Take a moment with búl designer Virginia Martin as she goes through her inspiration behind Spring Summer 22 and how the remote island of El Hierro paved way to vast musing across the latest seasonal story. 

Why did you choose El Hierro as your next destination muse?

I was met with a sporadic opportunity to journey the Canary Islands and El Hierro simply took my breath away. It is the smallest of the Canaries and is much less tourist driven than the popular destinations like Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Being so remote you feel completely off-grid, I really enjoyed the slower pace and peace and quiet of the island, El Hierro takes social distancing to a whole new level. Although small, the terrain is extremely diverse, from tidal pool swimming spots and volcanic coastlines to its ‘laurel’ pine forests, giant native lizards, and Juniper trees that twist and turn from the warm trade winds. While on the island I was enlightened to learn it holds a strong environmental focus while running on 100% renewable self-sufficient energy. It was great to witness a small yet mighty island making waves for future generations. With such contrasting landscapes, unique architecture, welcoming and warm people, alongside it’s environmental focus, I knew El Hierro would hold on overflow of inspiration for Spring Summer 2022. I hope this collection can reflect the gentle charm and untouched beauty that I felt while there and also remind us to slow down and reflect back to nature.

What aspects of the island did you find inspiration in?

To start with I looked toward the feeling the island gave me, which was a relaxed elegance. Oversized and flowy styles were inspired by warm summer days across the peninsula and more refined shapes took muse from quiet evenings at Parador de El Hierro. The vast coastline inspired irregular detailing such as organic shaped buttons and the contrasting environment gave way to voluminous silhouettes amongst more fitted and tapered styles. Colour was exciting to explore with marine tidal blues of pastel and ocean mixing with pine and cacti greens, coastal monochromes and rich volcanic tones. 

Prints this season drew from ancient maps when El Hierro was considered the ‘Meridian’ Island. Classic stripes play upon latitude/longitude lines and abstract prints take shape from the island’s topographic lines. You will also see a fun polka dot print that pays homage to the giant full moon I witnessed on a sunset and star-gazing experience while I was there. Naturally lightweight and breathable fibres are at the forefront in cotton, linen, cupro, rayon and tencel, as well as semi-sheer blends that will be very welcomed come peak Australian summer. Lastly, this season sees new additions to our growing accessories collection across belts, socks and carryalls with features such as cut-out ‘Atlantic wave’ detailing in palettes that compliment and pair back to the collection. An overall sense of everyday escapism is felt when I look at this collection and I hope our customers can delight in this also, especially after the year/s we have all had.

How did you spend your time in El Hierro?

As the island is so small, it is extremely easy to get around. When not on foot, I drove around the little towns and tried to explore as many pockets as possible. From diving in the crystal clear waters and enjoying fresh fish at the small village of La Restinga surrounded by volcanic ash and cacti to visiting the sacred Garoé tree and the wild fairytale-like Sabina (Juniper) trees that are twisted and witch-like in appearance. My accommodation was based on the bay of Las Playa at Parador de El Hierro, which mimicked the low-rise, pitch-roofed architecture that you see on the island and made for an incredible backdrop to every photograph. Meeting the people and sharing stories over local cuisine is always a highlight, from volcanic style winemaking in El Pinar to Jamon and Queso at La Peña with panoramic views of the El Golfo Valley. Although all of the above was enjoyed, the main part that stays with me is the sense of ease, relaxation and a slowed pace of lifestyle that was felt across the island. El Hierro is definitely a place for the soul.

What are your favoured pieces of the collection?

After restrictions across Melbourne and many work-from-home days ease I’m looking forward to dressing up and heading out in the polka-dot pairings of the Isla Top and Taibique Skirt. This set is rather elegant but also a bit of fun with the dramatic puff sleeves and bold cream/black spot print. I’m also enjoying our new accessories, including the Lagarto, our take on a souvenir cap, with an embroidered nod toward El Hierro’s native ‘Simonyi’ giant lizard.

What excites you for the spring/summer ahead? 

Melbourne has had a bit of a wild winter, so I’m definitely looking forward to the warm Australian summer ahead. Whether it is picnics in the parks with friends, cycling the Yarra Trail, surfing the South Gippsland coastline or going for day trips to hike into the wilderness, being outdoors will be key. I’m also looking forward to the long warm nights as daylight savings comes into full effect. Being able to leave the studio and it still be light outside and perhaps popping to a gallery or supporting an outdoor event that the city of Melbourne is so great at offering will be wonderful.