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 Style.com’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). Style.com 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 Española—The 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.