“In Spanish fashion there is plenty of talent and there is a lack of investment”: Nieves Álvarez, the honest beauty

Nieves Álvarez (Madrid, 1974) reads all the cosmetics leaflets.

"In Spanish fashion there is plenty of talent and there is a lack of investment": Nieves Álvarez, the honest beauty

Nieves Álvarez (Madrid, 1974) reads all the cosmetics leaflets. More than 30 years of career in the world of fashion have allowed her to test the most expensive products and put her skin in the hands of the best dermatologists. She knows everything, she handles names of peptides, types of niacinamide, powerful antioxidants and different pH of acids with ease.

He has learned so much that he thinks he should share so much wisdom. With this ambition, he has created a cosmetic line that, in principle, aims to recreate his daily routine: a cleanser, a serum, an eye contour and a cream. “The first thing I want to say is that this is not marketing, it is not a line of products created behind my back that is labeled By Nieves Álvarez. I have had many such offers and I have always said no, because I wanted, if I ever did something with my name, that it be my own creation. The Nieves by Nieves Álvarez line, which can be purchased in Spain from March, is that real project that the top model had been looking for for many years.

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“The first thing I did was call my primary dermatologist, Dr. José Luis Ramírez from the International Dermatological Clinic, to ask him if he had to have a cream yes or yes for it to work. He told me about various peptides, and above all about ratios ”.

Nieves says that he has spent the last two years between laboratories, one in Granada and the other in Paris working on the development of formulas that are based on the stem cells of a very resistant Austrian flower, the snow flower, which grows at 1,500 meters, and contains twice as many antioxidants as vitamin C, this flower is the main asset of the products and where the top model turned entrepreneur has left everything.

“It’s also my first solo business adventure and I’ve decided to invest in a good active ingredient, I’ve even gotten involved in choosing the perfume, the textures, the proportions, everything,” she says, satisfied at a Starbucks in the center of Madrid. where we have met for this interview.

What does this brand bring back to the world of cosmetics so saturated with products and messages?

Honesty. After 30 years of working in fashion and beauty, this is my cover letter. I do not promise miracles, but I know that what I have is good, as long as it is used with consistency and discipline. In cosmetics and in life, success is achieved with perseverance and routine.

Will you have to use a lot of products to follow your routine?

I don’t think so, the line starts with four products that are essential to me: an almost perfect cleanser that doesn’t leave skin tight -I’ve been looking for one like the one I’ve found for years-, a serum that I’m very proud of, an eye contour and a cream. For me it’s the basics, but you don’t even have to use all the products daily.

The top model, who has walked for Yves Saint Laurent, Hermès and Dior, has been racking small bottles labeled with secret codes for more than a year. “I did not want to condition anyone and I have tried everything with very trustworthy people, with my real friends, my makeup artists, very close people. They have been my guinea pigs. Since I didn’t want to contaminate their perceptions by giving them clues, I gave them some coded vials and then wrote down their criticisms: this one didn’t like the smell, that one found the texture dense, this other one’s skin got a little irritated … until I had to stop asking questions and start listening to myself to make decisions”.

Nieves enjoys a rare privilege in the world of fashion: everyone speaks well of her. The veterans and the rookies. Those who have worked with her or those who want to collaborate in the future. She is someone who does not raise suspicions, rather sympathies and alliances.

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How have you managed to get everyone to speak well of you?

I think I’ve become an ego expert (laughs). I give everyone space to be delighted (more laughter). No, seriously, I’ve never believed in divism, it works for a lot of people, and perhaps I should have been more of a diva once, but I prefer to treat everyone well, not step on anyone, work as a team. During the creation of my cosmetic line I have been moved many times. I am used to doing many favors, and for the first time I have seen myself on the other side, calling to request… and I have had a terrible time but the reality is that they have all been there.

Nieves Álvarez believes in work and perseverance, but also, and a lot, in coincidences, chance and coincidences. She had no intention of dedicating herself to fashion but at the age of 18 an agent discovered her when she was leaving her school in Madrid, the Blanca de Castilla. Just the previous weekend, she had read a report in a newspaper supplement that explained how a top model was built and which were the best modeling agencies in Spain.

So when her discoverer accosted her in the street and mentioned the agency, it all sounded pretty familiar to her. Ella Nieves was one of the tallest in the school, but she assures that she did not attract attention, she was not “the pretty one”. She “She wore very long skirts, rather she was one of the weirdos at school. When my first photos began to be published in magazines, people at school said: “And why her?”

The first photos of what was destined to be our first international top were published in Telva, followed by an editorial in Vogue. Soon after, she was already traveling to Milan to make a production for the magazine Gioia with the English she knew from school and the Italian she had learned with the installments of Planeta Agustini.

Why did you study Italian?

I was fascinated by Italy, its history, its cinema, I was fixated on that language, on weekends I would go down to the kiosk and buy the Italian cassettes from Planeta Agustini. I remember my mother was black because she said that she had to study English. In any case, I learned English later for survival. Then everything fell into place: my first agent was Italian, and since we didn’t understand each other in English or French, we spoke Italian. And I said to my mother: do you see?

Were you happy to have entered the world of fashion?

I was not particularly excited. He also wanted to be a journalist, he was very young and was in a stage of experimentation, he didn’t know where he could fit in or what he was worth.

It was so valuable for fashion that in 1992 he was a finalist in the Elite Look of the Year contest, along with Eugenia Silva. Entering the shortlist of this contest organized by the Elite modeling agency means entering a list of consecrated. Nieves was only 17 years old and, without being very aware, she ended up walking for the designer Azzedine Alaïa with what are now known as the great tops of the 90s. Back then, nobody called them that, but they were goddesses for connoisseurs (and not so much). of the fashion world.

Do you still remember that coincidence with the greatest?

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I can forget things that happened to me a week ago, however, there are images of my career that I see flashing before my eyes, that show is one of them. I remember that at the casting I met Carla Bruni, Karen Mulder, Naomi Campbell, Yasmin LeBon… I knew them all from the magazines, but nobody knew me, I didn’t dare to speak. It all made me very ashamed. I have a photo from that day. I go out in a corner with my round face so as not to bother. I remember that Alaïa did not pay with money but with clothes. You went to her workshop and took what you wanted. The day I went I met Naomi, who was with a donkey of clothes trying and letting go. I grabbed a very large sweater and was leaving when Monsieur Alaia told me: “More, more”. So I took a black dress and a coat. And there I left her with the donkey of her clothes. I still have everything.

How did you meet Yves Saint Laurent?

They sent me to the casting of Nicole Dorier (the casting director of Saint Laurent). There everything was very organized: first you showed him your book, if he liked it you would go to a room, they would put you in a pencil skirt, glass stockings and a black sweater. From there you went to makeup, they tied up your hair and painted your lips red. The next thing, without further preliminaries, was to put yourself in front of Yves Saint Laurent. It was the first time I saw him. They told me: Walk! (walks), I obeyed and then they told me: Merci! Nothing else. I spent a few days without news, and one afternoon they called on the phone: “You do the parade.” It was the 93-94 season and it was the beginning of a beautiful love relationship.

What happens with Spanish fashion that never gets off the ground?

We have no industry. There is plenty of talent but there are no large investors who bet on it. We have not succeeded in turning Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid into an international event. I feel very proud when a Spanish designer opens his store, for example, Redondo Brand on Claudio Coello street or Ze García on Jorge Juan alley. Both in Madrid.

How do you defend a haute couture suit?

I first take a deep breath, then I say to myself: I’m wearing art. I am transformed, I feel extremely grateful to be able to wear them… they look so good on you that they even change the way you walk. I have been fortunate to photograph many haute couture suits and when you see inside you see that they are true works of art: the finishing touches, the embroideries, the volumes, the movement. I would have liked to keep some, but I never got it.

She says that you are very curious, what interests her outside of fashion and cosmetics?

I am very heavy, I read a lot and when I start a book I have to finish it and I have a freaky passion: I build architectural legos. I buy them all. For Reyes I give myself one or two, and since I’m a geek when I start one I have to finish it. The last thing I have built for myself has been the Olivetti machine with its table. Then I keep everything on my children’s shelves, but they haven’t inherited my passion, they laugh at me, they see it as a freak. (Nieves has three children, Adriano and the twins Brando and Bianca, the result of her relationship with the Italian photographer Marco Severini).

What slavery has the world of fashion left you with?

Slavery? Well, I think we do what we want. I have always known that to work as a model I had to have good skin and be thin. I learned to know my body, to eat well. Has it been a sacrifice? Well, in all professions there are. Nobody gives you anything.

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