September 3 2014

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What Made Balenciaga Balenciaga, And Other Intricacies of Spanish Fashion


In the annals of fashion history, certain countries (France, Italy, England, the U.S.) get their fair share of credit, and deservedly so. But the contributions of Spain are lesser known, even though the work of Spanish designers has been some of the most influential in history—think of Cristobal Balenciaga or the Lanvin couturier Antonio del Castillo. The new Geografía de la Moda Española gives them and their countrymen their due. Edited by Modesto Lomba, president of the Spanish Fashion Designers’ Association, and with a preface by’s Candy Pratts Price, the book pays tribute to the breadth of Spanish design and the ingenuity of Spanish designers, from the well enshrined (Mariano Fortuny) to the rising international stars (like Davidelfin’s David Delfín, or Juanjo Oliva, whose designs are pictured above). spoke to Lomba about the history and legacy of Iberian design.

Are there signatures of Spanish fashion?
Spanish designers have been using traditional elements as inspirations—the whole image of the torero, the bullfighter, or the folk elements of the region. But so have some international designers. Spanish fashion has a lot of history to support it, but fashion today is global. So Spanish fashion is influenced not only by its own history but also by other modern designers throughout the world. To go out of Spain is also important, but to have that basis of Spanish history, and the roots of Spanish design, makes it easier to be truly international.

The book is called Geografía de la Moda EspañolaThe Geography of Spanish Fashion. Are there significant regional differences throughout Spain, in terms of style?
Spain is very diverse. If you go, for example, to the south, designs are more ornamented; in the north, they are much simpler. That’s one of the reasons why Balenciaga favored such clean, linear design—it was, in part, because of where in Spain he was. Right now, the runway in Cibeles, in Madrid, that’s the one that represents the whole aesthetic of Spain. The runway in Barcelona is much more regional; it’s representing Cataluña. Right now, if, for example, a journalist wants to know what’s going on, it would be Madrid, and not Barcelona.

Are there areas where Spanish design is ahead of its international counterparts?
One of the things that might differentiate Spanish fashion from other leading countries is that, if you take somewhere like Italy, they’re focusing more on the big corporations and the big fashion brands. Spain is focusing more on the young talent. That support allows them to be more creative, really to explode their own creativity.

Photo: Juan Gatti for ACME



  1. Franpo says:

    Wow, poor Lomba. Really hard job to invent a Spanish style… from Madrid. And so sad, because after 30 years of much public money trying to create a “Moda de España” brand (in Paris or New York the fashion industry pays its shows) with international aspirations, all we have in fashion and style is… the Barcelona brand, the only image of Spanish (or only Catalan, Mr Lomba? and so who is secessionist here?) modernity, innnovation known overseas…even without the suport of “Spanish” politicians, mostly with their opposition (yes, believe it or not; just think about the meanness of Aznar). And do notice that Barcelona runway “is much more regional; it’s representing Cataluña”; well, in fact we don’t have a classical runway in Barcelona, so maybe is a honour to be considered that we have one. Exhilarating effort to secessionism from your part, Mr Lomba, whose creations can see the light year after year thanks to public money. On the other hand, yes we have had wonderful couturiers, not really known in other countries, as a result of 40 years of mediocre dictatorship. Balenciaga or Paco Rabanne had to go to France to be somebody, but in democracy many things have been done only on the surface.

  2. Diorable_wondaboy says:

    That garment is amazing!! How impossibly chic is that? My my.
    I’d love so see a proper couture line from Mr. Olivia.

  3. DENEGRO says:


  4. otomogang says:

    Franpo, I totally subscribe your comment, so refreshing point of view, I live in Barcelona.

  5. gisellegg says:

    Such an enjoyable post with reference to tradition, culture with fashion.

  6. jaumeuve says:

    I agree with Franpo, but in some different way. I´m from Barcelona, i work hard in our fashion industry. Spain is miles away from Italy or France, Belgium or U.K, We don´t have a real culture on fashion or style culture. Despite that Barcelona is an international reference for Architecture and Cuisine. Madrid catwalk use to be conventional and desesperedly bored and deep inside is a lie payed with our taxes. There are just, a few brands that had real sales, real stores or real distribution inside the country. It´s a shame that absolutely not interesting designers as the one mentioned above have public money for such non sense collections. On the other hand, Barcelona catwalk is not good at all, but , there are some designers as Martin Lamothe, absolutely ignored but our 95 % absolutely ignorant fashion media, that at least has something to say.
    Tell Lomba, Oliva, Daviddelfin, or any other from our celebrity fashion crew that send you a garment, and you´ll see that Balenciaga is our remote past…a real genius, growed up in Paris, never seen before and after. Just taking a look to the( oficial Cibeles – Madrid fashion week prize winner) best collection of summer 2010, and you´ll see how ridiculous is talking about Spanish fashion or Spanish style.
    ¿galliano? ¿ mcqueen?

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