Launched in 2012, followed by the opening of its own boutique in Palermo in March 2013, Blackmamba is fast becoming one of Buenos Aires’ most sought-after fashion brands. But what truly distinguishes this Porteña brand from the rest is their craft with leather, owing to 27-year-old Creative Director, Bianca Siconolfi. She honed her talent while studying Design at Universidad de Palermo and continued on to work for some of Argentina’s most elite fashion houses. Influenced by concepts of ‘magic’, Blackmamba boldly blurs the line of gender in a delectable fusion of monochrome, 90s minimal, with references to the paranormal. It’s ‘The Craft’ but cleaned up, with a Scandinavian flare, Argentina’s answer to Alexander Wang. Their aim is to transcend the concept of a ‘Fashion Season’, to create timeless pieces in exquisite fabrics and textures with the perfect fit. So it was no surprise that their Spring/Summer13 Collection delivered just that and more.
BAFWeek saw Blackmamba shake things up with an eerie presentation of their new collection at Braga Menendez gallery in Hollywood. Set with a large white crucifix and graveyard benches, the space appeared to be prepared for a religious ceremony. The show, aptly named ‘Ceremonial’, kicked off to the ghostly sound of Clams Casino’s “Drowning” as the models slowly appeared wearing long, transparent veils and marched up to their numbered blocks to be presented like pieces of art. Then all at once, the collection was unveiled – literally. On one side, total pristine white and black on the other. In their classic approach, the collection was strong and cohesive, solidifying the identity of the brand. Evolving on from the previous collection, black was transformed into white with influences of hip hop, sportswear and street culture. We saw scarves knotted at the head, mesh gloves, oversized tops and jackets all in the finest array of leathers, wools and silk chiffon. Python and crocodile skin-effects gave a nod to the brand name and the jewellery pieces were enough to give Pamela Love a run for her money.
After the show, we caught up with Bianca Siconolfi to find out more about Blackmamba and the inspiration behind the new collection.
What was the inspiration behind the collection Ceremonial SS13/14?
In every collection I create, I first think about a story, a concept to start with. It can be a book, an artist, a practice, anything. This time it was ‘Tarot’, which took me to Aleister Crowley, an occultist, mystic, ceremonial magician whom I got fascinated with and started studying. There is a book he wrote called “Moonchild”, where he writes about a battle between white and black magicians. So, you can imagine how my mind got kind of high on inspiration.
You use a lot of beautiful leathers and references to the occult in your collections. What is it about leather and magic that inspires you so much?
Leather is beautiful to me because it takes me to places I’ve never been. It’s not like other materials, I feel like it holds ancient secrets waiting to be discovered, transformed and experimented with. Magic is everything, it is an art and a science based in practices and beliefs. You can never know too much about it and you can always learn more.
Your womenswear pieces often have an element of androgyny. What do you think about women’s dress sense in Buenos Aires and how is it changing amongst the genders?
I think that there are a lot of people in Buenos Aires who love to be different, sophisticated and like to break the fashion rules and trends. It is those types of people who love Blackmamba. Guys are getting more and more interested in how they dress as well as feeling comfortable in themselves rather than fitting in with societal norms, so that is why they start looking for brands that can give them options and quality.
What is the biggest difference in designing for men and women? Is there one?
The biggest difference is in the dimensions of the body, the muscles and bones. Although there are a lot of skinny boys who look for womenswear pieces, fundamentally it comes down to the shoulders and chest having a different structure. But there are pieces that can be shared between genders as girls are very into the loose, baggy, boyish-style pieces.
How did you begin your career as a designer? What were you doing before Blackmamba?
I started working for a fashion brand called Chocolate and then I worked for Maria Cher, both of which are well-established in the industry here, so I learnt a lot about fashion management and product development.
Your brand is high-end. Is it difficult to run a business in an unstable economy?
Of course it is a big challenge, every day we deal with a kind of battle that never ends but we love what we do so that’s what makes us keep going on and on to develop a better product.
How would you describe the culture of fashion in Buenos Aires?
In constant expectation.
Can we expect to see Blackmamba expand globally?
Yes of course, we have a lot of interested stores but we like to make each decision a solid and careful one.
If you could have a fashion show anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Mmmm, I think it would be the Tate Modern in London.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
I would be a marine biologist.
To snap up the new collection, visit Blackmamba’s beautiful abode in the heart of Palermo – Soler 4502 (Soler y Malabia). www.beblackmamba.com
By Oasis Correspondent Chrissie FoyleArgentina, Buenos Aires