Exuberant nature and precious work
Martha Medeiros is a passionate fashion designer that made handlace an essential material. She developed and improved her creative process through the years, since childhood in Alagoas – a state in Brazil Northeast. Back in the 60’s, she was encouraged by her grandmother to observe nature as a reference and a source of inspiration: “Look at the colors on the cliffs by the sea, from brown to terracota and orange. That’s fashion”, said while teaching her how to sew dresses for her dolls. She looked, listened and learned.
Later on she managed to add sensibility to colors, shapes and textures as well as a “good nose” for business with an entrepreneurial spirit plus a talent to deal well with people. Before transforming her name to a fashion brand, she lead a prolific carreer in retail with Maison M. a shop that was a big success in Maceió, the capital of Alagoas, back in the 80’s and through the 90’s.
When she became the designer for her own label, Ms. Medeiros accessed her longtime love affair with handmade lace – the traditional Brazilian handcraft produced mostly by poor women in the Northeast of Brazil – making it the main material for elaborate dresses and evening gowns. Brazilian “Renascença” lace – made exclusively for her by a group of more than 450 women artisans from tiny and distant villages – mixed with luxury materials, some the same used by parisian maisons de couture, gave the Martha Medeiros brand its uniqueness.
Martha maintains a close relationship with these lacemakers through the “Olhar do Sertão” Project , from the Institute Martha Medeiros. Her relationship with them is divided into two distinct parts: the professional, through paid work and goals which allows them to increase their financial gain according to productivity. The other is the social care in several áreas like education, health and financial independent.
Thanks to the great demand of the brand for handmade lace, Martha rescued this tradition that was destined to end and today these women see their lives transformed by the art of making lace.
Martha arrived in São Paulo in 2009, with the opening of an exclusive boutique in the area of Jardins. Not much later her lace dresses could be seen at Bergodorf Goodman in New York, at Harrods in London and as part of a large lace exhibition in Calais – France. They began as well to be exported to numerous clients in America, U.K. and Middle East .
Now, besides ready to wear pieces, evening gowns and wedding dresses – a speciality of the brand with an entire atelier dedicated to their production which opened in São Paulo last year – Martha Medeiros also designs a line of home wear created exclusively for wedding parties, decorated with lace thread motifs.
According to the designer, lace is the most refined Brazilian handcraft, made by women artisans who keep this precious ancestral knowledge in their very hands. “That’s true Brazilian luxury”, she declares.
Soft and feminine, lace is never far from the surface of women’s fashions. Lace production first boomed in Europe during the 1700s. Handcrafted needle-made lace was not only a labor-intensive effort, but also involved high amounts of personal skill and a personal touch by the artisan. That’s what makes it unique – laces threads are always different, like a signature. Some periods of history have been more lace obsessed than others, but its tradition as a cultural handicraft force made it fascinating and desirable through generations.
Other than appearing precious, lace expresses subtlety, femininity and is able to tell its own story! Both traditional and modern, demure and sexy, girlish and womanly. It’s no wonder it exists in wedding dress, an evening gown and lingerie. It is available in white, black and all colour shades and variations. Its possibilities are as simple as endless.
So the hand made process present in all Martha Medeiros brand’s areas is extremely detailed and requires a lot of work. The time necessary to make lace is of great relevance for each piece to be unique and tells its own story. A single wedding dress made of “Renascença” lace could take a whole year of collective work. The final result is truly precious far beyond any frill or trend.
“It is truly about a life story and, by income, we realize dreams. We believe the future has an antique heart.”