Half a century of Spanish fashion revealing the enormous potential of our most prominent creators.
The power of opinion—and particularly bloggers in this context—can even prevail over reviews by the professional media, and fashion labels are forced to pay attention on all fronts.
Fashion design is no longer about making clothes. It means selling a style and image, creating a brand, making the right contacts, and being seen everywhere. It means convincing everyone that, amidst the deluge of options that surface each day, yours is the most valid—the one that best meets the needs of a public that is very alert to everything going on around them.
Image: A design by Burgos-born Amaya Arzuaga, 2013 National Fashion Award.
Cristobal Balenciaga, 1964
In Spain, Balenciaga sold his creations under his Eisa label, which was available in boutiques in San Sebastian (from 1919), Madrid (1933), and Barcelona (1935). Later, in 1936, he made the leap to Paris.
The designer was a steady source of inspiration for Spanish fashion houses, as he was for all French couturiers.
The apparent simplicity of this dress reveals traits that are typical of Balenciaga. Not only is it tight-fitting, the outline is formed of a structure that seems to be independent from the body it covers, as though were a separate piece of sculpture.
It was not in vain that Balenciaga once commented to Diana Vreeland, “A woman has no need to be perfect or even beautiful to wear my dresses; the dress will do all that for her.”
As department stores became more established, Spain succumbed to the miniskirt in time with the legs of the Spanish actress and singer, Marisol. She was a living image of an entire generation of timidly rebellious youngsters. The skimpy garment was one of the most prolific symbols of liberalization of the political regime, although the psychedelic culture that inspired the print of this dress struggled to take hold in the country.
Juliá Isaura, 1970
Over six decades, the designer Juliá Isaura dressed Madrid’s aristocracy, following a strict tradition of haute couture. Towards the end of her career, she took pride in never having lowered the level of her clientele, meaning her creations never lost their luxurious aire.
This dress, made in her later career, shows how the designer managed to incorporate the trends of the 1970s, such as nude tones and a tunic-style cut.
The figure that best represented this period in Spain was Sybilla Sorondo Myelzwynska, creator of the Sybilla and Jocomomola labels. Her work made a significant contribution to contemporary fashion through its originality and technical perfection, which at times led critics to associate her work with that of Cristóbal Balenciaga.
Amaya Arzuaga, 2009
Burgos-born Amaya Arzuaga will go down in history as the first Spanish designer to present her prêt-à-porter collection at London Fashion Week in 1997, shortly after her career began. This speaks to the Spanish designer’s renowned vocation for the avant-garde, meshing with deconstructive trends from Japan which were then taken up in Europe by the Belgians and the Dutch.
Chus Basaldúa, 1968
This design by Chus Basaldúa has an A-line skirt and full waistband with a detailed embroidered trim of glass beads, crystals, gemstones, pink beading, and gray sequins. The long, white silk-serge skirt falls to the feet at the front and has a slight train at the back. It is made of three interlined pieces.
Fashion in Spain: contemporary designers making their mark
Curator: Juan Gutierrez