After a brief, two-week hiatus involving Easter and lots of chocolate, what better way to return than to spend some time with a very talented person, Paco Peralta. Easy-going yet animated, with firm convictions and bucket-loads of anecdotes, Sir Peralta is an entertaining conversationalist. I spent the morning in his small workshop, which is located in his apartment, and the time just flew by as the rain fell softly outside the windows.
Paco Peralta emanates, radiates calm and charm and these two qualities are evident in his work. He defines himself as a dressmaker, a tailor of old-school elegance. What is known here in Spain as a modisto. He has a gathering of fans and clients, faithful to his precise work, yet not all that much information is available. I was able to quiz him and find out some crucial details.
Born in Huesca, Paco Peralta moved to Barcelona when he was around the age of 24. He soon enrolled at the Institut Catala de la Moda, where he studied pattern and fashion design. Having been passionately attracted to drawing from a very early age, Paco quickly became bored with the learning process and was itching to get started on his own work. Before the course was completed, he set up shop and became a freelance pattern-cutter. He gradually worked his way into creating made-to-measure clothes, mostly by trial and error.
This is where Paco Peralta’s talent is overwhelming. Much of his knowledge springs directly from pure logic. Careful calculations made in advance means that he practically manages to avoid situations where is has to apply a hasty solution to a garment. With a mathematical precision, each garment is run through the haute couture system: draw and cut the pattern, the confection of a “toile“, and personal fittings. He has managed to simplify this system to achieve his best personal results. When a garment resists him and the process comes to a standstill, Paco refuses to insist and keep tweaking. The process must flow.
Peralta has run up garments commissioned for advertising in the past and even went to London in 1995 to help out his cousin, Lionel Peralta, who at the time was studying at Central Saint Martins. He helped to sew Lionel’s final collection before graduation and it was in that precise year that Stella McCartney was also finishing. There is even a photo of Lionel and Stella together in class!
Peralta is inspired by original work by Paco Rabanne or Geoffrey Beene, those space-age, futuristic elements and boxy lines. Clean, simple silhouettes are evident in all of his pieces, each and every detail is exquisite, from linings to hems, buttons to trimmings. Each garment is understated elegance, accompanied by that perfect weightiness that is only present in extremely well-made clothes. Curiously enough, he is fascinated by original Yves Saint Laurent, to the point where he is painstakingly collecting any patterns that he can get his hands on.
More than willing to share the secrets of his talents, Paco offers his patterns for sale on Etsy. While others jealously guard their tricks up their sleeve, this Spanish tailor gives the best of himself for others to enjoy. He says that he is in a strange profession and there are many different styles of approaching work. No one method is right or wrong. In his case, Paco is very visual and doesn’t like to leave things to chance. Yet at the same time, he is not a control-freak.
One of his pet peeves are trends that are presented as something new when said trends are just reworked versions of styles from the past. Although it’s difficult, Paco does believe that it is possible to create new styles and trends. Items that awaken a curiosity in him to find out how they have been put together. He cites Hussein Chalayan as a great master of innovative talent.
The rain continues to fall and it is now time for lunch. I leave. I feel full and satisfied. Paco Peralta is an astonishing character and I wish him all the best in his work.
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