Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Interview to Violet Fane, haunting our dreams

When we think of Violet Fane we automatically enter a state of nostalgia and reverie, as if we were opening an old trunk in a dusty attic where fairies live and in whose corners whispers of ghosts are heard. Its creator, Magda, is a big fan of horror stories and vintage fashion, a passion that comes from a young age when she was not yet wearing Lolita clothing but was fascinated by history and Victorian garments.

I've known Magda for many years now, and she's been always this curious girl full of great ideas and not afraid to jump out of her comfort zone. Her creativity is immense and I believe that this can be reflected in her designs, full of little details, from the prints to the jewellery, all made meticulously with care and affection.
In this interview Magda explains a little about her, her professional career with Violet Fane and about the world devised for her brand, where through unusual prints she allows us to delve into the most mysterious side of Lolita fashion.

Welcome to the world of Violet Fane.

When did you first become interested in Lolita fashion?

When I was 11 years old, I started to wear gothic fashion, quite popular in 2006/07. However, I was also a huge fan of history and historical clothing and I remember searching the internet for Victorian clothing and coming across photos of the Victorian Maiden brand. Soon after, I would see that these dresses had their proper aesthetic and within a few months, I discovered that there were lolitas in my city and I thoughtlessly signed up for some meetups.

♥  What do you consider your references in the fashion world? What or who inspired you most? 

I really liked Alexander McQueen's style. I decided that I was going to follow a path similar to his, I entered the artistic bachelor's degree with the intention of studying fashion, but just when I started it, in 2010, he committed suicide. That news made me think that, although we never know what goes on in people's minds, that path was not entirely healthy anyway. Also, the toxic environment of the art school where I was was quite disillusioned with this whole scene.

Back then my family wanted to invest their savings in opening some kind of small business, and my father, who has always been very creative, thought that the type of clothing I wore could be successful. This is how we opened the Madame Chocolat store, focused on alternative fashion in Barcelona. This allowed me not only to have contact with the clothes that I already liked but also to learn and know the most commercial part of a business. I focused on the store, on organizing events and conventions of alternative aesthetics, and on learning to sew and pattern through courses to one day be a designer, something I saw as an unrealizable dream.

At what point does the idea of creating your own brand come up?

While working at Madame Chocolat I learned what it meant to have your own clothing brand quite naturally, from the production of materials to details more related to marketing. Also, being in direct contact with the national and international brands and receiving their products made me learn unconsciously. There was a time when I felt that my favourite themes were very underrepresented in Lolita fashion, but I didn't start to boost anything about the brand until 2013 and it wasn't until 2015 that I really started publishing my products.

Where did you learn to pattern and design? How was not studying at the Fashion Design School?

I studied Dressmaking, Pattern design and Millinery at L’Escola de la Dona. It is a good school to learn the trade without pretence. On the other hand, Fashion-type studies here in Spain don't prepare you to start a project, but rather to work for a multinational company making 200 designs of t-shirts a week, at least this is the impression of many of my colleagues.

However, if I could go back I would have liked to know more marketing and accounting, since sometimes the will and common sense are not enough, and having a brand is learning everything from scraps. When you have a problem or you need something you learn about it in strict direct, with the anxiety that implies. I admit that some studies would have prepared me a little more, but building a brand gives you the ability to face your vulnerability, to deal with anxiety and to rectify over and over again until you become tough and strong.

Where does the inspiration to create your pieces come from? Is there an influence that is present in all your designs and is the base of your creative pyramid? 

I admit that I am not going to be profound when answering this, but my greatest sources of inspiration are cinema and happiness. I am tired of the hatred for the cinema against, for example, literature. Cinema and fashion have a lot to do, and not only because there is Costume Design inside a film, but also because a film is a capsule of aesthetics and a microworld of colours, light and textures ... It is also a vision of facing a specific posture bearing life, and although with a book we can feel all that and much more, the experience is always personal, unique and different in each person; while with a movie, you offer a vision of that microworld in images. In the end, empathy is what makes us unite in specific aesthetics and fashions.

Happiness is more abstract and personal. Many of my ideas come out when I am aware that something is making me happy. Series like The Charming town is pure condensed happiness: being in a small town, having a coffee and saying: Ho! life has very beautiful things. I think that if I'm happy with something, more people have to be happy with that too. And the funny thing is that despite being day to day working on it and with all the problems that that entails, I do not abhor those issues or stop making me happy. Fantasy has saved me from thousands of demons and helped me to make it through hard times. Putting that personal escape route in a dress makes me be connected with the reasons that keep me sane and happy.

 How is the process of conceiving a Violet Fane garment like, from the initial sketch to the final result?

Different every time! Sometimes I see the design very clear and I prepare everything in a couple of months, but the most common situation is that the ideas are waiting for many factors to match: having the technique or the ideal material to be able to make them, having a gap in which to fit between re-release of some previous print and productions for events, also that the design makes sense on the scene at that time... So the usual time from an idea to reality is 1 or 2 years, something that the general public does not see or appreciate from a brand. The market goes very fast, and if you neglect, designs similar to yours may appear, although I dedicate myself to a very specific sub-style and I'm not overwhelmed if that happens.

And what about the fulfilment of a print, how is that process? Do you prefer to create digital prints or do you prefer to draw it yourself? What brings you more joy?

To draw! Although I usually do a mixture of both, and it also depends on the idea. There are some designs that need a photo for what they are, such as Saint Etienne Orphelinat or Memento Mori; I think that without a photo they didn't give that feeling of a cabinet full of disturbing photos with a mysterious past. But in others, such as Vampire Hunter, A Cult from the Sea or The Charming Town, either I was looking for the warmth of something handmade or there were no digital resources to create what I had in mind. In some cases, as in Asylum, the medical material that appears is photos are from my personal collection and the findings of
medical antiquities from some colleagues. In the case of The Funeral or Haunted Mansion there are dozens of photos of flowers and wooden boards, to create the entire stage until it is harmonious, so sometimes doing it with a photo can be as or more difficult than by hand since you have to fit everything very well so that it doesn't look like a PowerPoint presentation and the micro-world that I have in mind begins to appear.

 Sustainability is an important point nowadays in the fashion world, do you consider Violet Fane a sustainable brand? What would you like to achieve to make it even more sustainable?

This is something I have meditated a lot on. I think that yes, because of its small scale and because people can wear the clothes I design for many years, but there are always things to improve on. Violet Fane is produced in Spain in fair trade. Due to the closeness of all the parts of the process, we are able to make the blank fabric travel from the supplier to the stamper and from the stamper to the workshop without adding new plastic, and then the workshop delivers the garments on reusable hangers, without any plastic packaging. I think if it were manufactured in another country that would be completely impossible. In addition, this year we were able to implement a project that a tree is planted for each shipment and we can also send it to customers without plastic.

However, in many other aspects, we depend on third-party companies. For printing, we will always be in a diatribe between polyester and cotton, since it is a complicated process and in Spain, there is not much investment in machinery for printing decent cotton. A dress with the characteristics of lolita patterns, made of 100% cotton, printed in full colour, produced in Spain in fair trade and having a very small infrastructure, would possibly cost around € 250-350. If my brand is currently relatively popular and every time I place a new pre-order I risk whether it will be a success or not, opening such production is something that could lead me to closure due to its high cost and low public willingness to pay so much. In addition, having a double production line for whoever wants one thing or another is economically unfeasible.
To this, we must add the fact that companies in Spain don't supply local cotton, so if we had to get it outside, everything ecological on one side would go on the other. The cotton printing and production process consumes huge amounts of water and requires a very large trial and error due to the properties of the fabric. Contrary to what people think, current regular cotton tends to last less than good polyester, since quality cotton is what was used to be made in the 70s*. 

Polyester does not have to be shiny and we always use breathable fabrics. It has a very bad press because in Lolita we associate it with brands that use the cheapest or are not breathable, and we also associate it with those brands that, despite having the infrastructure in their country to print cotton, have moved to polyester to lower costs. But nowadays polyester is so well researched that there are incredible varieties that last many more years without shrinking, wrinkling or fading. 

And if we have found pleasant, breathable, moderately economical polyester for the public that does not wrinkle and lasts for many years, what is the problem with polyester? The microplastics it releases. That is the only non-ecological thing of the entire brand and for this, we always recommend the use of special bags for the washing machine that collect these microplastics, Guppyfriend. Since the 80s almost everything has plastics and it's more useful for the environment that we use it well and give it a long life than throwing away all our polyester clothes and buying a lot of cotton at once. Any massive consumption action like this would only cause thousands of aeroplanes for deliveries and water displacements in factories, so the best we can do is extend the life of what we have to the maximum and stop supporting companies based on the human and natural exploitation of the poor countries.

In summary, we believe that the mix of buying few clothes that you wear for a long time, avoiding buying in multinationals, using vintage/second-hand clothes and taking care of your clothes by washing them in short programs, with water as cold as possible and using a Guppyfriend is the best and more sustainable.

What has been your favourite creation or project so far?

My favourite project has not yet seen the light, but soon it will and I hope it will blow your minds! From the older prints,  I really like Saint Etienne Orphelinat

How was the adventure of creating a print with Peppermint Fox?

An incredible experience, which has resulted in giving me two good friends. It was wonderful to see that we understood each other so well and that our drawings seemed to have been done by one person, but the truth is that they were done in distance, without ever having seen us in real life! I made the furniture and the organization of the print, Thali the elements inside the cabinet, and everything matched so well... It was unbelievable!

Do you have any future collaborations in sight?

Not in the near future because the Covid-19 has placed daze in the upcoming months, but I would love to do more collaborations.

 And last question, what can you tell us about the future of the brand?

Due to the Covid-19, the events have remained in the air, but I have A LOT of news and things to do in the workshop, and I can only tell you that in a couple of months I will release a print totally out of my comfort zone.

Thank you so much, Magda, for taking your time in answering all these questions! It was a pleasure to have this inspiring interview with you! I hope we can see each other soon again!


* Nowadays there is good and durable cotton in production, but big retail companies and brands get their hands first on it, so little companies like Violet Fane have difficulties to get good, sustainable and durable cotton.

All photos are used under the permission of Violet Fane


  1. I really feel that Violet Fane has found a niche that no-one else fits - and by now they are so well established in that, that the similar new release would have to be from another well-known brand to affect them. And at the same time I love how every new series Magda makes is different and offers something new. I'm not much for the darker, more gothic themes, but I fell in love with Charming Town as soon as it was previewed. It completely won me over when it arrived and I realised that the lining was printed too, which I don't know any other company to do that. So hopefully this soon-to-be-announced print that will blow our minds will fit into my likes. And if not - there are always tights and jewellery! I really regret not getting more of Violet Fane's tights, they are the most comfortable and well made ones that I own ToT

    1. I can't help but recommend everyone to try their tights! Such great quality and amazing designs! My favourite brand for these accessories, for sure!
      I am also really interested to see what's that new print about, so curious!

  2. 10/10

    Es una entrevista muy guay y bueno Magda la mejón!


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