a cura di Alessandro Martinelli

We retrace the story of one of the most famous Spanish designers, who has gone through ups and downs during his career but has represented a third way in the fashion of the eighties and nineties, Alternatively the conceptual minimalism of Japanese fashion and the "femme fatale" of French fashion.

Portrait of fashion designer Sybilla Sorondo

Sybilla Sorondo Myelzwynska was born in New York in 1963 Argentinean diplomat father and Polish mother, of fashion designer known as the Countess Sybilla of Saks Fifth Avenue 2. Successivamente, he moved to Madrid with his father, dove, still very young, start creating costumes, based on what they see in stores. A 17 anni, he left for Paris, and spent a year in the laboratory of haute couture Yves Saint Laurent. His first big success came in 1981, just 18 anni.

video Collection of parades by Sybilla 1983 al 1985

During his first parade to the pavilion of Jacobo Siruela, in 1983 He amazes his audience by the originality of the 40 models presented: It is a semi-private fashion show, where it highlights a personal style and captivating. The collection is a challenge to the power of the feminine style woman, then in vogue. They wrap pieces, separable, that caress the body in the colors of nature and are made with materials found, almost always, market or vintage shops. This event attracts new customers that commissioned custom clothes atelier set up in his house and direct from its model-Carmen Andres. Despite this successful entry into the world of fashion,  in 1984 Sybilla says:

“I will not sell to stores,

I want to create unique pieces, transformable,

Economic and custom … “

 Invitata da Juan Antonio Comín, He decides to remove the Salón Gaudí in Barcelona: on the occasion of this first professional show, will form the team of associates who will work with her for many years.

“Working in the basement of my house with my seamstresses "fairy godmothers"

and Friends "volunteers" who come at night.”

He designs with her friend Gema, for the entrepreneur of Elche Rafa Boix, a pair of shoe collections that are presented successfully to the fairs of Milan and New York under the brand and Sybilla Gema. Attempted by the possibility of working with more economic means, signing with producer Alberto Guardione a license agreement: that's how it starts, industrial production of clothing collections and their distribution nationwide. It is the birth of the brand Sybilla.

Sybilla Collection Fall / Winter 1986-87 presented in Milan Collections

The creations produced by Guardione are presented in exhibitions in Milan and Paris, They are received the first orders from major foreign clients (“Biffi”, “Bergdorf Goodman “,” Victory “) and flattering comments appearing in the Spanish press, enthusiastic and loyal, that consecrated as ” great promise “. Sybilla presents collections of great success in the Cibeles catwalk for a growing number of followers. The honeycomb giant, effetto the sham, overlays, the heads modeled by internal wires, embroidery, beads, the dramatic colors, the eccentric accessories and exciting music become trademarks of his fashion shows.

A creation of Sybilla 1987

"In the French fashion of the second half of the '80s, on one side we had a very androgynous trend (eg, Comme des Garçons) and the other the main performers were Mugler and Montana. The style of Sybilla was soft, femminile, in a sense naive, ultrapersonale. His world did not remember anything of what I knew ",  ricorda Alexandre de Betak,  founder of Bureau Betak, which she has taken its first steps working, still not yet twenty student, with designer Madrid.

In October 1986 he opened the Madrid boutique in an old garage of a dirt alley, the current and the famous Callejon de Jorge Juan. Sybilla meets photographers Vallhonrat Javier and Juan Gatti: the trio will produce in the years following memorable advertising images. Nel 1987 José María Juncabella, President di Industries Bures, Sybilla offers the possibility of launching an underwear line, During the years, will become a must.

The growing appreciation of Sybilla in the international press arouses the interest of the family Zuccoli, owner of the factory Gibo, which manufactures and produces ready-to-wear the star of the moment, Jean Paul Gaultier. The Zuccoli propose a new license, fashion shows in Milan, the best Italian fabrics … The big jump. At that time, his fashion shows in Milan are crowded events and customers throng the showroom in Milan: divided into four sections, each with his music,  De Betak describe what it calls the "history of Sybilla girl cooking, working, He comes out and gets married. Very narrative, Full Almodóvar style. ". The collaboration with Alexandre adds show, humor and charm to the ethereal world of Sybilla.

Collections Sybilla A / 1988/89 – P / E 1989 – A/I 1989/90

His then catalogs are magnificent: Sybilla enchants with his talent and his name began to appear in magazines such as French Vogue, The Face, The New Yorker, Vogue Italy, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Lei, I-D …

ADV AI collection 1988/89. Photo by Javier Vallhonrat

The year's highest recognition of his work is the 1988: just 25 he received the "Golden Needle of Dreams" and the prestigious Balenciaga, created by the promotion of fashion from the Ministry Center which aims to promote the expansion and prestige of Spanish fashion. Nel 1989, signing a contract with Itokin, the clothing giant Japanese. Immediately after Milan Collections, the collection "Winter Airport" is presented in Tokyo, Sybilla in a parade that serves as a parody of his lifestyle of that time: constant travel, feverish activity, photo shoots, interviews and short rest periods. Sybilla exploits the theatrical offerings from the catwalk resources, music, hairdos and, soprattutto, by a casting for models and actresses friends turned into a spontaneous theatrical staging full of emotions and humor. Tuttavia, conceive and give a show like this is exhausting, especially if you do it every six months.

Collections Sybilla PE 1989 (sinistra) e AI 1989/90 (destra)

In Japan, It develops a line of cosmetics for Shiseido . Fernando Ciai began producing beautiful knitwear collections that surprise everyone. Sybilla does not stop for two years and the first signs of exhaustion: The brilliant success has flooded his life of commitments and responsibilities. Sybil begins to consider to abandon the parades and to present its collections in an alternative way. It presents the Collezione "Good and bad sua (Good and evil)" in Milan, Tokyo e New York.

Collections Sybilla P / E 1990- A/I 1990/91- ES Theater A / I 1991/92

: Images of Collection EP 1991. Foto: Rinaldi-Severini

These creations represent a significant change in his career: encouraged by the quantity and quality of the facilities offered by the Italian, his style became more complex and begins to use more and more precious materials .

The Moonbat Japanese manufacturer is launching a visionary collection of umbrellas while, to Majorca, Farrutx produces amazing shoes and bags. Nel 1991 Paris opens a temporary store and wonderful with a parade that will be the last of his career: an incredible theatrical performance, a collection that is a focus of creative energy. The parade is just one of the attractions of the show that is staged: There are also jugglers, games, orchestra …the French daily Libération, the following review: “The Spaniards give a lesson on how to organize a party in Paris”

The world of accessories Sybilla – Three Sybilla clothes, created between 1988 and the 1990, donated by the Foundation Vogue Paris at the Palais Galliera.

A few months after opening the store in Tokyo: only the Japanese can turn into a mass phenomenon, a fashion brand, come Sybilla, He has always swum against the tide and that, despite its resounding success, commercially merely a public certainly elitist with high purchasing power. In Japan, Sybilla has a less intellectual style, more accessible and cheaper: It is the effect of a difficult process of mutual adaptation and a long series of engagements with the team of technicians of production, fashion consultants and directors with whom each designer must fight in every collection. The result is a commercial bomb again and that persists, thanks to a generous regular flow of yen, It allows her to desert the world of European fashion, that seems too sclerotic, artificial and hostile. La mostra The world according to its creators It opens at the Palais Galliera in Paris, to which participates Sybilla with Vivienne Westwood, Gaultier, Romeo Gigli, Martin Margiela e Jean Charles de Castelbajac.

Nel 1992, Sybilla becomes pregnant with her first child, Lucas:  convinced that it will be impossible to reconcile his hectic professional life with motherhood, He decides to terminate its contracts with Italians industrial and devote himself exclusively to his collections for Japan, where they begin to be sold new lines of accessories: watches, ties, tissues … The bags are in boom in sales for years. The Japanese miracle is already a fact.

Nel 1993, the first signature collection for Japan. The line was created in a spirit of irresistible joy that is felt not only in clothing or accessories, but also in the decoration of the first 15 shops. Stephane Sednaoui attenuates the optimistic style with disturbing advertising campaigns. Sybilla is fully employed in providing a powerful personality Jocomomola. His goal is to get as far away as possible from the mother brand. Later, the rigidity of the Japanese market force you to soften the anarchic mix of shapes, models and techniques of knitting that prevails in the first collections. Jocomomola is also produced in Spain and, from 2001, It opens a fun store in Madrid, near the shop Sybilla.

Nel 1994, after choosing a crossroad, Sybilla realized sees one of itsdreams, and in Japan. Her clothes sell themselves, no interviews, no parades, Scam or advertising campaigns. Sybilla will not be a “great designer”, nor a fashion star, much less a public figure. He just wants to make clothes. The splendor of the fashion world has blinded for a short time. Participates in Gypsy modes with a dress inspired by the famous pack of cigarettes.

Nel 1995, Blanca Li, a choreographer of Granada who lives in Paris and is also a friend, Sybilla order to the customs of an ambitious show that it is preparing on the legend of Salomé. Sybil carries a mix of local music-hall costumes very essential knitwear and dresses "sound" very impressive that, During the choreography, participate in the creation of music. That same year, He presents his first collection of wedding dresses, which it is another of the lines of work for success of the house. In summer born the son Bruno, which is completely dedicated Sybilla.

Nel 1996, Louis Vuitton, working on the renovation of its image, commissioned Sybilla and other designers design a bag that uses the classic logo, which is celebrated the centenary. Sybilla builds a backpack with a built-called umbrella “Shopping in the rain”. The first candles designer Sybilla appear on the market, produced by Catalan Cerabella Cerabella, including candle “Chandelier” which quickly becomes popular.

Backpack umbrella created for the centenary of Louis Vuitton in 1996 – The dress España

Il 1996 it is also the year when he designed the famous suit España:  a gown in black silk crepe, which underlines and enhances the woman's body, with a round neckline at the chest and the back, no sleeves but straps. It presents a fall reinforced by a lining of the same fabric of the suit, It is up to the ground and ends up in a small tail in the back. The line dress, in line with the prevailing minimalism in the mid-90s, It is sober and refined. The originality of its design is focused on his face, more specifically on the bust, made of rounded shapes and rounded, combined with invisible nylon wires, that form a sort of mosaic borderless, eliminating all that is superfluous, Also the seams.

The design that forms the collage reflected in these forms stereotypes that characterize the Spanish culture, like the bull, the sun and the Latin cross that symbolizes the importance of religion. Sybilla not only takes up the idea of ​​"The Little Black Dress", black dress, very popular in the fashion world thanks to Chanel, but also it connects with the purest tradition of the black in clothing Spanish.

ADV line “Sybilla Night” (1997)

Nel 1997 It produces a line of party dresses: Sybilla night. Nel 1998 licenses signed in Spain to distribute carpet lines, candles, decorative objects in silver, bed sheets, towels, bathrobes, hydraulic tiles …

ADV Sybilla S 2001/02

In 2000, private presentations of Sybilla line noche in Paris collect a new resounding success. Sybilla it continues to create : in 2003 signing a contract with the company Pier, young Venetian manufacturers and unconventional. Again he sells designer in Milan and opens a store and Sybilla Jocomomola in China: the brand continues to triumph. Il 2003 it is also the year that celebrates its Sybilla 20 years of profession, with a brilliant retrospective exhibition in Barcelona. The catalog chants a slogan “winds it's nothing … and happy is the look”.

ADV Sybilla OR 2002 with Shamil Boscono

In the same spirit, He continues to work and plan from his home in Mallorca.Engaged in their ideals and disseminating the values ​​that you think should prevail in the world, such as respect for the environment, sustainability and effects – sometimes harmful – globalization. Sybilla is true to its philosophy and prefers to stay out of the great currents of fame alienating media. Nel 2005, Sybilla decided to distance himself from the company she founded and then return after ten years of absence in 2015 , recovering the ownership of the trademark, previously sold to Martin and Miguel Salis Varsavaky, founder of Jazztel .

“Fashion is in my blood, almost addictive: I had to do it again”he said during a presentation of his spring collection in Paris.

Sybilla A/I 2015/16

During his hiatus 10 anni, Sybilla has been anything but idle, dedicating themselves to a wide range of projects, the organization of seminars on sustainable design and social responsibility at his home in the mountains of the Sierra de Tramuntana in Majorca to work as president of Fabric for Freedom , a foundation that promotes the production of fabrics made with raw materials from agricultural cooperatives, social and craft. All this good work is translated in an environmentally sustainable way, creating a fashion for real women: “I want to give them confidence and strength, a feeling of natural beauty, the effortless ease. The clothes must be worn with love, excitement and pride “, he said.

Sybilla P / E 2016

His trademark is still a liquid and fluid style, the line that caresses the hips, which enhances the roundness of the shoulders, stretching the décolleté neckline with attractive design. The clothes are cut to hide or reveal a gentle but seductive sensuality. They are also clothes "belly-friendly", cut to divert attention from that point the notoriously not so perfect female body. “My shapes are round, based on the circle. They can turn to protect or expose. Women are warriors, and I want to give them armor that can be lightweight and strong at the same time!” . Sybilla hoped that sales and, soprattutto, some big investor would have accompanied her to take off and again become a reference, in the last four years the market has rowed against,  with debts that have accumulated and only to sales in Japan, from which it comes 60% of its annual turnover. The rest comes mainly from marketing licenses. The last Christmas has been dramatic in PROESA-Sybilla laboratory, It located in the Carabanchel district of Madrid. A big Spanish group had decided to take the reins of Sybilla and finally to strengthen the project, but the deal has faded the last moment: was a shock to Sybilla, who must decide whether to declare bankruptcy and close or survive a few months in exchange for a drastic reduction in costs, including the payment of payroll.

“Workers love Sybilla, his story is very beautiful and there are employees who are with her for more than 20 anni, why the bear and continue to lean on his shoulder”, says a former worker. The failed agreement came at the worst time, just when Sybilla had to repay the loan that Itokin, its Japanese partner, He had done in 2014 to help her to take off. In particular, 1,2 million to be repaid in January. Sybil could not solve the problems alone and since then has accumulated the debt in Itokin “royalties”, strangling even more the brand's revenue, that today, Japanese market and licenses excluded, It is reduced to measure suits (bride and night) and eco-sustainable cashmere production in Mongolia. Nel frattempo, the company must continue to pay 200.000 euro a year to its creditors. An example of the times that the brand is experiencing was the opening party of his own store in Madrid, early last December. The event was more like a village festival,  with beer and music provided for free by Sybilla friends, that the red-carpet classic that the big fashion usually organize. The entire district of Chueca has learned, in the middle of the street party, that Sybil was back. Although the agreement with a Luxembourg fund is safe , based on a five-year plan based on a bridge loan,  to clear the debt with the Treasury and makes the company able to make orders to suppliers, to produce again and to open five new stores in Spain, both belief that sheer necessity, Sybilla says that even if this alliance will be truncated, she will throw in the towel.

“If the business project will not go ahead, I will have to quit and do other things. Many close to me would be happy to see me work less, but it would be sad, because many flock enthusiasm and all their effort into this project”.

Al contrario, if finally the wheel will turn, making room for new investors and new collections, its prestige, despite difficulties, will remain high. In reality, Sybilla has never stopped receiving awards in the four years of the Cross. Nel 2015 He won the National Award for Fashion Design, awarded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport; only a year before, that ministry had awarded the Gold Medal of Merit in Fine Arts. Recentemente, the designer has received the medal of Barcelona to support the Design and Arts (FAD) 2018, and the Community of Madrid has also awarded its latest Culture Prize in the fashion category.Who will live, will see.