Antonio Banderas brought the star power and then some Wednesday at a press conference at the Mandarin Oriental Miami Hotel to launch Miami Fashion Week, in its 18th year.
These days the star of such movies as The 33, Puss in Boots, Expendables 3 and Matador has more interest in how clothes are designed than how scripts are written. The Spaniard explained that he’d been studying bespoke tailoring at the renowned Central Saint Martins London art school.
And it hasn’t exactly been a walk in Hyde Park.
“Believe me, it’s not easy to enter university when you are 55 years old,” he said to laughs. “I had to do a lot of convincing that my intentions were real, and I was serious. They believed in me, and I began to work. I needed knowledge.”
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Banderas obviously picked up some skills — he is set to debut a few pieces from his eponymous men’s line with Scandinavian label SELECTED Homme on Saturday reportedly at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.
The learning process isn’t complete.
“I’m like an elephant in a crystal store,” Banderas joked. “I need to tiptoe into this universe where there are people I respect enormously.”
Among those people: fellow countrywoman Agatha Ruiz De La Prada, seated at the table with him at the Mandarin.
“She has such a strong personality, and I admire her so much,” said Banderas of the designer known for her whimsical, colorful dresses and who will be showing at MIAFW. “She encouraged me and told me to go with my gut and try something new.”
Another inspiration for Banderas is a surprising one: Anthony Hopkins, his costar in 1998 action adventure The Mask of Zorro.
The then 38-year-old confided early on to the Oscar winner that he wasn’t sure he would be able to pull off playing the iconic swashbuckler.
“Anthony said to me, ‘What are you worried about?’ ” relayed Banderas. “Then he took me aside over to a huge mirror. He said, ‘Look and tell me what you see.’ I said, ‘I see myself, and I see you.’ And he yelled back, ‘No! You have on a hat and a mask and a cape. The colors are black. You are Zorro. Just stay there and let the camera film you. The clothes define you.”
Those words of advice stayed with Banderas a long time.
“Clothes do define us, sending messages to other people about who you are.”
Banderas’ decision to attend Miami Fashion Week as honorary president was easy to make. He absolutely loves Miami, thanks to the fact many of us speak his native tongue.
“I feel very comfortable here and have a very interesting attachment to this city,” he said, adding he had great memories of shooting two 1995 movies here — Miami Rhapsody with Sarah Jessica Parker as well as Two Much, where he met Melanie Griffith, his wife of almost 20 years whom he divorced last year.
Banderas hinted the split was another impetus for him to enter the world of fashion.
“Something happened in my personal life that allowed me to rethink things,” he said. “I wanted to try and reinvent myself.”
Miami Fashion Week runs through Sunday; the runway shows are invite only.