Colorful, charismatic and cheerful
If you don’t know fashion designer Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada, you’ll soon wonder why you’re not familiar with her eye-popping, colorful and relentlessly cheering designs: they’re hard to miss. A household name in Spain, Ágatha’s innovative brand also extends to ceramics, toys, shoes, linens and towels, make-up and, more—even cars.
Born in Madrid to a famous architect and a Catalan aristocrat—making her a Spanish noble— Ágatha began honing her skills in fashion design at the Escuela de Artes y Técnicas de la Moda, Barcelona’s School of Fashion Arts and Techniques. At the age of 20 she began working as an intern at fashion designer Pepe Rubio’s studio, and it wasn’t long before she presented her first collection at the Local Design Centre in Madrid in 1981. Soon after she also exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Madrid, and from there her reputation in original, distinctive designs began to spread.
In the 1980s, the Movida Madrileña counterculture movement was sweeping through Spain, characterized by freedom of expression and resistance to taboos that were imposed by the restrictive regime of the dictator Francisco Franco. New styles and outlets for creativity began to emerge across Spain, through music, photography, art and painting, graffiti, and fashion. Ágatha was one of the key figures in the movement, with her imaginative shapes, often modelled on food or everyday objects, breaking the mold of traditional fashion cuts.
As well as creative, Ágatha is also a savvy business woman. She was the first Spanish designer to create a global brand concept, which currently works with over 50 licensees. She has her own chain of shops, and sells her products in department stores in 140 countries.
Here we take a look at some of her most vivacious designs:
Skirt from Agatha's personal collection, by Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada for Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada 2002
This skirt, made of polyester and polystyrene balls lined with lurex, is from Agatha's personal collection. In November 2002 she wore it to a dinner in honor of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany at the Royal Palace in Madrid.
Umbrella, Spring-Summer 2014, by Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada for Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada
Returning to a tradition forged in her earlier days of youthful rebellion, Ágatha's Spring-Summer 2014 season included a collection of hand-painted garments. This ensured that each piece is one-of-a-kind, impossible to be reproduced exactly the same more than once. The collection was presented at the Pasarela Cibeles in Madrid.
Chester Heart, Fall-Winter 2013-14, by Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada for Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada
For the Fall-Winter 2013-14 season, Ágatha combined some of her most recognizable silhouettes—balloon dresses, dinosaurs, roosters, books, hoops— with the classic icons of the brand: flowers, stars and hearts. The entire collection was unified by the use of velvet, one of the designer's most commonly used fabrics for its unique ability to amplify color.
Menina, Fall-Winter 2009-10, Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada for Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada
Agatha's Fall-Winter 2009-10 collection, presented at Milan Fashion Week, was dedicated to surrealist painters such as Méret Oppenheim, Chirico, Magritte, ManRay, Dalí, and Tristan Tzara. This Menina dress, made of silk with grosgrain ribbons, foam and polyurethane, is part of the Tribute to the Surrealism collection.
Baby walker, Fall-Winter 2009-10, by Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada for Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada
This dress, made of padded polyurethane, is also part of the Tribute to the Surrealism collection.
Menina, Spring-summer 2009, by Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada for Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada
Ágatha's Spring-Summer 2009 collection at Milan Fashion Week was inspired by La Maninas, a painting by the Spanish Golden Age painter Velázquez. This dress, made of silk and polyurethane, was part of that collection.
Ball dress, 1994, by Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada for Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada
Made of hand-painted silk and PVC tubes, this dress was presented on Agatha's first fashion show, a collection of 150 original dresses presented during Paris Fashion Week in October 1994, at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.
Tray dress, 1994, by Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada for Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada
This dress is another from her first fashion show and is made of moiré, foam cardbord and grosgrain ribbons.
Tray of flowers dress, 1998, by Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada for Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada
Made of hand-painted silk, foam cardbox and fabric flowers (originally natural flowers), this dress comes from the Canarias, paraíso de las flores collection. In December 1998 at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, Ágatha presented a collection of 60 ephemeral dresses made with natural flowers and plants from the Canary Islands, planted for the occasion by the famous Parisian florist Christian Tortu.