”Fashion is very dangerous, it is full of ups and downs; the relationship ends up being love-hate, you suffer a lot and the work is very hard. You’re always on the verge of going bankrupt.” The phrase, which designer Antonio Miró told this newspaper in the summer of 2007, sums up the ambivalent relationship he had with the industry during his lifetime. The official tailor of the Olympic Barcelona died on Wednesday night, at the age of 74, the victim of a myocardial infarction in Barcelona.
Creator of the uniforms for the Olympics and the Forum of Cultures, the new curtain for the Liceu in 1997 or the costumes for the Mossos d’Esquadra, Miró was the Catalan designer of this era par excellence; the one that efficiently interpreted the spirit of modernity and openness that was experienced in the nineties, the prodigious decade of Barcelona del Disseny. The Catalan turned the uncomplicated wardrobe backgrounds —that functional minimalism that he himself displayed— into the symbol of the explosion of multidisciplinary creativity that he saw himself capable of designing from his city and for the rest of the world. He collaborated with photographers like David Lachapelle, musical minimalism artists like Ryuichi Sakamoto and even paraded actors like John Malkovich, who is a fan of his brand, or Jordi Mollà on his catwalks.
The son of a tailor and born in Sabadell, Miró opened his first store in 1969, when he was only 20 years old. He called it Groc (yellow), and placed it in the heart of Barcelona: where Rambla de Catalunya meets Provença street. In 1982, by commissioning the first remodeling of his legendary premises to the architect Oscar Tusquets, he demonstrated his commitment to design and multidisciplinary dialogue with other creative branches. If Miguel Milà triumphed at that time with functionality in the lamps and objects he designed, Miró did so with clothing. His formula also served to dignify the design of men’s fashion. “He was a pioneer in creating avant-garde men’s Barcelona fashion,” explains designer Txell Miras about his legacy. “Miró was a person with a great design vision and a special sensitivity. From the ‘less is more’, betting on comfort and discretion, he managed to create his own label very connected to the reality of his time”, adds the Catalan creator. A legacy also defended by Pepa Bueno, executive director of the Association of Fashion Creators of Spain (Acme): “Like Adolfo Domínguez with men’s tailoring, Miró took an avant-garde turn, his unstructured suits for men were synonymous with success ”.
In the bonanza decade of the nineties it did not stop reaping awards and its expansion was triggered by the hand of Ermenegildo Zegna, which distributed its garments internationally. Winner of the Cristóbal Balenciaga award for best Spanish designer in 1988, and of the FAD medal awarded by the Industrial Design Association for the Promotion of Decorative Arts, he also won the Gaudí Catwalk Medal. A pioneer in Spain in integrating non-professional models on the catwalk, he paraded in Barcelona, Madrid, New York, Tokyo, Milan, London and Paris.
He never stopped when it came to showing his discomfort at Barcelona’s loss of influence in the battles with Madrid for the catwalk capital, which marked the first decade of the 2000s so much. “It’s a shame we have to go”, he said in 2008, hurt by the management of the Generalitat in front of established designers. It was then that he sold 70% of his company to the company Nuevos Valores Textiles, controlled by the Catalan families Arquero and Nassia, in turn owners of the Twenty industrial group, owner of the license for Spain of the French firm Marithé & François Girbaud. The company that bears his name, of which he now managed that 30%, filed for bankruptcy in May 2021.
“Once I went to a job interview and bought a suit of his that gave me tremendous luck,” says the Barcelona designer Teresa Helbig. “I remember his store on Rambla Catalunya con Provença, he had jugs of wine and people drank while they shopped… you can imagine how much fun it was: experience, innovation and ingenuity, always on his agenda”, he adds about a creator who “was tenacity, perseverance and creativity”.
“If Armani dressed the creative elite of Italy, Miró did it with Barcelona,” says Estel Vilsaseca, fashion director of the LCI Barcelona school. Two of her children follow in her footsteps. Pau, the youngest, studies fashion and the eldest, David, presented his first collection, in collaboration with his father, at the legendary Groc store, coinciding with the relaunch of the premises in 2019. Miró’s legacy, in addition to his clothes and multiple collaborations that he signed, is glimpsed in his family.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.