Pirouette has long been an admirer of the creativity and storytelling of designer Alejandra Salvatore of Severina kids. So it was a real thrill when Alejandra accepted the invitation to design the new season’s Pirouette One to Watch Award. Hand knitted and embroidered, the ‘Spyglass’ is an inspired design and exactly what we are looking for…we chat with Alejandra to find out more about her design process, production and what core elements were important to the award… We love it and so will you!
Alejandra, could you tell us a little about your background and how your love for travelling and artisan craft developed? I’ve always loved crafting at home; my mother and my grandmother were passionate craftswomen and I grew up in a creative environment. I started my career as an architect then I decided to start a Masters degree in Fashion Design. The next 5 years were spent immersed in the world of fashion and accessories design, catwalks and shows. And then, my son Mateo was born.I really enjoyed designing his bedroom; I also made a small collection of toys and bed linen for him. After that, all happened naturally. And Severina Kids was born! Travelling and living abroad has also been part of my journey and has become an inspiration source for my design process.
The materials and yarns you use are selectively natural, why is this important to you and your label? I think that if many people make small gestures, all together we can make a big change. And a big change is needed nowadays. So I do what I can to be responsible towards the environment; I select natural materials, organic, recycled or eco-friendly fabrics. I try to recycle as much as I can, reusing old family clothes or fabric scraps from fashion designers.
Severina kids is an International label with yourself based in Saudi Arabia and the Severina products handmade by Argentinean artisans. How did you find your trusted producers? Plus, managing production remotely, how do you make it work? When we returned to Argentina after living 10 years in Madrid, I never thought that it will be just for two years. When we decided to live abroad again I initially freaked out. Then I understood that I needed to put together a “dream team” in Argentina to allow me to keep the brand alive. It had to be a team capable of fulfilling orders without having me checking each item’s quality and finish in person.
The first step was asking for additional support from my family, and learning to delegate more.My aunt in law leads my team in Argentina. We have in our knitting team a lady that was taught to knit by my grandmother; these people make me feel super confident, and give me the strength to carry on. After I’ve put together the knitting team, a sewing workshop followed to produce our cotton collection.
It took me almost a whole year to teach them how to produce the objects in my own way, so no one (except me!) could find the difference between something made by me or by my team.
I travel to Buenos Aires twice a year, where I work full time with my team, training them to make new pieces to add to our collection. For me the biggest challenge was learning to delegate, to rely on the abilities of others. I am lucky because every single member of my team cares deeply about what we do.
We are delighted to have you as our invited designer of The Pirouette One to Watch Award for this upcoming season. What was your inspiration behind designing the award? I was looking for a piece that could easily represent the action of looking for something good, something special; to represent that feeling of someone looking from a distance, and being able to “see”. So the idea of the spyglasses came to my mind.
I was determined from the start to make the award a hand knit by myself in B&W, and also hand embroidered which is one of the distinctive features of the Severina Kids brand.
Could you talk us through your creative process? As an architect and fashion designer I was trained to design many things, but I’ve never been able to create anything without a concept.
I need to nurture my imagination. I need an initial idea that guides me through the whole process of creating something, be it a building, a garment or a toy.
In the case of Severina’s toys sometimes I write a short tale, so focusing on it, I find the guide to shape a character, select the materials, the colours and making technique.
I also imagine an environment for it and its outfit or accessories.
Normally I finish the process hand drawing this environment and presenting my characters in it.
You have had a wonderful 2017. Congratulations for winning the Smallish Design Awards for Best Eco Toy Design. What’s in store for Severina for 2018? 2017 was a successful year; this was because I had a lot support from my team in Argentina and from my PR Maryline Price who’s based in London. I’ve learnt a lot this year and my plan for 2018 is to continue learning and growing.
In a world where everybody wants everything yesterday, my plans are long term, step by step.
Good kids design, what does it mean for you? As a mother I had an issue in terms of kid’s design, be it garments or toys, because I have a very defined taste in terms of aesthetic and convictions about utility and product quality. So I had to learn to allow my son Mateo to make his own choices when he became older enough.
When I’m in the designer’s seat, it’s different. I love to imagine myself as a little child playing with Severina’s designs but also I analyse it from a mother’s perspective. I want the toys to be eco-friendly, washable, soft and also beautiful.
If I have to define it in a few words, a good kids’ design should be: safe, eco-friendly, functional, beautiful and made with high quality materials and craftsmanship.
Finally, if you could have a dream collaboration, apart from with Pirouette ;-) who would it be? I have been delighted to collaborate with Pirouette; I remember being discovered and featured by Pirouette when the brand had just launched (see here & here) it was very exciting! But what a difficult question! How to choose, I have so many ideas…
I would be thrilled to make a design collaboration with Meri Meri, I can imagine myself designing all kinds of party supplies, a soft toy and a piñata!
Maybe a Doll range design for a kid’s fashion brand?
You can go say hello to Alejandra plus see the beautiful knitted & cotton Severina kids creations at: