Ibiza style: Victoria Ibiza – Collections with a cause
Ibiza designer Victoria Durrer Gasse is known for her whimsical, bohemian fashion collections – colourful, vibrant, stylish and unique. Dreamed up and designed in Ibiza, many of Victoria’s ideas fly far from their island home to be created by a range of NGOs, women’s foundations and humanitarian organisations around the world before returning to the island to be showcased within the oversized walk-in-wardobe like room at La Galeria Elefante. Each beautiful, wearable creation boasts its own unique story, with each purchase contributing to making a positive change in another person’s life.
Victoria’s association with Non Governmental Organisations began around 15 years ago, when she encountered the Saraswati foundation through a friend in Bali. The foundation, based in a small cottage, included women of all spiritualities – Hindu, Muslim and Java – and together they created jewellery and clothing. “I really liked their ethics,” says Victoria. “Collaborating with Saraswati gave me the courage to go forward.” Today, the collaboration continues as the foundation works with Victoria on hand-stitching works, silks, her signature ‘twisted vintage’ and jewellery alike.
Two years plus many more countries and collections down the road, Victoria encountered an inspirational woman named Diane, who headed up a foundation for women and children in a small Nepalese village. To Victoria, it made sense to work alongside these women and contribute towards giving them a better lifestyle through their work. Embroidery was their specialty, and Victoria kickstarted their collaboration with a collection of kaftans – today you’ll find their lovingly made creations on the rails in La Galeria Elefante, easily identified by hand-embroidered butterflies and scarabs on hand-dyed silk and velvet.
More recently, in 2012, Victoria discovered SEWA – the Self Employed Women’s Assocation – in Delhi, an NGO that trains and teaches women in textiles techniques. Working together on embroidery, beading and hand-block printing, the results are truly beautiful – vibrant, oversized bohemian dresses, smocks and kimonos with colourful (often fluoro) trims and embellishments, their collaborations bear the specially designed label ‘Made with love and laughter’ – which Victoria, who spends much time working side by side with the women each year, attests is definitely the case.
Rural Artisans is another Indian NGO Victoria supports via more stylish collaborations. The organisation supports artisans in their own local villages, bringing work to them so they don’t have to leave home and travel to earn money for their crafts. “This keeps the tradition of their crafts alive in the village, in addition to bringing money to the workers,” she explains. You’ll find Rural Artisan’s work throughout La Galeria Elefante, ranging from pretty little throw cushions with positive affirmations to gorgeous hand-blocked scarves and unique hand-stitched bags.
The final piece of Victoria’s international NGO puzzle is Key to Freedom – a foundation run by Penny McIvor, who divides her time between London, India and Ibiza. Supporting the Calcutta based NGO Women’s Interlink Foundation, KTF rescues, houses and counsels women across West Bengal who have been trafficked or abused. Penny and Victoria were introduced by serendipitous chance in Ibiza and a collaboration quickly ensued. The project is one of the most successful collaborations between an Indian NGO and a commercial western enterprise, empowering and changing the lives of many young women and fighting against human trafficking. Each Key to Freedom piece sports a hand-written tag signed by the girl who made it, explaining the importance of your purchase – the payment from each garment goes directly to the worker, thus enabling them to take the steps towards a new life, with their new skills.
While fashion is indeed one of Victoria’s passions, so too is making the world a better place and supporting these communities and women adds so much depth to her already beautiful designs. Her relationships with each of the NGOs she supports is important, and she spends many months of the year traveling to be hands-on in the design process and communicates daily with many of them via modern technology. By purchasing one of Victoria’s pieces that has been made by these ethical associations, you’ll not only look good after your retail therapy, but feel good too!