I trust my current state of mind, my emotions, but I love to collaborate with my team. We push these collections forward through exchanges. I believe a lot in human interactions. While I go to my memories, I also like to mix that with different conversations. That’s how we build each collection.
What moment marked a turning point for you as a designer?
Winning the Pierre Bergé Prize at the ANDAM Awards marked a true turning point for Bluemarble. The support and the recognition we have received from the fashion industry confirms that the Bluemarble vision is shared and celebrated.
Are you using any new technologies that contribute to the evolution of your collections?
Yes, Bluemarble is about mixing different techniques from machine embroidery to artisanal hand embroideries, and also using technological developments from the last few years. We have used 3D printing for our sunglasses for the last two seasons and it’s something that we’ll continue to use. I find it very interesting because we were able to print these waves, add little marbles, and create completely crazy shapes. That’s Bluemarble in a nutshell. It’s a melting pot of these different technologies, different eras, different inspirations.
Evolution is gradual; revolution is radical. Is fashion still capable of revolution?
Fashion proposes an alternative where norms can be reimagined and there aren’t any rules. It has a very important role in that sense.
How do you think you will evolve in the next 5 years?
I’m very excited [about the future] because everything is moving very fast. It’s hard to project yourself but we’ve had an amazing year. I still consider the brand to be young, but our evolution was very organic. What I want to focus on in the next few years is the human interactions I have and how I incorporate that into the brand and the design. Future conversations, the people I will meet, and the places I go will drive my curiosity and my collections.