IN CONVERSATION WITH BLANCA PADILLA
Blanca Padilla is one of the best known Spanish models internationally. She has worked with Dolce & Gabanna, Balmain, Carolina Herrera, Chanel, Dior, Armani, Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta and Versace among others. In addition to her work as a model, Blanca has decided to go one step further and launch a collection with Ecoalf where she approaches the world of fashion from a new perspective, of a designer.
Blanca, you started your career in 2014 when you signed with Next Models Management. How do you look back on your modeling beginnings?
A lot has changed since. I feel like I have grown into myself more and more. There is not much left from that 18-year old who moved to NYC without having a clue of what she was doing, yet she is still here with me and her essence prevails and always will. Truth is I have been through many experiences and situations that helped my evolution and to understand myself a bit more, and have met people along the way who have aligned so beautifully with that same path and we have helped and inspired each other to continue our journeys of personal growth and development of our careers, trying to balance those aspects out and everything in between. The journey continues and I am forever grateful to a career path that has triggered so many key points in my life and for all women in general in our society, as well as many personal moral trigger that have helped me shape my focus and interests and therefore shape my reality and filter the relationships in my life, question my priorities and the way I live. I just feel like I continue to shape all of those things and the more I do, the more aligned and at peace I feel. That is my ultimate goal.
What made you passionate about fashion? Why did you want to become a model?
I actually didn’t know about fashion at all, I was completly foreign to it. It was through years of working in it that I started to understand and get to know the different roles, processes, people. I was approached by a complete stranger while on a regular subway ride with my boyfriend at the time and he promised me a brilliant future, but obviously that sounded like nonsense to me back then. We stayed in contact as he was working in a strong Spanish agency at the time, although it took me a while to start a conversation about it and start to believe in his words and proposal. Little by little, we started rolling and out of the sudden I was in New York the following year and started a whole new life and career there.
One of your first jobs was for the Italian brand Dolce & Gabanna? What did working with such a renown brand in the beginning of your career mean to you and for your career?
It was all a learning process and absolutely new to me. I remember doing the looks for the brand and witnessing the creation process of Stefano and Domenico, to afterwards walking the show. I was also very lucky some of my best friends up until today were there with me and we got to share the experience. There were long days, not going to lie, and especially not being used to working in fashion, but with them everything felt much lighter and the creative aspect of it and the Italian alta moda world was fascinating to us. It definitely meant an amazing kickstart to it all. I did the campaign shortly after, as well as walking their shows, followed by others during fashion week. I remember one of my very first Couture shows were Elie Saab and Valentino in Paris and everything felt new and exciting, but also unknown and surreal.
Which cover, fashion show or campaign that you’ve worked do you count as the biggest accomplishment of your career so far?
I would say, for the experience of it, my biggest accomplishment was working alongside the Givenchy beauty team as their beauty ambassador for 3 consecutive years. That was such a great partnership and experience, we got to do amazing shoots, got to travel to Japan together. I will always look back and remember that with such warmth and nostalgia because I was still a ‘baby’, yet I was starting to evolve on so many levels and I feel like they really treated me with such love and care.
Besides this, there are many shows I feel were special to walk in and some incredible photographers, directors, designers, team members, stylists, colleagues and souls that have touched me ever since I started, and that human touch is what stays with me.
You’ve been recognized by the fashion world internationally. How did it feel when your career expanded outside of Spain, into international waters?
I honestly don’t remember it as one day being one thing, the next day transforming into another. There wasn’t a big gap or differentiating line between both worlds, they kind of collided into one another I guess. And it happened very quickly, but also very organically. It was the path things were supposed to take in that very moment and I am grateful for that. I believe my years in New York and all of the time traveling alone for work, the many fashion weeks when I was young and so on have been a huge piece on my personal evolvement and the evolution of my career as a model as well.
I did very little in Spain before moving overseas, just a few national fashion shows pretty much and it all happened in the blink of an eye. I was actually studying at University in Madrid, where I am from, and I had to drop that, move to a different one that would offer me online studies and move to NY. It all started with some trips there, where I would stay in the model apartment. But within just a week or two, we knew that I would have to be fully based in New York City and that’s what we did as things were taking a positive turn rather fast. In this profession you cannot really wait around for the right moment or the moment that fits you. There is a moment in time and if you want it, you must take it. And I feel like the lightness and flexibility of the youth at that time really helped to not think about it too much, to just let life happen and for that path to continue.
What are some of the thing still on your ‘bucket list’ that you want to achieve in the fashion world, as a model?
I would love to have my own business and for it to be a passion funded one. I do believe that we have gifts for the world and we must connect to that to reach our biggest potential and fulfill our light. As a model, I would love to continue being a voice for those things I believe in, as well as partnering with brands whose ethos align with mine, be more involved in different creative processes, continue traveling the world and seeing new places, taking it all in. I love to be part of creative projects that really move and excite me. And stay connected to high fashion and to interesting characters as well, people that can add to my life and fuel that creative internal world of possibilities. There is so much left to do.
You have decided to launch a collection with Ecoalf. How did this collaboration come about? What inspired this collection?
I knew the team as we had done a previous collection of basics that worked really well and I was very happy with. I feel like it wasn’t that easy to find your go-to basic sustainable pieces that you could wear over and over, with high quality materials, which are most respectful for the environment and with a very clear mission, to be the essentials in your wardrobe, the pieces that always work and you can layer up and mix, those that you always need and that never feel outdated. After the first one, I wanted to do a second one of basics with a twist, a bit more elevated pieces, introducing linen. The collection was inspired by the many different elements from nature, by the fact that we are one with nature and that one cannot exist without the other. I was very happy to accomplish several points that were crucial to me, such as proximity or materials like Lyocell or Cupro. I also loved the tones we achieved through 100 % natural dying.
Now that you’ve experienced this new perspective, of a designer, is this something you would like to explore further in the future?
It was obviously a very slight approach as I did basic pieces in this case, wanting to fulfill the demand of the customer of truly the best essentials of their wardrobes. But I have always had that creative side in me regarding a concept, shapes and patterns, and got many ideas in mind. My mind is working all day, which is sometimes not so good. So, I don’t discard the idea.
What are you most passionate about in life, besides fashion and modeling?
I have a great passion for the world of well-being, mental health and the natural elements. I am currently studying a year of health coaching, specifically focused on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda. I feel inclined towards everything that has to do with human connection and relationships, everything that the wonderful nature offers us, nutrition, personal growth, sustainability and the problems present in our world, whether they are climatic and environmental or on social level, and of course in fashion.
In a profession that demands a lot on a physical and psychological level, I have learned that connecting with my inner world and my spirituality is really what helps me. As I am on that path, I find it interesting to share that message and potentially help others to do the same. I try for my social media to be a reflection of what inspires me, what gives me peace, what makes me feel good, information that I consider relevant or that has helped or impacted me in some way, sustainability, mental health (anxiety disorders, connecting with oneself, mindfulness world), also based on my own experience, and fashion.
What would be your biggest advice to young girls trying to establish their careers in fashion?
If you want to achieve more, don’t listen to the noise, focus on the work on yourself. Remember that others or any external source don’t define your value. And also, trust your instinct. If you feel something isn’t right, it’s because it isn’t. The more work we do on our own beings, the more we can attract the right things into our life and everything sort of starts falling into place. There is no finish line, but it is important to put the focus inwards and not outside of us, especially in a world like this.
interview by JANA LETONJA @janaletonja
earring OSB VINTAGE
shoes BY FAR
Talent: Blanca Padilla @blancapadilla @thelabtalents
Photographer: JuanKR @juankr_
Stylist: Caterina Ospina @cateoniwiki
Makeup: Raquel Alvarez @raquelalvarezdiaz_ @one__offartists
Hair: Jesus de Paula @jesusdepaula @cool_producciones
Styling assistant: Ruben Cortes & María José Ballesteros @ruwithoutpaul @meriibn
Production: Room Service 039 @roomservice039
Video: Javier Román @javieroman__
Editor: Timi Letonja @timiletonja
Cover design: Arthur Roeloffzen @arthurroeloffzen