Emerging designer Carmen Hidalgo launched her debut collection for her brand MYNOK in November 2020. The brand campaign launched with a very specific message in mind, in supporting the LGBTQ community.
Rooted in strong appreciation and support for the community, Hidalgo has curated each season’s campaign to feature only trans and non-binary models. To highlight emerging queer talent and creativity. We sit down with the designer to discuss her sources of inspiration and the future of the fashion landscape.
The name MYNOK, is a beautiful tribute to your late brother, how is his spirit and presence felt in the collections and brand?
I don’t think this brand would exist if it wasn’t for him. I studied fashion and created MYNOK because I needed to use my life for something meaningful that would bring meaning to my life and his, after he passed away. This brand started after years of feeling that I needed to put all this love and complex emotions into a project that could bring honesty to myself and that others could relate to.
How has the creative process allowed you to work through emotions of loss and grief?
It’s been a very complicated process where I’ve been feeling so many emotions for months and even years. Experiencing this type of grief and loss has opened a new vision to me, it has amplified my emotions and has made me more analytical. Grieving is a very solitary journey and unconsciously I started to create a language that allowed me to connect with others, so I would say that MYNOK as a creative process has allowed me enormously to work towards beginning understanding these emotions.
Why is the LGBTQ+ community a strong source of inspiration for you as a designer and creative?
I’m very influenced by emotions and philosophical concepts. As a result I’m expressing myself and I can not avoid feeling very related to this community because we share the same purpose, honesty within ourselves through a complex process towards the world. I find that for example grief and loss are very present for some people in this community, understanding it not as losing another person but a part of themselves, a relationship…At the same time, not everything has to be that serious and I love the trash culture, John Waters and Andrew Logan are a part of my personal heaven.
Do you think fashion has a responsibility in today’s climate to reflect and speak about social issues?
I don’t think that everything artistic has the responsibility of speaking about something in specific, that would destroy the freedom that is needed for creating with honesty. I believe in freedom, even though I might disagree with how the world is organised at the moment. If I think about fashion from a business perspective things are different. I do believe that any economic system has to be responsible, reflect the current society and increase the opportunities in a more equitable way. I’m afraid that at the moment equity and equality are not taking the important space that they should. CEOs and directors are not willing to lose any benefits, they follow a pyramidal structure and until this changes things will not truly reflect the social issues.
What are the positives that you have found when casting diverse and queer models, how does this elevate your vision?
I have found that diverse and queer models elevate and enrich my vision to another level. I could never reflect the society and future that I would like to experience without them. For me there’s no other way of doing fashion, how could I urge you to be honest with yourself and express your emotions if I’m not working with models that have created their own realities and identities from scratch.
Do you think the future of fashion should take a genderless approach?
I think that the best part of belonging to the fashion industry is the absolute variety that it has, and if the whole industry would take a genderless approach that variety, freedom, would be lost. I believe that the gender roles as we understand at the moment will change for good eventually and that will bring more honesty to everyone, but still some people will identify themselves on the current genders that we experience right now. I do believe that in time, identities will be more fluid in general and fashion will be a key tool in this.
How have the British and Italian landscapes inspired the craftsmanship of your collections?
I mainly find the inspiration in the emotional rather than in the physical world, of course it doesn’t mean that I do not appreciate the amazing British countryside, it is absolutely gorgeous and I always imagined myself renting a house for a few weeks and work from there, changing my surroundings to something this idyllic would be very interesting, in the UK I found the freedom that I never experienced before. When I moved to this country I understood that self expression at its highest is a positive quality and well accepted. Seeing people living under their own rules reassured me that just with that sincerity I knew I could create MYNOK. With Italy the relationship is different, I see the landscapes from a historic perspective. I can not dissociate the strong art history of this country and what I perceived every time that I visited it. In every corner you can find a small church, ruins and from my perspective, the culture of the country always leads to this past. This is a very extensive subject, but all this art condensed in a territory has created a very strong sense of beauty, in philosophical terms. I might turn to romanticise the past and appreciate what this is still bringing.
How would you describe yourself as a creative?
I would say that everyone has the inner pulse of being creative, it is intrinsic to humanity but some people develop this pulse to something bigger. I love beauty and my only goal is to understand what this means so I can connect and create a space with other humans that are looking for their freedom too, so I would say, yes, I have a creative way of thinking, I don’t think that having that purpose could be followed without a strong dose of creativity.
When did you first fall in love with fashion?
This is very interesting, I started studying Fine Arts because in Spain fashion is not understood as a part of the culture, even when I was studying, fashion wasn’t a degree. Because of this, I never imagined that my love for fashion could be relevant or have the same importance as arts, for example. After a few years in Fine Arts my brother died and because of this I forced myself to slow down and think what I needed to do or be from the most honest perspective, so I could survive, and fashion was my only desire. I felt that Alexander McQueen was using this medium for the same reasons that I needed and that’s how I started. Now, years later I learnt a few things about myself and fashion was always there. My earliest memories are about my clothes and how I felt about them and their impact on others around me. It was the easiest and most powerful language for me as a kid, I was very shy and I could connect with the world as I wanted and in an indirect way that made me feel safe.
What is in store for the future of MYNOK?
I would love to grow and create a bigger community, to generate more opportunities for diversity and create a business that could make a positive impact. We are working on being a 100% sustainable business and that’s one of our biggest goals, how to innovate in this aspect. At the same time we will keep being a part of the LFW calendar and hopefully collaborate with interesting like minded people that can discover us new ways of doing fashion that could evoke new scenarios. Personally I would love to be more involved in music and technology.