The story of a brand means more to consumers now than ever before, and designer Marcelo Gaia lends his vibe and background to every piece he designs for Mirror Palais. Celebrities such as Bella Hadid and Dua Lipa understand the appeal.
“The world of Mirror Palais is like a time machine capturing romantic moments—my mom’s life growing up in Rio … my own life growing up in New York City in the ’90s,” Gaia tells BAZAAR.com. “It’s these little vignettes of what the world looked like during those times, and I’m trying to sort of re-create that magic.” A couple sharing a tender kiss in the ocean, a woman cycling through the streets of France, highway signs, and cassette tapes are just some of the images Gaia uses on social media to share the essence of the brand with its 237,000 followers. “Mirror Palais is just what the inside of my brain looks like,” he says.
Gaia’s journey into fashion began with thrifting, but he also fondly looks back on a Hot Topic fashion moment in sixth grade as one of his earliest notable outfits. That love of fashion led to a nearly decade-long stint as a stylist and, later, cofounding the now-defunct brand Rosemilk. Though he considers his first brand a success, he challenged himself to take a different approach with design this time around. “I wanted [the brand] to feel more sophisticated, and I wanted it to be something for people who wanted to look really sharp and elegant,” he says. His first pieces for Mirror Palais, a milky-toned cropped silk blazer and maxi pencil skirt, did just that.
“However shocking or new [our designs] may be, they’re always very wearable,” says Gaia, who takes familiar styles and puts his own spins on them, like the brand’s famed underwire cropped polo. “Sometimes it’s not about who did it first, but who does it the best,” he says, recalling what a close friend once said to him. “You can’t claim ownership to a miniskirt or a button-down shirt, but you can make it fit perfectly.”
Since launching in 2019, the designer’s access to his customers has been limited, but this month, he was able to host a long-awaited pop-up shop in New York City. There, he unveiled his latest campaign as well: a series of images shot by Hedi Stanton, a longtime Mirror Palais muse who also featured in the first photos for the brand’s website. The candid photos, inspired by ’90s Versace ads, were hung in an art gallery-like manner in the retail space. “It’s an intimate story of what it can feel like sometimes in a woman’s body,” Gaia explains. “There’s some undressing. It’s a bit voyeuristic, but not in a gross, creepy way.”
Following the excitement of finally meeting fans in real life, Gaia is already getting a start on his third collection, which will continue the label’s made-to-order method. It’s an approach that inadvertently pushes the brand toward sustainability, though for Gaia, it initially came about mostly as a means of fiscal responsibility.
Now, he keeps dialogue open around how to make even better, intentional decisions around sustainability, both for the brand and himself. “I think anyone who’s paying attention is grappling with this,” he says. “I’m taking little steps, but I’m very much in the beginning of the journey of reducing my personal carbon footprint.” Gaia says he also looks at the made-to-order method as a means of building a deeper connection between the clothing and the customer. “When it shows up, you’ve already been through it emotionally with this garment,” he says. “You’re not just going to throw it in a landfill after one season.”
Gaia’s inspiration for his new collection is wide ranging: the molding on a building, historical costumes (he’s recently taken interest in the documentary Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home), or a shoot he styled years ago but can pull from with his sharp memory. In short, you can never be too sure of exactly what’s going to come next from the designer. But if we’ve learned anything, it will be worth the wait.
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