GREENWICH VILLAGE – If life imitates art, then the glamorous pieces that fashion designer Caterine Sanchez makes are garments that embrace sensuality, femininity, imagination and nature, while incorporating movement, drawn images by hand and, if we dig a little deeper, even symbols of his admiration for a group of Franciscan friars.
âI am very close to the brothers, I love them very much,â Sanchez said. “It’s just the community, the love, the animals, Saint Francis.”
The designer and professional dancer met the Franciscan Brothers of the Renewal (CFR) on Easter Sunday three years ago. Although the Peruvian side of her father’s family is Catholic, she sees herself as a Christian strongly involved in the Catholic community.
As she lives not far from the brothers’ residence in Harlem, she volunteered for the various evangelization programs in this community. They host weekly soup kitchens and cafes and spend time with their neighbors to pray and fellowship.
âYou find a community and you get involved,â Sanchez said. âI’ve been really involved in the Catholic community for years – Frassati (a prayer group for young adults) and young adult massâ in the Archdiocese of New York. Her closeness to her faith, she added, prompts her to attend a holy hour regularly at St. Malachy Parish in Midtown.
As a visitor walked through the hallway of Sanchez’s design studio, which also serves as his apartment in Manhattan, his latest fall collection, which debuts in late September, appeared on a clothes rack. Pieces of fabric in warm shades of red and canary yellow were glued to the wall. On a nearby table, a box contained picturesque gilt-metal headdresses and crowns that only a ballerina would get away with.
One might not equate the serene and organized vibe in her studio to the excitement of her show at New York Fashion Week on September 7. She explained the comfort of living her essence.
âI knew when I was 7 that I wanted to be an artist and that doing art was important to me,â said Sanchez, 35. âIt was just a matter of figuring out how to express that. “
Years of professional training and artistic education eventually led her to study fashion textile design in Milan, Italy. This experience abroad was the catalyst for the meeting of his creative experiences.
âI love the movement and my dance experience, and it all came together, and I was like, fashion is,â she said.
The flowers that attract her are drawn and then become prints for her dresses. Delicate fabrics, feathers and string tapestries are sewn because she imagines how a woman walks or moves in her designs. His sparrow print? Each sparrow is inspired by a different Franciscan brother. The symbolism of nature and faith is a special way of incorporating one’s personal history into one’s pieces.
“For me, I was going through a season of my life, and I just felt like I was only loved by God, surrounded and protected.”
Sanchez worked at several companies, including the big fashion label Alexander Wang, until two years ago, when she decided to go solo and launch a clothing line named after her.
She continued to teach dance, then came home and volunteered, mixing art and movement into her designs.
Now seeing her designs worn and presenting them to the world comes full circle for her.
She said she felt “a sense of wonder” when someone “can wear this poetry in motion that I have created.” The fabrics are “my canvases”.
It’s no wonder that his brand’s mission, echoing âLaudato Siâ, is to thoughtfully and continuously practice social responsibility and sustainability, as well as to minimize waste. She works with local manufacturers for her printing and sewing needs.
“Laudato Si”, which roughly translates to “Praised are you, my Lord”, is an encyclical written by Pope Francis, focused on the love of nature and the care of creation.
âI love to create beautiful things and I want to create something exquisite,â Sanchez added, âthat takes your breath away.â
Fast forward to the night of his parade in Greenwich Village and the vibrant energy that spread from one side of the art gallery to the other. Whether it was the movements of the models parading the catwalk to the beat of a live salsa band, or the post-event dancing of the guests, a peaceful gathering of strangers seemed to begin, the Franciscan way.
âI read that salsa and music are her inspirations, so it’s amazing,â said Marina Kaljha, fashion show participant. âIt’s very pretty. The colors are so vibrant and energetic.