From the moment we saw the very complete project of the Chilean-born Madrid-based Josefina Maiza, Hybrid Love, for the first time, we could not take our eyes off her incredible visuals. As well as the concept on which they are built since the fashion film and the photos that we now feature are the result of having interviewed dozens of people around the world. People of different ages, societies and nationalities reflect on such transcendental issues that unite us all like love, but from a deep and hypnotising perspective that flees from clichés. It’s impressive that the promising artist, whose work takes us into the world of cinema, has just graduated from the IED Fashion Styling & Communication Master. Now it's time to get into her final project.
Josefina, before getting into your Hybrid Love project, could you introduce yourself to our readers? Where are you from and where do you answer us from?
Hello! My name is Josefina and I’m an art director and fashion stylist. I’m originally from Chile, but I’m currently living in Madrid.
It is hard to believe that this fashion film and editorial that you are now presenting is your master's thesis. It’s fully consistent, the production and creative development are so complete, the aesthetics are so elaborate… But you have just graduated from the IED Fashion Styling & Communication Master, right?
Yes, I’ve just graduated from IED Fashion Styling & Communication Master and this was my final project. I had been thinking about this editorial for a while, so when I started the master it was the perfect time to make it happen, and rather than taking it as a school project, I think from the beginning I understood it as a more personal project.
As soon as the six-and-a-half-minute visual piece begins, you transport us to the year 2042. Why have you decided to make us travel into the future?
When I was studying Design in Chile, I learned about Speculative Design and since then I’ve always been interested in this area. The idea of ​​asking questions from the present to then develop future scenarios that break all kinds of assumptions or preconceptions of what we know. So, I’ve been always intrigued to make a fashion editorial taking speculative design as a starting point. On the other hand, and going a little bit deeper into the fashion film itself, I think that although it’s clear that the concept of love has evolved a lot in the past years, we are still not fully aware of this change and the definition of this concept is still very limited. Every day we see Instagram posts, music videos, movies, tweets, etc., talking about love only from a romanticised and humanised perspective, leaving aside many other spectrums. This way, I believe we still need to understand this concept from a more macro or open perspective.
So this is why I decided to transport the story to the future, to present and analyse how the concept of love could change, considering the changes we are experiencing today at a social, cultural and environmental level. All this is through the recreation of speculative scenarios that take love further beyond something merely human.
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You then pose one of the most interesting philosophical questions. In the universe you present, the kids have the power of asking one question to humans on Earth before they are born. After that, they can decide if they want to go ahead or not. How and when did this idea come to mind?
From the beginning, I knew that I wanted to divide the fashion film into different chapters, but I needed something to help me connect them, a kind of introduction. So this idea came to us at the end of last year when we started writing the script with the film director of the fashion film, Andrés Finat. We were inspired by a scene from the movie Mr. Nobody by Jaco van Dormael, where in a kind of heaven, they tell a story about unborn children. We found it interesting to raise the idea that a character who doesn’t know anything about the human world, is the eyes for a reflection on what love is. So this scene is a visual metaphor to introduce the basic question of the fashion film: what is love?
I’d like to know more about the moment in which you decide to take the step and materialise this concept in the form of an editorial and fashion film. Did you know how you wanted to do it? How long have you been working on this project?
Obviously, at the beginning I didn’t know how to do it, I just had the idea and it all seemed very unattainable, considering it was a student project and I didn’t have a big budget. But after finishing the script, the story began to materialise, the team began to grow and little by little the editorial and fashion film began to take shape. And, of course, it’s impossible to create something like this without help, so the team was essential since they supported me from day one and motivated me during the process. And I must also thank my tutors, Iván Denia and Rubén Gómez, who supported and guided me throughout the semester.
Now talking more about the fashion film itself, I think that the first two chapters were faster to develop, but the third one was a little bit harder and it was the one that took me the longest to conceptualise and turn into something physical. In fact, just building the blocks you can see in the last chapter took me about 80 hours. So we spent many arduous months on this project. We started in November 2021, and the final result was only ready by June of this year. It was an intense period, but it was my first time developing a project here in Spain, so I really enjoyed meeting and working with such talented people.
The video is structured into three chapters: Humans, Objects and Nature. Could you tell us a bit more about these different parts?
We divided the chapters based on the answers to the interviews and each one talks about a different perspective of love. The first chapter, Humans, talks about how the conception of love will change in terms of human relations, considering love as a ‘fluid reality,’ something that is constantly being reshaped depending on the context. It’s basically understanding love as a concept that is always changing and evolving. The second one is about how humans will be able to love objects because of their symbolic value, leaving aside de disposable culture. This chapter proposes that humans will be able to connect with objects in deeper ways because they will be considered bearers of memories. And the last chapter, Nature, talks about the connection between humans and nature and how we will learn to love nature as a way of survival and preserving different species.
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But beyond the strictly visual and the impressive result that you present, the project hides very intense fieldwork. As you’ve said, you have interviewed dozens of people from all over the world to find out their opinions on the topics you address, haven’t you? How has this process been and what conclusions do you draw from it?
Yes, with the director we interviewed a lot of people because we were interested in having the widest possible variety of answers. Our focus was to interview people of different ages, genders, nationalities, cultures, marital statuses, sexual orientations, people in monogamous and polyamorous relationships, etc., in order to have a very diverse view of the concept of love.
At first, we were a little scared of how the interviews could go, since we were interviewing about a concept that is really overexploited and can easily fall into many cliches. So we were afraid that we couldn't get many interesting answers in order to create an original story. But in the end, it was a really fun process and more than interviews, we ended up having conversations. It was very shocking to see the variety of unexpected opinions that came out about love. So, if I have to summarise all this process into one idea, I would say that the concept of love is a construct that has more to do with the background and personal experiences of each being, rather than something that can only fit into a dictionary definition.
From the idea that there is no single way to love to the symbolic value of objects, or the love for space, time or plants. The people interviewed share many interesting reflections throughout the fashion film. Is there anything that particularly caught your attention in their answers?
Yes. One of the questions we asked in the interview was how would love look like if it was something visible or tangible, and one of the interviewees told us that he imagined love as something liquid that could adapt its shape depending on the container. I think this idea of ​​understanding love as something liquid really caught my attention, cause then some interesting concepts began to appear like love as something amorphous. It seemed to me like a perfect way to explain such an ambiguous concept, and in fact, I took inspiration from these reflections to pick the name of the fashion film.
You have worked with great professionals on this project, how have you got in touch with them? Were they determined to join your initiative from the beginning?
I arrived in Madrid in October last year, so by the time I started working on the project I didn't have any contacts here. So I literally started looking for the whole team on Instagram and once I found people whose work I liked and that I thought fit well with the project, I started contacting them. I was really lucky because everyone was really nice and I was able to work with a very talented group of people like Andrés Finat (director), Juan Borgognoni (photographer), Álvaro Jimenez (cinematographer), Laura Índigo (choreographer), Jacinta Del Solar (makeup artist), Gorka Larcan (hairdresser), Yarden Karlinsky (stylist), Santiago Barros (styling assistant), José Carlos Redondo (assistant director), Matías Concha (sound director) and of course the amazing casting Noah, Jénèva, Cao, Emi, Minaya, Celia and Elena. And there were many more people involved with the project in the cinematography team, photography, sound design, FX, graphic design, etc., so I'm really thankful that I got to work with so many great professionals. Everyone was very committed to the project from the beginning and they made it an amazing experience.
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Yarden Karlinsky, who has also worked with you on the styling of Hybrid Love, was one of your classmates from the master's degree. Do you think you will work as a creative tandem in the future?
Yes, for sure! She is really talented and it's funny because we have totally different aesthetics, but we became friends super fast and I think we complement each other well. I also worked with her doing the set design for her master's final project and it was so much fun, and the result is amazing. So you will definitely see us working together again!
And if we delve into the pieces worn by the models, we find some of the most interesting brands in Spanish fashion. Otrura, Morle Studio or Ernesto Naranjo, among others. How important is styling in this project and how does it help convey the message?
The styling was a key factor to help differentiate the atmosphere of each chapter. For example, in the first part, which talks about human relationships, only white pieces were used to allude to underwear. But as the story progresses and new definitions of love are presented, the styling begins to ‘hybridise,’ taking non-human characteristics. The last chapter is the clearest example of how important the styling was when we see the model with really long braids, which by the way, was an incredible creation of Gorka Larcan, the hairdresser. Here the styling was a key element to represent the connections between humans and non-human species. I think sometimes there are things we can’t express in words, so it’s better to represent them in a visual way. Then styling and set become perfect tools to express this kind of message.
There is no doubt that you have a talent for creative direction, though you also seem to dominate audiovisual production. Will we see you in the world of cinema soon? What dream have you yet to fulfil?
Yes, I would love to work in the film industry! Especially in fantasy, sci-fi or surreal genres movies/TV shows such as The Handmaid's Tale, Pan's Labyrinth or Twin Peaks. And about my dreams, I would like to create my own studio and take my work as a creative director, set designer and stylist to different disciplines such as fashion, visual arts, music, film, design, etc. It's my dream to work for brands like Mugler, Marine Serre, Gentle Monster or Panconesi, and creatives like Liam Moore, Carlijn Jacobs or Avoir Studio. I would like to be known as an artist who works creating spaces far from reality as we know it. Well, and obviously, like any artist, to be able of making a living from this.
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