cultural and sustainable leadership, with “ñ” from A Coruña

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The heirs of great fortunes always claim to have had it harder than the rest of mortals to get where they got. And of course, to achieve their own and personal achievement they have it complicated. Since it became known that the youngest daughter of Amancio Ortega, the main shareholder and founder of Inditex, would become the new president of the multinational, all eyes have turned to Marta Ortega. She asked her employees for “support and patience.”

Marta Ortega replaces her father, who managed to build a textile empire from Galicia, and Pablo Isla, a man who transformed them into a company prepared for the 21st century and whose name is already among the “galactic” of finance.

As if that were not, in itself, an enormous responsibility, Marta Ortega also faces the challenge of opening a new path, a project of hers and no one else’s, in which she can demonstrate that she has that wood from which the authentic leaders. And, as the saying goes that “it is well-born to be grateful”, the first thing he did in the company’s statement announcing the changes was to thank Isla “for her immense contribution, not only to our Group but also to the industry of fashion in general.

Secondly, she declared herself “deeply honored and committed for the trust that has been placed in me”, as well as “hugely excited about the future that we are all going to undertake together”. It escapes no one’s notice that Marta Ortega has been conscientiously prepared, since she was a child, for when this moment arrives.

As she herself recognized: “I have lived this company since my childhood and I have learned from all the great professionals with whom I have worked during the last 15 years. I have always said that I would dedicate my life to developing the legacy of my parents, looking to the future but learning from the past and at the service of the Company, our shareholders and our clients, in the place where I am most needed”.

And, as in all the biographies of the men and women who reached the top, Marta Ortega began her ascent to the top from the bottom of the ladder, folding shirts in a group store in London and going through the Finance, Accounting and Design departments.

And so, until he managed “the strengthening of Zara’s brand image and fashion proposal, an area that he will continue to supervise”, as detailed in the Inditex statement, which added: “Under his leadership, campaigns have been carried out with the most reputable creatives from the sector such as Steven Meisel, Fabien Baron, Karl Templer or Luca Guadagnino, as well as the launch of new premium collections, including Zara SRPLS and Charlotte Gainsbourg by Zara”.

Those projects showed a discreet, quiet and “low profile” leadership, with which Marta Ortega feels very comfortable: due to her character and her shyness, she has always fled from the constant media attention that she evidently arouses and has preferred to remain in the background. Until now.

Marta Ortega has found that project, with the entity and relevance necessary to affirm her own personal leadership style, something that would transcend the borders of the company and would have an impact on the lives not only of clients and shareholders but also of society in general. : The exhibition Untold Stories by Peter Lindberg.

The exhibition, qualified by the Financial Times as “one of the five most important cultural events on the planet”, it could be seen for the first time at the Kunstpalast Museum in Düsseldorf, Germany (the country where Lindbergh was from). After passing through other cities in Germany and Italy, it was exhibited in Spain for the first time. But, Throughout this seemingly easy process, Marta Ortega has played a crucial role.

The new president of Inditex was not only an admirer of Lindbergh’s work, but also a personal friend of the German photographer, one of the few admitted to Marta’s “inner circle” and to whom she entrusted the photo session of her wedding with Carlos Turret, in 2018.

Peter Lindbergh, next to a portrait of him by Marta Ortega, in Paris in 2019. (PETER LINDBERG FOUNDATION PARIS)

Peter Lindbergh, next to a portrait of him by Marta Ortega, in Paris in 2019. (PETER LINDBERG FOUNDATION PARIS)

Some different images, in which she is seen happy and relaxed. Because precisely, Lindbergh’s work behind the camera was characterized by “capturing her personality and special moments of intimacy in her snapshots”, as one of the exhibition texts explains.

Considered the “father” of the famous first top modelswas able to see that beauty is not one but many: “His belief that individual beauty is multifaceted and that there is authenticity in imperfection catapulted Lindbergh to fame” and made him a photographer of souls.

The project was also part of the opening plan for the Port of A Coruña, which began last year, with the rehabilitation of the Battery Dock. The Galician Elsa Urquijo, considered one of the leading architects of the Inditex group, transformed an industrial warehouse into an exhibition center and reconverted a Cementos del Cantábrico silo into a cafeteria and a shop. An example of sustainability, by giving a new use to an unused area and putting it at the service of the city.

The enclosure was accessed through a corridor of port containers, now painted black, which opened the way to the main nave, where the first self-retrospective personally curated by photographer Peter Lindbergh has been exhibited, shortly before his premature death in September 2019.

Panoramic view of the A Coruña venue where the Peter Lindbergh Untold Stories exhibition was exhibited

Panoramic view of the A Coruña venue where Peter Lindbergh’s exhibition “Untold Stories” was exhibited

Mathieu Ridelle.

“Peter and Galicia share many similarities… wild nature, natural beauty and that human warmth that makes us feel alive,” writes Marta Ortega in a text that opens the exhibition.

“For me it is a privilege to be able to bring them together. And it is something that I do with the sole purpose that people from A Coruña, Galicians, Spaniards, and travelers from anywhere in the world who visit this wonderful land, can freely enjoy this exquisite exhibition that Peter prepared down to the last detail before his untimely demise,” it added.

Lending your unquestioning support, Marta Ortega not only puts the city where she lives and works, A Coruña, on the map, but, as the organizers say, maintains “the ambition of bringing world-class culture to the region, while promoting the rich Galician cultural spirit throughout the world”.

To show your personal commitment to this project, the opening of the exhibition brought Marta Ortega out of her voluntary withdrawal from the spotlight, not once but twice. First, acting as a guide for authorities such as Alberto Núñez Feijoo, president of the Xunta de Galicia; Inés Rey, mayor of La Coruña and José Miñones, delegate of the Government in Galicia. She was accompanied by Benjamin Lindbergh, the photographer’s son and director of the Lindbergh Foundation, which is responsible for safeguarding the legacy of the German photographer, who “broke stereotypes in fashion photography.”

Peter Lindbergh Untold-stories in A Coruña, supervised by the Peter Lindbergh Foundation.

Peter Lindbergh “Untold-stories” in A Coruña, supervised by the Peter Lindbergh Foundation.

Mathieu Ridelle.

And then, as the hostess of a party attended by many of Lindbergh’s international celebrities, such as the models Naomi Campbell and Jon Kortajarena and the actress Rossy de Palma, and other names from the world of fashion, art, cinema and architecture, such as the designer Pierpaolo Piccioli, current creative director of Valentino (and author of the dress of girlfriend of Marta Ortega), the Italian director Luca Guadagnino, the architect Vincent Van Duysen or the art and antiques dealer Axel Vervoor.

All of them, and the hundreds of thousands of anonymous visitors who have visited the exhibition, They were able to see a total of 152 photographs that Lindbergh selected, among more than 600, as the best of his forty-year career. There are well-known ones, and also unpublished ones, because they had never seen the light of day until now.

Before he died, Peter Lindbergh personally curated his Untold Stories exhibition.

Before he died, Peter Lindbergh personally curated his exhibition “Untold Stories.”

Mathieu Ridelle

The exhibition testified to “how his work removed the traditional foundations of fashion photography, at a time when excessive photographic retouching was given” to show reality as it is. Lindbergh rebelled against the obsession with airbrushed images of women, and his work “continues to exert enormous influence and impact on the world of fashion today.”

There is not celebrities that he would not want to pose in front of the lens of “one of the most influential contemporary photographers in the world”. They have done Penélope Cruz, Milla Jovovich, Nicole Kidman, Rosalía, among many other international figures.

The profits from the sale of merchandising will go to the project Future Stories of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Pontevedra (University of Vigo), to support young creators at the beginning of their artistic career.

After the success of the exhibition, which ends with more than 100,000 visitors, the Port Authority, which has already expressed its intention to give continuity to these facilities, intends to continue organizing events, exhibitions and other types of cultural activities, announcing that this is only the start.

And now it has been known that Marta Ortega herself will follow behind, so that this firm commitment to culture is not the flower of a few months, to keep alive that commitment to her city and to the future of young people.

With her appointment as president of Inditex, Marta Ortega joins the very select club of women in the management leadership of IBEX-35 companies such as Ana Botín, (Santander), María Dolores Dancausa (Bankinter), Beatriz Corredor (Red Eléctrica de España) and Cristina Ruiz (Indra). But it seems that, in projects like this one that unite her two passions, fashion and Galicia, she has found a seed to grow her own leadership style: cultural, sustainable, discreet and with “ñ” from A Coruña .

“The emblematic exhibition is now leaving A Coruña after having contributed, without a doubt, to the rich cultural panorama of Galicia”, comments a video with which the organizers give thanks from the exhibition’s website. “A story that will continue”. There is no doubt.

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