You could be having a good summer, a great summer, or even a #hotgirlsummer, but there’s little chance that your revelries even hold a candle to the riotous Eden that Armin Heinemann presided over in Ibiza during the ’70s, and ’80s. A German architect by trade, Heinemann arrived in Ibiza in 1972 and came to own Paula’s, a boutique that was as famous for being an international hub for the hippie lifestyle as for its signature floral garments. Cut loose and free, with deep V-necks or blouson sleeves, the items sold at Paula’s promised to turn even straight-backed upper-crust visitors to Ibiza into spirited bohemians. More than just clothing the era’s most influential people, from Freddie Mercury to Jean Paul Gaultier (neither of whom you could call straight-backed), Paula’s also played host to the island’s best happenings. The evidence is in Heinemann’s book, Paula’s Ibiza 25 Years, which presents a collaged portrait of best days in this Balearic paradise.
The good times at Paula’s came to a close at the end of the 20th century, but couldn’t stay forgotten for long. In 2016, Loewe reached out to Heinemann about reviving his store and collections; creative director Jonathan Anderson had vacationed in Ibiza growing up and had become familiar with local Paula’s lore. The results have been co-branded as Loewe Paula’s Ibiza, a collection of womenswear, menswear, and accessories that’s been released yearly since the summer of 2017. The latest collection, photographed in the Dominican Republic by Gray Sorrenti, is a mash-up of tropical prints, seashell details, and gigantic “cushion” totes made of spliced patterns that channel the haphazard creativity of the era. Last weekend, Loewe hosted its own Paula’s fiesta on the island’s Eivissan coast. How did it compare to Heinemann’s heyday? He was, perhaps not coincidentally, out of town.
.Here, the Paula’s founder reflects on his hippie heights and rethinking the idea of fashion collaborations in the 21st century.
What brought you to Ibiza, and why did you decide to stay?
We’re speaking about the ’60s and ’70s in Ibiza. It was the hippie times and the hippie culture. There was an international community of non-conformists, of runaways from society, in Ibiza. We all had our different reasons to come, but we wanted to be free of the pressure of life in our countries, from capitalism, and from the patterns of gender roles. I, myself, came because I fled from violence in my chaotic marriage. One day, I took my two children, and I ran away.
When I came to Ibiza, into this hippie world, I was prepared to enter into a period of creation. Of course, I took drugs like everybody, but I was not in danger to get lost in those drugs like you can easily do.… The drugs they helped me to discover the beauty of all I was seeing, the beauty of nature and the beauty of all the facets of my new hippie life. I was able to see everything as beautiful elements to play with and to work with. That was the situation when I came to Ibiza.
I read that you came to own the store in a sort of accidental way, that someone invited you there in the evening and sort of locked you inside until you agreed to buy it?
Yes. When I came to Ibiza, I wanted to be an architect; I wanted to continue my work, but there was no way that I could do that here. I had no idea about fashion. Somebody pushed that store on me, and I just said yes, and that was all. Then I got a postcard from a customer who wanted some blouses. That became a whole adventure of the beginning of the store in Ibiza. I had to find out: How do I get material? How do I find a seamstress? How do I produce and have things made? How do I sell it to the customer?
That was a very beautiful period of my life. I started very, very, very small with five blouses, and then I could buy material for two dresses. When that was sold I could buy material for four dresses, and then for eight, and so on and so on. I never had any debts, and I never took any credit. I didn’t start with the capital to invest and then have ideas of how to do things. It all just came how it came.
I did not feel that I entered into the fashion world, not at all. I just wanted to do my work and wanted to experience this beautiful adventure. It was all new to me, and I knew that I had to be honest to myself and that I had to be honest to the customers. Then I met Stuart [Rudnick, Paula’s co-founder]. We never felt anything like being part of the fashion world. We just felt that we lived a beautiful, very creative experience of having a store and being so lucky that customers were coming, tourists were coming, that we could attract them, and that we could make something happen in the store and in front of the store so that people would come. We just lived in our own personal Ibiza hippie world.
How did you design the pieces? Did you sketch them? Were they based on what materials you had available?
It was an adventure, of course. My head was prepared, in general, for the art of creation, and my training as an architect also helped me to understand the patterns and to understand how to put things together. If you really think about it, fashion is not so far away from architecture.… In fashion, sometimes, it’s easier because if the seamstress sets in the sleeves the wrong way, you can just cut them out and it’s fixed in a minute, whereas if the walls in a building are set wrong, it’s a little more complicated. So this part was also a relief from the pressures that I had as an architect to do things right and definite.
Here, in fashion, there came many playful and beautiful ideas of the moment. The seamstresses, they were very naïve. There were not professional seamstresses in a workshop; they were in the country, in their houses. In front of the food, the animals, the grandmother, and the children, you had to explain to them how you wanted your blouse or your dress to be done. Of course, they didn’t understand it because my Spanish was not so good at the time, so then many mistakes happened. All those mistakes were the base of new models and new creations. I learned to accept mistakes as something beautiful and something good.
How would you describe the Paula’s aesthetic?
This question is for somebody who decides to do something that starts very intellectually. We were not intellectual at that period or in those times. We were living a life full of adventures. Every moment was a creation. How can I explain that to you? For example, there was nobody who made fashion with floral prints at those times, neither international nor here in Ibiza. I found these old floral prints, it was curtain material, and I loved it, so I bought the material, and I brought it to the seamstress and asked if they could make the same blouse we had made before but make the sleeve different. She made a mistake and made the blouse with the material inside out. I thought it was even more beautiful that way. That’s how the fashion came about. It’s not like I decided to make a blouse with material from the wrong side because it was reflecting my ideas of aesthetics. It was very, very simple—very, very primary.