It's cheaper than Paris!
People are friendly and laid back
Maco is a fashion designer from Peru who's lived in Montreuil since 2015.
If you've been to the "Artists Open Days" here in Montreuil you might have been to his workshop (which is also his house) to buy some of his designs directly from him.
Passionnate about his own cultural heritage, Maco uses wool from the Alpaca, the cute, docile, intelligent creature from the Andes mountains.
Their wool is one of the softest and silkiest in the world. The majority of his clothes are made with this luxurious fibre - ponchos, capes, sweaters, hats...
You can immediately recognise the quality and softness of this material as soon as you touch it, it's therefore no surprise why Maco loves it so much.
Born in the 70s near Lima, Maco is a very spiritual and endearing soul.
You can feel his deep attachment to his country - its heritage, its rituals and its culture.
Through his collections you also understand how he wants to reflect that culture back to us, promote the savoir-faire of his country, support Peruvian craftsmanship, practice ethical fashion and above all extol a slow-fashion attitude where quality comes before quantity.
Let's meet Maco and his"Haute Culture" collections
"I understood that in the Western World, fashion exists to dress the ego, whereas in my culture, it exists to dress a person's spirit.
That's the fashion I want to practice."
maco - the spirit of peru
Alpaca wool is more than 7000 years old.
- water resistant
- ultra silky
- very warm
When you spend time with Maco, you understand quickly that's he's both fascinated and passionate about his roots.
Every year from the age of 5 to 15, he would leave his big town during the school holidays (from December to March) to go and stay with his grandparents in the mountains at Pampa Guay.
After a 10-hour bus ride climbing up to an altitude of 5000m, he was always amazed at the radical change in behaviour of those with him when they would reach the top.
The bus driver would change the musique to traditional Andean music, his mother would take off her modern clothes and put on her traditional attire before arriving at her parents' house.
"It was then that I understood the importance of clothes, their power and their symbolism."
His grandparents were craftsmen, they made rugs from lama wool.
Maco would help them pick flowers for the dye, a child's touch being considered more delicate than that of an adult.
His grandfather was also a shaman and always did a ceremony on their arrival to protect them from the mountain, he also used to read their fortunes in the coca leaves
His grandmother used to sing them traditional songs in the Andean language Quechua (she did not speak Spanish).
Maco's Grandma in traditional garb (daily) in the mountains in Pampa Guay
(In Quechua that means Fields & Weavers and is so small you can't find it on Google Maps. the nearest town is San Pedro de Cajas)
He knows he's in another world, another universe, somewhere so different.
It was like a"fantasy" he says.
He feels he belongs to something extraordinary, a rich culture steeped heavily in history and tradition
Maco hasn't always worked in fashion, that only started at 26 when he was going through a huge introspective period.
Before this he worked in a bank after studying accountancy in university, but it didn't feel right.
Artistic from a young age (he once made himslef a jacket from a pair of curtains and took sculpture and painting lessons) he wanted to express himself creatively and decided to leave his job and go to Argentina to study fashion.
After 2 years he came back to Peru to do a further 2 years at the French fashion school Mod'Art which had just started courses in Lima.
His ideas came up against a lot of resistance in his own country. He wholeheartedly wanted to pursue the traditional Andean angle, highlightly the heritage of his country and ancestors but his fashion peers sneered and didn't believe in him. They would prefer to buy a Dior piece than a luxurious cape made from Alpaca. For them it wasn't luxury enough.
He dropped his ideas and worked in TV for 3 years (stylist for some cool, edgy programmes), made bespoke wedding and evening dresses and taught pattern cutting....but the desire to launch his own brand was still lurking.
In 2014 he decided to come to France to follow another course offered by Mod'Art "Create a luxury brand" and studied for a year in Perpignan. He came for the adventure but also beacuse as a boy he had read "Eugénie Grandet" by Balzac and was somewhat nostalgic.
Beautiful silk dress and Alpaga poncho at his December 2018 Fashion Show at the Peruvian Embassy in Paris
THE BIRTH OF HIS BRAND
Walking around dressed in his usual poncho and hat, Marco was stopped frequently in the street and people would often ask to take their photo with him and give him compliments, it was then that he knew...he had to create HIS brand.
He had the confirmation that style, his handmade artisanal designs and his Andean mountain culture could be accepted here, more so than in his own country.
8 months later the label MACO CALDERON was born in 2015.
"It's not a costume or a gimmick, I really do dress like this, in Alpaca, in a poncho...I feel great like this, it's really me and I love it!"
"Textu in latin means write/weave/entwine and for me, textile and fabrics are another way of writing,
a symbolic way of telling a story."
RUNA SINU - THE LANGUAGE OF HUMANITY
So in 2015 Maco is ready with his concept - la Haute Culture
Take inspiration from and modernise clothes from his grandparents' culture (the Andes mountains)
Use the noble wool of the Alpaga
Work directly with the local artisans in Peru (knits, weaves...)
Spread the word on his cultural heritage
Create an affordable luxury brand
Give all his clothes names from his grandparents' Quechua language (like Runa Sinu)
He knows every artisan that works for him and loves going to see them back in Peru, working and spending time with them, he pays them directly, cutting out the middle man.
Last time he spent a week with a group of women and took them out, taking them to the textile museum so they could learn more about their culture and history.
For Maco, fabrics are a way of writing a story, creating poetry. Every piece has a meaning and a sense.
The poncho, his signature piece, holds a strong symbolism in the Andean culture because when you pass your head through the hole, they say it is like the sun rising though the mountains (the mountains being the sleeves). When you wear the poncho it becomes the sun because it warms you up.
"In my culture, clothes tell a story. for example in the graphic design on a lot of fabrics you can see animals, lakes,
mountains...it's a 'thank you' to nature.
All this symbolism is really attractive to me, I still think 'wow that's incredible' "
Maco is continuing to develop his brand in a responsable way.
His last collection was called INTROSPECTION, because he believes we should all look a little further into how we consume and the effect on our planet.
His next collection for SS19 is called BIO LOGIC where he has used only organic cottons.
His "universe" is very clear, his message lucid and his collections always in line with his passion for his Peruvian heritage. When he talks of it, his eyes light up.
The cut and the fabrics are high quality, just like the graphic universe, he's created too- his videos, photos, lookbooks...
There is something very "LOGIC" and coherent in everything he does- his message works, we want to know more about where he's from, to dive into his culture, to see his mountains.
His collections are inspiring and his clothes send us off on a trip to Peru, up to Pampa Guay, far away, where they speak Quechua and the Alpacas freely roam the land.
"My fashion is human fashion.
All my creations are made with love. I love working with the local craftsmen and women, I love spreading the message
of my Andean culture to others.
Over there, they are so happy to know that their work is worn by people in Europe.
I want the people who buy my clothes to feel this good energy, that there's a story behind every piece.
Good energy for everyone: for me, for the artisans, and of course for my clients."