Mena lombard is a fiercely positive woman that shines while managing her three children, husband, and teaching at miami international university as well as istituto marangoni. On top of that she is the leader and designer for a high-end fashion label that encapsulates the best from vintage haute couture with her bold contemporary aesthetic. It’s exhausting just thinking of all that work, but the uruguayan designer buckled down and founded her eponymous brand in 2013 and launched it in 2015. Throughout her career as a designer, mena has demonstrated an unerring eye for gorgeous rich colors and patterns. As a university professor teaching historical and future trends, mena does homage to past elegance, but her designs maintain her unique blend of sophistication, confidence, and a deep desire to make women beautiful. When one meets mena, you are immediately struck by her energy and smile. You also marvel at how gorgeous she dresses. Well, she should look gorgeous, mena dresses exclusively in her own clothes. But that is what makes mena lombard so special, her clothes are created to enhance a woman. You can pair one of her remarkable long swing coats with a gown or jeans, and that’s the point, mena’s clothes will augment a woman’s natural beauty. We welcome back mena with great anticipation not only because we love her clothes but because she is a positive force for making a woman feel empowered and assured. Besides she is one of the most polite, sweet, elegant women out there trying to prove that life is a balance of choices and with passionate dedication and hard work, success is inevitable.
I RECALL READING THAT YOUR PASSION FOR FASHION DESIGN STARTED AS A LITTLE GIRL ASKING FOR YOUR FIRST SEWING MACHINE AND THEN EXCITEDLY STYLING YOUR DOLLS. BUT IT WASN’T UNTIL AFTER YOU PURSUED A BUSINESS CAREER, AND THE BIRTH OF YOUR FIRST CHILD DID YOU DECIDE TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL IN MILAN AND START YOUR FASHION BUSINESS. THROUGHOUT ALL THIS TIME, WERE YOU BEEN PLANNING ON EVENTUALLY RETURNING TO FASHION AS YOUR ULTIMATE CAREER OR WAS THERE A SINGLE FLASH OF INSPIRATION THAT LED YOU HERE?
I have a very strong sense of responsibility, and that has shaped my decision-making all my life. Being born into a loving, close-knit, working-class family from Uruguay, my first adult-life decisions considered and reflected my reality. I spent many years focused and connected to the place and moment I was in rather than what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. I was happy with my choices, but as it always happens, and because you cannot stop nature, my true calling caught up with me at the most creative moment of my life: when I became a mom. Giving life reconnected me with my vocation while it provided me with a strength that I had never felt before. I couldn’t help thinking that if I could create life, why wouldn’t I be able to create a fashion label?
YOU HAVE STATED BEFORE THAT FASHION TELLS OUR INDIVIDUAL STORIES AND PROVIDES INSIGHTS INTO OUR MINDSETS, POLITICAL VIEWS, AND SOCIAL ISSUES. HOW DO YOU ENVISION WOMEN UTILIZING YOUR FASHION AESTHETIC TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES? IS THERE A SPECIFIC TYPE OF WOMAN THAT YOU HAVE IN MIND AS YOU DESIGN?
As a fashion designer, my focus is not on the garment but the woman who wears it. I make clothes thinking about the opportunities, moments, and experiences they will create in her life. When I design, I am very conscious of the fact that each garment, when worn, will have the power of influencing a woman’s vision of herself, and as a result, it will affect the vision others will have of her. That is a huge responsibility and one that I take very seriously. I embed all my commitment, passion, and dedication into every design I create so it can reach the woman wearing it. I do that so she can feel inspired, transformed, and empowered by her own reflection.
YOUR NEW COLLECTION IS CALLED “BALANCE”. WHAT WERE YOU REFERENCING IN CREATING YOUR DESIGNS? FINDING EQUILIBRIUM IN THE POST-PANDEMIC WORLD? OR SYMMETRY IN THE VISUAL WEIGHT OF COLORS, TEXTURE, AND SILHOUETTE?
“Balance” is a collection that addresses our need to maintain equilibrium in a state of constant movement because, regardless if the world must stop and shut down, life keeps moving forward. It is about embracing change without losing yourself or your dreams in it. It talks about the importance of handling what life throws your way and making the most of it. It is about the equilibrium of all the different elements we should pay attention to but more than that; it is about the fact that balance, like happiness, is a journey.
YOUR PAST COLLECTIONS EMBODY ONE OF YOUR CATCHPHRASES “NEVER STRAY FROM CHIC”, AND THEY ARE KNOWN FOR THE QUALITY OF THE FABRICS AND IMPECCABLE FIT. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIECE FROM YOUR CURRENT COLLECTION? AND WHAT STORY DOES THAT PIECE TELL?
Putting it in Simon Sinek’s terms, I realized that my “why” as a designer was intimately related to the “why” of the woman wearing my designs. I became aware that I wanted to give every woman the chance to be seen and heard by the world and by themselves. We are extremely hard on ourselves, and when we feel good about how we look, we can look at our own reflection under a new, more compassionate, and empowering light. To shine under a light that bright creates opportunities. Opportunities of self-care, of attention, of self-worth that will allow for doors to open our way. So, if you ask me about my favorite piece… it will always be the one that can provide that empowering light to the woman who wears it.
ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE DESIGNERS IS GABRIELLE “COCO” CHANEL, WHO WAS A COMMERCIALLY SUCCESSFUL VISIONARY THAT FREED WOMEN FROM MORE RESTRICTIVE, OVERLY EMBELLISHED CLOTHES OF THAT ERA. VISIONARIES TYPICALLY PUNCH THROUGH TRADITIONAL NORMS AND IN THE BEGINNING CAN BE CONSIDERED QUITE RADICAL. DO YOU INCORPORATE ANY OF CHANEL’S APPROACH TO FASHION INTO YOUR BUSINESS PRACTICES OR EVEN AS INSPIRATION INTO YOUR DESIGNS?
As a creative person, I believe that being inspired by the life and work of another human being takes me further in my journey. From Coco Chanel to Alexander McQueen, every designer I admire has been both evolutionary and revolutionary in their journeys. Their vision pushed and broke the boundaries paving the way for change, and their courage made them the first ones to walk down that path so the rest could follow. I have profound respect and admiration for that, and it should be something to remember, celebrate, and imitate. “Balance” addresses the search for harmony between different and opposite elements. It represents the need to keep moving forward while living in lockdown, the acceptance within the fight, the evolution along with the revolution. It symbolizes the fact that we are meant to keep evolving in order to thrive.
TODAY, THE DIGITIZATION OF FASHION SALES HAS ACCELERATED TO WHERE BRICK AND MORTAR STORES ARE CONSTANTLY UNDER PRESSURE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ENSURE THAT THE MENA LOMBARD BRAND IS VISIBLE AND ACCESSIBLE TO YOUR AUDIENCE?
The digital transformation of the world is a phenomenon that has reached every industry and our daily life. In the fashion industry, the digitalization of the buying experience started before this pandemic and dramatically accelerated during lockdown, allowing everyone to visit any store virtually when we were all unable to do it physically. As a brand, that means that you must become digital to facilitate the access of your offer to the public. The traditional experience is still present and valid, and that is why I’m now going back to the brick and mortar. But this has been a reset, so now we are learning how people will want to experience their fashion buying process so we can adjust to their preference to stay current and present.
FASHION IS A REMORSELESS INDUSTRY, ONE SEASON A DESIGNER SEEMS TO CAPTURE THE SWIRL OF EMOTIONS, FEELINGS, AND SENSATION OF THE MOMENT, THEN ONE DAY THEY ARE FORGOTTEN. HOW ARE YOU DESIGNING AND PRESENTING YOUR GORGEOUS CLOTHES TO REMAIN RELEVANT?
I believe that a way to stay relevant is to be able to capture and communicate my own view of the spirit of the times and translate that into each collection. “Balance” captures the need to take a break from having to spend our days inside our homes in leisure clothing, giving every woman a way and an excuse to dress up and go out. Its curved lines that show feminism allow women to take a little break from the genderlessness of the looks that we have been wearing these past 18 months. By balancing timeless style with modern design ideas, this collection showcases a sophisticated and strong woman who is determined to walk out again and take advantage of the opportunity attention can give, providing her with the perfect frame to shine under a renewed light.