When a friend insists you have coffee with and rack the brain of Spanish beauty, and designer of the Ready-To-Wear label Cortana you just say yes. We can’t even count the reasons why but here are a few: she creates insanely stunning and minimal pieces that embody true female beauty, she has that bold sexiness saved for Latin women — and we’re hoping some might rub off, and finally she’s got some serious pearls of wisdom to share. We spent hours with Rosa Esteva hashing out clothes, sex, taboos, and even mind-altering states — because how could we not? Meet Rosa.
Vérité: So let’s talk about your line Cortana. What was the inspiration for starting your company?
Rosa Esteva: I’m just so inspired by women, and I feel like Cortana is like I’m in service to women. I just want them to feel very comfortable. Cortana doesn’t pretend to eclipse a woman’s personality. We believe what’s important is the person inside the dress, and the woman has to be seen. Sometimes you see the clothes but you don’t see her, so it’s good to know what looks the best on you.
V: Yes, and as a woman you can be dynamic, it’s always changing.
RE: Yeah, because we are all many women. A color can give you a vibration, can make you feel happier, can me you feel sexy. Fashion is transformative. It’s so much fun to be a woman huh?
V: I agree — and more so to be a woman that’s tapped into that.
RE: Yes, to have the freedom! We believe a lot in fabrics and cuts because we like very much the way you’re going to feel because this is the way you’re going to show yourself to the world, the way you’re going to reflect. It’s not how you look in the mirror, it’s how your energy will change. It’s not about the dress without you in it, it’s about you in the dress.
V: What was your background before you started your own label. Were you always in fashion?
RE: Yes, I started my own label when I was 25. I went to fashion school before I did art school.
V: What have been things that shape the way you design?
RE: For example, I knew that I had this talent all my life because I feel so comfortable making women dress. For me it’s like a game, it’s very natural, and I just want it have beauty around. It makes me so happy to create beauty, and to see how a woman blooms when they find the right thing. It happens and it’s magical. How I started, when I was about ten my mother came back from India with a saree — an eight meter piece of cloth, it’s nothing itself but for me it was so telling because I was in front of the mirror, and now that’s the way I design. I also draw so much but from a fabric I see a dress, and from a woman I see a dress. But this saree was very revealing because I could see the fabric itself, the fabric talks, it has it’s own personality. Whatever you think of at the end, it’s the fabric that takes you there. It’s going to tell you how to deal with it because it moves, it has a life of its own. No matter how you want to control it you have to let it go because it will find its way — you have to always be open to what’s coming.
V: I recently had the conversation with someone about how right now with everything going on in the world it can seem silly to create something that could be received as frivolous, but then I realized actually no, this is the time we need that kind of beauty in the world, we need that uplifting element. What do you think about this?
RE: We need beauty more than ever because beauty is love. It’s a way of loving. If you look beautiful and you love yourself you are better to people. We do it because of love.
V: So it’s more of a partnership between you and the fabric when you design?
RE: Me and many other things — for example the person who makes the patterns, the model who’s going to try it on, the way she moves. I always try the clothes on because I like to know how it feels. Even when I was pregnant I was trying them on. You have to feel it for yourself, see the color, see the cut. I think Cortana is to feel more than to see. We take lots of care of the interior almost more than the exterior because we believe the thing that is going to be in contact with your skin.
V: Do you think in the beginning you were the inspiration for all your pieces, just from a place of self love?
RE: It’s always like this, if you don’t love yourself you can’t love other people. I’m inspired by other women and myself, but I’m very very inspired also by dance. I love the way things move when you dance. And the bodies of dancers, I’m very much inspired.
V: I can see that in your designs in the way they flow. Do you think being a mother has taught you about being a woman?
RE: Being a woman definitely. I was a girl before, and I discovered I was a woman only after I had my daughter. What it changed for me was my way of working. I spend less time working and I’m more focused because I want to be with my daughter and do other things — but everything is part of the same process of being a designer. It’s like walking on the street or hiking — my life is my work.
V: When do you feel sexiest?
RE: Naked! Bikini is the best dress.
V: You think the way your clothing fits women also instills this? It breathes, it’s lightweight?
RE: Yes, yes, to be almost a second skin. Something that moves with the body in a natural way. It allows freedom, which for me is so important. When you’re naked you feel free and sometimes when you get dressed you don’t. With Cortana I would like people to experience that.
V: How did you get into bridal?
RE: I got into bridal because when I got married I made my own wedding dress. I thought it was a nice thing to share because at that moment I found I had my own vision of wedding dresses that are also making you feel very pretty because love is freedom also.
V: So, beauty is love and love is freedom?
RE: Yes, and it’s truth also — Vérité. Do you think that only the truth can be sexy?
V: I would have to think about that, what do you think?
RE: Sometimes no. Sometimes it’s better not to know the truth. Sometimes creativity can be very theatrical and be very fake. It’s stepping out of our reality, and can be very sexy. Sometimes fashion can be like this and it’s amazing also — it’s surprising and fresh. Fashion is supposed to surprise also.
*at this point in the interview we look over to see a girl across the coffee shop, arm erect in front of her shamelessly snapping selfies.*
RE: there’s no shame in America! But I love it. I love it because everyone can be themselves and no one is going to judge you.
V: Yes but to an extent, but then there’s still so many things that are taboo in America like nudity.
RE: Yes! I was in boarding school in Massachusetts when I was in high school and I remember wow they were so conservative about some things. I remember one day talking about masturbation and they were like no way. I was like what!?
V: Yes, and it’s still something that’s not talked about, it’s not a publicly discussed thing.
RE: That’s a pity no?
V: I think so, because then we’re not educating people as well.
RE: So you should be ashamed of menstruation but not…? (Rosa looks over at girl taking selfies and we have a good laugh).
V: This is a question we always ask, but is there a book that has changed your life?
RE: I think actually I change my life every second because no matter what input you receive things will change but you have to be open. Sometimes a book can be very revealing but sometimes a movie, sometimes a song, sometimes a conversation with a friend, mushrooms or iowaska. You just have to be open to the revelation. Even a sentence will stick with you. Every minute, it just depends on how open you are. Some people travel and travel and travel, and read, read, read and aren’t open.
V: Have you done iowaska?
RE: No, I’m not scared but now I feel like everyone is doing iowaska now.
V: Do you believe we make our own story or it’s fate?
RE: I think we make it.
V: Especially as women.
RE: Yes, as women we are creators. We don’t need to have children, we are naturally creators. We are in a very good moment as women. We can change many things because feminine energy is magical. It’s more subtle than masculine but more changing. But women right now we have aspects of masculinity that are helpful to really do things.