The famous Peruvian designer Geraldine Schmiel, recognized for her long and successful career in the world of fashion, passed away this Saturday, May 14 at the age of 94, according to one of her relatives. This departure is a significant loss for the world of national haute couture, where the dressmaker left her mark as one of the distinguished figures of this field in the country.
Geraldine’s career, pioneer of high fashion in Peru, leaves a story of success, but also of struggle. She always knew that this was her path. As she recounted in one of her last interviews, she had been born “with a needle in her hand” and was watching her mother how little by little she was taking her first steps between fabrics and threads, learning early to sew with the machine that I had at home.
“My mother liked to sew a lot and she sewed for us, so I spent time with her and her sewing machine to see how she sewed. When I was 4 years old I already knew how to sew with a machine, pedal machines where you had to put your feet and I couldn’t reach it, I couldn’t touch the floor”, Schmiel told Caminos de Chacarilla magazine.
However, she had to overcome several obstacles before she began to build her career in the world of fashion design. Her family initially wanted her to follow a conventional lifestyle, dedicated to a university career, something that she simply refused for her future.
“My father wanted me to study for a degree because I was one of the first students at the Santa Rosa school. My dad used to say that I had to have a career, a lawyer, a doctor, whatever. Instead, I didn’t want to, so he would make me cry because I didn’t want to do those things,” he claimed.
Thanks to the persistence in following her passion, she finally managed to establish herself and was able to start in the world of haute couture. Her first opportunities came from her friends who, admiring her talent for making garments, ordered dresses from her that she had to send from Trujillo to Lima, which achieved high popularity among her acquaintances, which led her to decide to settle in the capital, despite his father’s opposition.
“My friends convinced me to come here to Lima, because people were fighting over my dress and buying it because what I sent them was good. When I decided to come, my father told me here you don’t lack anything, you have everything, but if you want to go to Lima to become independent, fine. But if you need money and you don’t have it, you have to go back to your house, otherwise you don’t, and I never came back to my house”, said the dressmaker.
The transcendental moment of her career was when, ironically, her father, in one of his last attempts to make her stop thinking about sewing, sent her to Spain for two months. It is here, during the 1960s, that he took advantage of a new opportunity and entered the Asunción Bastidas Fashion House as an apprentice, one of the most renowned in the Iberian country, a place where he managed to learn more about his trade and was able to stand out for his expertise in making wedding dresses, the store’s specialty.
This experience served her well when she returned to Lima, where through the mouth of her old friends, aware of her experience in fashion, she begins to gain recognition among different personalities, who, observing the elegance and quality of her garments, begin to order suits and dresses from his collection.
It is here that her personal brand, Geraldine, was born, specializing in haute couture, and which, little by little, gained followers among the most privileged classes in the country and set the standard for good dress for Peruvian women.
During the following two decades, he consolidated his own fashion house, launching successful collections on the market, including his famous line, Prêt a Porter (ready to wear), as well as focusing on valuing the brand he had created.
During the 1990s, it was Geraldine Schmiel who brought the quality of Peruvian alpaca wool fibers abroad, when she began to export coats made with it, which were received with great success in Europe and the United States, that opened the international door to this fabric that today is recognized for being one of the best in the world, as well as to other producers who currently make a living from garments of this style.
Schmiel leaves behind her a lifetime of legacy, not only her brand, her quality, or the training school she founded, but also her example, which serves Peruvians who aspire to succeed in the world of fashion, like her. did it and as always wanted.