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Carlota Barrera

Menswear Designer
London College of Fashion
Person Type
Carlota  Barrera


Carlota is a MA Fashion Design Technology: Menswear graduate, who was nominated by the course to meet Head of Talent at Louis Vuitton; here she tells us about her final collection and experience at LCF.


Can you tell us about your collection?

It is a dialogue between the purpose of beauty in the matador’s costume and the practicality of fishermen’s clothing.

One of the aims of this collection was to review and reinterpret the matador costume. Its artisanal and handmade techniques bestow a certain femininity on the man that, contradictorily, makes his masculinity increase. In opposition to the femininity of matador’s garments, fishermen’s attire is carefully designed according to the practical principle ‘form follows function’ in order to protect the fisherman from natural phenomena.

With both men, and all the comparisons and the alleged masculinity in both worlds, it was interesting to take advantage of the homoerotic component of matador’s costume to talk about the collection as a love story between the matador and the fisherman.

Where did you study prior to the MA at LCF?

I studied my Foundation course in Central Saint Martins and my BA Fashion at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Madrid, where I specialised in Haute Couture and Tailoring.

What themes do you explore in your work and this collection?

The key motivation was to create a collection that combined classical bullfighting tailoring techniques with a different outline and visual approach, and to consolidate the universes of the bullfighter and the fisherman, setting them against the background of the contemporary man.

It all started by trying to understand why such a terrible spectacle as bullfighting was called ‘art’. What was it exactly that caused such fanaticism, adoration and such a sense of fulfilment. After completing the collection and following, step by step, the creation of extremely delicate garments that due to the embellishments they seem to ‘dance’ with the reflected lights, despite the cruelty of it all, it is undeniable that the matador costumes are a unique visual spectacle and an ode to beauty.

Describe your work in five words...

Romantic, erotic, masculine, tailored, elegant.

Reflecting back on your MA, and thinking about prospective students, what would be your top three pieces of advice for them?

I can’t insist enough on the importance of project management, and this is even tougher when having external collaborators. It seems like a long course with loads of time, but once the production starts it never seems enough time and everything needs to be planned to the last detail.

Be humble and accept criticism and advice from the industry experts and tutors, but always keep in mind what you really want to do and work for it. Balance is key.

What have been the most enjoyable and interesting parts of your course? And what have you found the most challenging?

Each and every stage of the course was enjoyable but not without its challenges. I particularly enjoyed the initial phase when I had to do the deep and extensive research and turn that into a collection. It all started with the bullfighting encyclopaedia named “El Cossio”, Goya’s popular scenes and painters that portrayed the Spanish ‘costumbrismo’ movement, such as Ignacio Zuloaga and Joaquín Sorolla. From there, I sought to understand how men behaved in the sea with Jacques Cousteau and the films documenting his underwater world research; diving into old archives with 30's and 40’s beach and pool photography portraying lifeguards and swimmers; Jacques Henri Lartigue's romantic photographs of swimmers; the imagery of the soviet ballet dancers such as Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

What was perhaps the most challenging aspect was managing the collaborations and the production in the studio. One of the principal aims of the collection was to enhance the beauty of craftsmanship whilst contributing to keeping this precious form of production alive, therefore I relied on Spanish creative artisans for various collaborations. I wanted to make sure that every piece was well executed and had the best quality, so we sourced the materials (embroidery embellishments from France, leather from Italy, rattan from Spain) and brought them to the ateliers in Spain, and all those pieces were then shipped to London for the final production. Adjusting the schedules and timings both within the boundaries of the studio and in the collaborators' ateliers in Spain was challenging. It was a long tough apprenticeship, constantly learning from errors and mistakes, and celebrating the victories both in visual and constructive outcomes.

You've been nominated, along with four other students, to meet with Head of Talent at Louis Vuitton. How does this feel?

I'm extremely honoured, and thankful for the tutors that believe in my work, giving me such a wonderful opportunity. Louis Vuitton is an iconic house with a long history and although it's changing now with Kim Jones leaving I'm excited for what comes next, and it would be an invaluable experience to be part of that next step.

What are your future plans and how do you think the course will help you to realise these plans?

I want to learn more while applying all I learnt through the MA. My dream is to have my own label someday, but I would need a good plan to meet the quality I want to achieve; design is nothing without good quality. Also, there are many talented people and houses I want to work with before then. For the moment, I would like to stay in London and work for a house as a menswear designer, but I wouldn't say 'no' to a job in Paris. It's a beautiful city and a really good place for menswear nowadays.