It's mere coincidence that Emilio de la Morena
was born in Alicante, the same Spanish province where Cristobal Balenciaga died in 1972. Nevertheless, the legendary couturier cast such a giant shadow that, for years, De la Morena thought the only way to establish his own signature was to consciously resist anything that smacked of "Spanishness" in his own work. But for his first Pre-Fall collection, the designer finally saw the light—or rather, the dark. His twenty looks ran the gamut from flamenco to corrida, in a palette built on black with accents of red and blue, and all the ruffled, lacy, polka-dotted trimmings. The fitted hip and flaring skirt of the flamenco dancer and the shoulder-hugging definition of the toreador's bolero helped determine the silhouette. De la Morena abused the polka dot to great effect in prints that tore the spots apart and patched them back together so they were almost animalier. Or he oversized the dots on chunky artisanal hand-knits. They were an incongruous touch in a collection that was otherwise notable for its severe chic. The skirts that weren't flounced were pencil-linear. The blouses were bowed. If De la Morena has, until now, been best-known for his cocktail dresses, here he truly
embraced his heritage by painting a picture of a rigorously elegant Spanish señora.