LOOK OF THE TIMES: “I still have all those sequins all over my place,” said Paris-based designer Arturo Obegero as he watched Harry Styles stride forward in his creations, a red top and matching trousers, in the freshly released music video for “As It Was, ” the lead single of the British artist’s new album.
Although he’d been expecting the reveal since he started working on these designs in late 2021, he still found being part of Styles’ latest work to be “mind-blowing, a great experience and, ultimately, a privilege” — especially as a young designer.
“The fact that Harry Styles and [his stylist] Harry Lambert both believed in me, supported me, not just with exposure but by buying the clothes, is insane. They could have gone to so many big brands but they believed in a young designer struggling with a 70-year-old sewing machine in a five-square-meters corner of my place,” said the designer, who considers the British artist “the Mick Jagger of our generation.”
Obegero, 28, who describes himself as “a young Spanish designer who launched a Parisian label a week before [France’s March 2020] COVID-19 lockdown,” hails from Tapia de Casariego, a town in the country’s northern region of Asturias.
As a teenager, he watched fashion shows on YouTube — Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga and Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy — as a form of escapism from his countryside town. Dancing gave him the awareness that costumes are intrinsically connected to building a character to go on stage, but he took receiving a book on Yves Saint Laurent for his interest in fashion to solidify.
After studying pattern-making and confection at Escuela Superior de Diseño y Moda Goymar, a technical school in northwestern Spain, Obegero headed to London and Central Saint Martins. After graduating in 2018, he arrived in Paris for a first experience at Lanvin before making the jump to working solo as the pandemic hit Europe.
Working from home led him to use materials he had on hand, a practice that he felt natural and continued even when businesses reopened. This approach culminated in using old theater curtains for his fall 2021 debut on the Paris Fashion Week calendar.
The designer, who is sold at e-tailer Ssense and independent retailers like Paris-based Elevator, noted that while 95 percent of his clients were male, he ultimately was designing “for someone who is not afraid of [turning] their vulnerability and sensitivity into one of their main strengths,” playing with the codes of formfitting and almost second-skin outfits of flamenco dancers and matadors.
“It’s all about the lines of the body. That’s one of the reasons [Styles and his team] called me—they were really about the body. There’s no big volumes, no ruffles, nothing extravagant,” he added.
He worked on the assumption that Styles would be performing in the clothes — live or in front of a camera — so he angled toward making something that was as comfortable for movement as it is eye-catching.
With that in mind, he reworked his signature silhouette of high-waisted trousers and a structured sleeveless top for Styles, adding “a little bit of pizzaz using sequins panels graphically cut to catch and reflect the light. It’s the disco, joyful part of the looks.”
Although the process took place through Zoom calls and exchanged images, he most enjoyed the sensation of a balance between his design vision and the artistic one of Styles — and the very principle of a creative dialogue leading to a bespoke design.
Obegero is gearing up for a busy year: He’s applied for the ANDAM fashion award and is mulling a bridal offering. And though he started it on a high note, he’s not letting the experience go to his head.
“Harry Styles was definitely in my top five people that I wanted to dress. But it’s also a double-edged sword for young designers, where it can seem that you only count or are relevant if you dress celebrities. There is much more to learn about style, creation and the art of fashion [in these experiences] than just the connection to a famous person,” he said.