Watching the sisters Achaval come down the hill towards the highly secured entrance of the Lacoste party in Jose Ignacio was one of the most memorable, enchanting sights I ever witnessed. The slanted street was lit by dim lanterns and there was a slight sea breeze pushing its way up and through the descending trio and their entourage. Sofia wore a fuchsia satin skirt that almost trained the concrete and a black, lace veil covering her long, fine platinum hair. Her skin was white as snow – almost illuminated. Marina wore a silk, trompe l’oeil transparent, billowy cream Prada dress with hand printed flowers, her long black hair coming down past her shoulders in coiffed curls. Isabel wore a cotton caftan she bought in Africa – there was something very YSL about it. They looked as though they had stepped out of a Brothers Grimm book, like modern day fairies, in sharp, refreshing contrast to the other party goers who all seemed to have raided the Versace outlet store.
A few days later I was invited to the Achaval New Year’s Eve party at the old house. It’s a tradition for Argentinians to celebrate the new year in Punta, and to wear all white. “And it’s a good way to escape the European winter too!” adds Sofia. She’s been living in Paris for the past ten years. She moved here to study fashion design at Studio Bercot and eventually started working as a fashion stylist and married a French novelist. They have one daughter together, Paloma, who’s now two years old. Sofia mainly works for V magazine and its affiliates and shoots a lot with Sebastian Faena, “a childhood friend”, and Sofia and Mauro, two other fellow Argentinians. “I really enjoy shooting the top models from the 90s like Linda and Naomi, the real fashion icons,” she muses. When you see her work, you can easily imagine Sofia in each one of outfits she created, or at least picture her dreaming up the silhouette.
Sofia is a delicate, pretty girl. You’d never think she was a mother, nor that she’s 31. She speaks in a refined, cute Spanish accent and always has this bright, open look on her face, as if she’s genuinely interested and committed to make you feel part of her world. Her personal style is whimsical, feminine, glamourous and influenced by a variety of curious interests. She loves to wear hoods and capes and veils. “I’m inspired by nuns, monks and all the religious outfits,” she starts. “I went to a catholic school; I think thats why I’m fascinated with it.” She also attributes her sophistication to images of her mother in 70s Buenos Aires and pictures of her grandmother looking like a Hollywood movie star. “Women in Argentina are very beautiful, feminine and chic,” she describes. “I have pictures of my mother with high heel boots and silk dresses, and of my grandmother with beautiful jewelry, gloves, and amazing dresses. I dreamt about it when I was a child.” She names Jerry Hall as her style icon and admits to a mild obsession with cinema. “I watch old movies all the time. The last one I saw was Blonde Venus with Marlene Dietrich. I love actresses like Catherine Deneuve, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth.”
Sofia shops a lot of vintage, because she enjoys “discovering things and having original pieces. I also use vintage for my fashion editorials and inspiration.” She likes to invent crazy outfits for parties and loves dressing up at night. For work she’s been wearing over-the-knee black Azzaro boots and a fur. But if she had a choice, she’d wear Chanel every day of the week. “It’s classic and chic,” she states. A few days later we are seated a couple of rows from each other at the show. “The Chanel show is always an amazing experience,” she reflects. “This time it was like a superman kryptonite installation. The clothes were less exciting for me this time, but there was a modern, futuristic idea behind them that was intruiging. And the music was great!”