3913 | Editorial
An interview with Portuguese fashion designer, Beatriz Arrojado. Delve into the curious world she has created that highlights past romanticism with a twist of gothic elements.
By: NICOLETA APPERTI
The numbers “3913” ring a bell: can you hear it? Maybe it’s a familiar sound, or maybe it’s a whistle that resides somewhere yonder in the unknown. Regardless, it inherently triggers a reaction. A reaction, whether big or small, is a kind of genesis in the mind, a feeling similar to discovering a coincidence that’s been under your nose for quite some time, or a secret that you aren’t entirely supposed to know. This is what Beatriz Arrojado’s art feels like, and this is essentially what she portrays to the world.
Born in a small village in the north of Portugal, a career in the arts was always slightly tugging Arrojado’s hair. From a young age, a curious mind led her to delve into the artistic world with her own mold for success and inspiration. Her assurance in her art is something that’s visible in the work itself. Her work is like a slight reminiscent dream of 1987 Margiela, with hints of McQueen and Arrojado’s own Portuguese flare to spark the mix. These designers, along with Ann Demeulemeester, are a few of Arrojado’s personal favorites, a fact evident in what she creates. Something we do as a society that Arrojado reflects upon is the use of inspiration as a device towards a new formulation. We use our atmosphere, the places we surround ourselves with, as part of our own personal mold. This mold is constantly consuming information as we grow, and it discovers new niches for us to surround ourselves with, thus—unbeknownst to us— providing the tools to create.
Arrojado lived out her childhood through the art of storytelling, in that her work was created to support a storyline. It wasn’t until her adolescence that discovering the work of McQueen and Galliano initiated a newfound desire: fashion.
“They presented authentic sculptural and architectural works. These creators, among others, spoke not only of fashion but of art. And that fascinated me,” stated Arrojado.
This led to her initial start at Soares des Reis Art School, where she studied artistic direction. Consumed by the artistry in many forms as a young girl, she never denied that she would work and live in this industry. After her studies at Soares des Reis, Arrojado attended Modatex University to decipher her interest in fashion design. With her studies and devoted attention to art, cinema, and music, she found her own understanding of what fashion is to her.
Arrojado explains, “Fashion is a form of communication – the final product is the ability to pass a message. A simple thought or idea that becomes something palpable and dimensional. The ability to unite people.”
This idea of unity was never foreign to Arrojado. At a young age, her illustrations were based on stories and tales, commencing her desire to unite everything visually. She’s not wrong in the sense that we live through stories, our own personal fantasies fueled by our mind, every day. Making these fantasies come to life is where the difficulty lies. Arrojado manages to accomplish this, finding a niche and traveling with it.
Childhood is very prominent in one’s perspective of the world, and Arrojado’s small village life contrasted completely with her attendance at multiple fashion universities. This leads to a question: how did these experiences unite her work? How exactly did her art influence her in reaching outside the realms of a small village, where simple things are sprouted in ambiguity, and complexity is found in dark ditches and creepy hallows? The places one doesn’t want to look and normally avoid come to be the areas lurking with creative material.
“Fashion is a form of communication – the final product is the ability to pass a message. A simple thought or idea that becomes something palpable and dimensional. The ability to unite people.”
Arrojado’s mind is very much like one of these corners. Calm and patient, she lurks in her own passive nature, meticulously creating clothing, poetry, or visual arts. Her work creates a sort of hymn, whether it be in the incisions in the bodice of her clothing or the muted inflections of color. The hymn mimics that of a siren: desirable and alluring, yet unheard of and untouched, like a folk tale of haunted minds. This is not to say that all of her work stems from a gothic mindset; it is a gentle sound, a melancholic hymn leaning towards a sensible beauty that reaches towards the light. As a period piece in the 21st century, Arrojado’s work is a way to go back in time, while making a mockery of society’s flourished trends.
Arrojado is often found experimenting with time as a concept, living simultaneously in the past, present, and future. To be accepting of all and trusting is what ultimately influences her state of mind on fashion.
“It’s fleeting,” she says, “But sometimes it becomes timeless, and thus is more than simply a garment. It becomes fundamental.” Fundamental. A word that stresses the importance, even in such small influxes in time and space. Arrojado emphasizes that her work is fluid with time, the past somehow is sewn into the present and future. As a creator, she constantly needs to focus on what is happening in the context of the future. She does this without veering away from the truth in society’s current reality. Her effort in this endeavor is displayed impeccably, and her small notions of femininity creep towards the boundary of gender fluidity. In a society so bustling with ideas and creations, Arrojado still stands firm in her universal mindset, a belief in the inclusion of all time and all space.
Fond of broken hearts and melancholy as a whole, her ethos touches base with aspects of raw truth. There is a romance in sadness, and Arrojado’s garments and illustrations reflect this. This theory is bound in a story, but to call her a mere storyteller would simply diminish the effect of her work. She is not yet a visionary, but a working one. At 26, she’s waiting for the expressive helm of her creations to come to fruition. It paints a charming aesthetic, to regard such pieces of art drowned in Arrojado’s own personal mystique.
Now to address the true question: beauty. The term so often used to describe such minimal subjects and fundamental moments. The question found lurking in the mind: how do we define it? Is beauty universal? The topic is troubling, despite the common usage of the term in the human vocabulary. It’s almost concerning how easily it slips out of the mouth, as if anything worthy of being described as beautiful completely evades the concept.
For Arrojado, beauty is the very seam of her work. The fabrication of her clothes consists of tiny details infused with enigmatic power. Muted greys and pristine form evoke a certain air of refinement. The tulle details evoke a prominent sense of self-awareness and control, whereas the deep V-neck alludes to a more sensual side of femininity. Everything Arrojado creates revolves around the image of a woman. She adheres to the most feminine qualities while contending with masculine traits in strong seams and the cuts of the garments. There is a certain chasm between her use of modern refinement and articulated camp.
The ways in which Arrojado ties all this together are where the real magic lies. Beneath her trademark, “3913,” is a young woman with a pristine thought process who has paved her own road, infused with traditional gothic wear drawn from old folk tales and modern architectural shapes and molds. Despite her recent break with fashion design, Arrojado’s focus on illustration continues to embody this disposition. As “3913” is another stone etched in confinement, Arrojado’s nostalgic touch is alluring, and one can’t help but be drawn in. Is it merely her mystique, or is it her wistful sketches and elegiac designs that instigate a beguiling effect? Who knows. It seems only Beatriz Arrojado can sit with this knowledge, and as tormenting as it is for us, this is all part of her allure.
Portrait shot by Ricardo Alvez for The Khollected Magazine. "The modern architectural construction of her dresses breathes new light into a time past."
Image shot by Ricardo Alvez
Image shot by Ricardo Alvez
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