What does femininity mean to you? This question was our starting point for this series of interviews with female fashion designers worldwide in honour of International Women’s day. Celebrating our multicultural student community at Istituto Marangoni Firenze, these articles focus on new international brands headed by creative women. In this article, we interviewed the three founders of the Mexican brand Minena.
by Cecilia Vareman & Daniela Valle. Cover Image courtesy of Minena.
Minena is an experimental studio of ideas based on the collaboration of founders María José, María del Mar and María Gabriela, who brought together their studies in Fashion Design (María José and María Gabriela) and Communication (María del Mar). Some of their core values as a company is “to encourage creative freedom, value work, and ensure project quality.”
As the founders explain, Minena is a girl who lives inside each of us, representing our naivety and embracing the wisdom time has given her. She just wants to have fun and express herself unrestricted; she can be as playful as she likes. In a chaotic world, she managed to find a way to escape through fashion and embrace that inner child. She is not excusing herself in any way; no explanations are needed. Her femininity just is. “That is her philosophy: the natural development of the mind.”
I’MF: What does femininity mean to you?
M: For me (Maria Del Mar), femininity is like an element, a fire that starts when dreaming, believing, and imagining. A way of thinking beyond our limits. Imagination, dreams, creativity, impulsivity, beauty, birth, children, love and family. It’s an irrational side of life. Very abstract, in my opinion. At Minena, we compare it to a surrealist way of seeing things we do not understand or understand differently, like the Dalì landscapes.
I’MF: How do you bring femininity into your designs?
M: At Minena, we are inspired by our dreams when we sleep, that side of life that brings surreal things to the picture. We feel that it interacts with our creative process. It happened a lot in the beginning. When we share this dream, femininity becomes free, like a butterfly, a flower, whatever you can imagine it to be. That’s when we talk about dreams and reality, about femininity as a valuable quality in dreaming and masculinity as a quality in living. We sleep at the same time that we are awake. Important things happen when we are sleeping, as when we are living. Every day. At Minena, we bring these qualities together to make it real without losing its own mystery.
I’MF: What is the story behind your brand? What motivated you?
M: We weren’t looking for it, but it came to us like something we really needed to do. The three of us (Maria José, Gaby and Maria Del Mar) felt connected with what we were asking ourselves about what we hoped for a brand in Mexico City. First of all, we just started to talk about what we liked – movies, music, designers, authors, artists, artistic movements, quotes – and Minena’s identity was built by just sharing references of everything that felt inspiring. When things felt right and honest, we started making accessories; gradually, we became confident about this process that turned into the Minena world we can now share with our friends and customers.
I’MF: What other female designers inspire you?
M: Mary Quant started as an inspiration in our mood boards combined with the language in the fashion world of Franca Sozzani, the interpretation of camp that Susan Sontag wrote, Leandra Medine’s cute jokes, Ono’s shouts. We also feel very inspired by female designers right now. For example, Beate Karlson’s Avavav show was incredible, with the clothes peeling off and scratching away by themselves. These kinds of situations inspire us. Our time inspires us. Maybe because we are a little bit Dada.
“Minena is the girl I used to be. Amusing enough to forget her, free enough to stay a girl…. May reaching the exact place of your memories always be your purpose. You have stopped being a girl, but you are still Minena.”
María José, María del Mar & María Gabriela are the founders of Minena.
Cecilia Vareman is an undergraduate students in Arts Curating at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.
Daniela Valle is an undergraduate students in Fashion Business and Digital Marketing at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.