Social Navigation

Mirror Palais owner Marcelo Gaia talks about the past, present and future of his beloved brand


Also in this collection, the more structural Cortez top with the La Falda skirt. Underwiring, roller loops and integrated three-tier hoop skirt with steel boning demonstrate Gaia’s versatility in garment construction.

As inspiration can be poured from an already served cup, an aspect of a petticoat from the brand’s third collection has been transformed into something bigger: the shell of the Ruffle Tunnel dress. The cream dress with adjustable black ties has been compared to Ariel’s makeshift dress after she transformed into a human in The little Mermaidbut Gaia says it was an involuntary, unconscious choice.

“When you put pen to paper, when you start working on your computer, when you start draping a piece of clothing,” he explains, “or when you do something to express that, it’s just a amalgamate other ideas that are all swirled around in your head.”

In The little Mermaid, Ariel’s struggle between living a double life and yearning for freedom are themes that particularly resonate in the queer community. The story of mermaid-to-mortal transformation has always fascinated Gaia, and the theme of transformation has been central to building this collection. Gaia’s creative ingenuity has always embodied her upbringing. “I’m super inspired by my Brazilian heritage,” he says. “Both of my parents are immigrants who came here in the mid-1980s. Growing up in a Portuguese colony in Brazil, there’s this interesting mix of old Europe, but the finishes and the overall execution has that kind of feel. tropical.

Photography by Hedi Stanton Anafer Flores & Marcelo Gaia

Photography by Hedi Stanton Anafer Flores & Marcelo Gaia

Mirror Palace has been accused of appropriating Catholic Mexican aesthetics, which Gaia denies. Speaking as a Brazilian Catholic man, he says, “you can’t accuse someone of appropriating something that is already their own culture.” He underlines the multiplicity of cultures in South America linked to Catholicism and European colonization by comparing the Spanish word “empanadas” to the Portuguese word “pastels”: “It’s the same thing”.

Gaia reclaims Catholicism. What was once traumatic is now a source of creativity, curiosity and strength. The Virgin, the Princess and the Mermaid is a manifestation of his healing. “When I see a church I’ve never been to, I go. And when I go to walk inside and smell the smells, when I see Christ, I feel comforted,” he says. “So I think all these characters – the virgin, the mermaid, the princess – they are comforting characters for me. . They do me good. »

Photography by Hedi Stanton Anafer Flores & Marcelo Gaia

Photography by Hedi Stanton Anafer Flores & Marcelo Gaia

Photography by Hedi Stanton Anafer Flores & Marcelo Gaia

For Gaia’s first runway collection, which took place at an Episcopal church, the Church of the Ascension, he wanted his clothes to elicit strong reactions. Unwittingly, however, he provoked the religious conscience of some. “A church? REALLY? I mean this is DISRESPECTFULLLLLLLLLLLL,” @iamchocolata commented on a Mirror Palace Instagram post.

For her part, Gaia feels that there was no disrespect, but rather a celebration of the bodies. After the show, the reverend of the church sent Gaia a letter calling the collection beautiful and thanking him for choosing the church. Although Gaia is proud of himself and his team’s work, he admits there was a bit of disappointment: CFDA validation and vogue were nowhere to be found after the show. But on TikTok, Instagram and even Twitter, the enthusiasm for Mirror Palais’ fifth collection was widespread.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.