Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Glory Of Spanish Dress

So, should we return to Spain for a bit? To backtrack a little, our trip actually began in San Francisco last summer at "Balenciaga and Spain" at the de Young museum.

The exhibit's exploration of the influence of the Spanish masters, religious life, dance, the royal court, bull fighting and regional dress on the legendary designer left me wanting more of the country of Velazquez and Goya, of The Sun Also Rises and Flamenco, of Gothic splendor and Moorish influence.


 Balenciaga Infanta Dress illustrated by Eric (Carl Erickson) Vogue 1939

The Infanta Margarita in Las Meninas by Valezquez

Balenciaga Infanta Dress, 1939

We were actually supposed to go to Bhutan this year, but I fell down on the job of planning that adventure. So when I asked Mr. H. where he might want to go instead, I was thrilled when he said Spain!

Cardinal Luis Maria de Borbon y Vallabriga, Goya

 Balenciaga Red Coat 1951

 Balenciaga Show 1951

Before we knew it, the reservations were made, bags were packed and off we went. We spent hours gazing at the Goyas in the Prado, inspecting the Baroque and Gothic splendor of churches and cathedrals, wandering through the narrow streets of Andalusia, staring up at the brightly painted facades.

But where art, fashion, music and culture really came together for me was in a Sevilla taverna where we went to see Flamenco.

 Balenciaga Studio Drawing

It was like watching John Singer Sargent's El Jaleo come to life.

El Jaleo, John Singer Sargent

And as the dancers stomped and whirled, I didn't just see vintage Balenciaga couture...

Balenciaga Summer 1951

I saw the polka dots and lace that have been so predominant on Fashion Week runways in recent seasons. 

 Balenciaga Summer 1964

Dennis Oulds/Central Press/Getty Images

Oscar de la Renta

I saw the fluttering layers of chiffon in the Oscar de la Renta dress my friend Dana wore to her 40th birthday party.

Dana's Party Dress

It made me want to take a few Flamenco lessons and buy some castanets and something from the Oscar de la Renta resort collection.

Oscar de la Renta 

By the way, if you're craving a little Spanish inspiration but can't travel quiet that far, you can catch "Joaquin Sorolla and the Glory of Spanish Dress" at the Queen Sophia Spanish Institute. The exhibition, which runs from December 8 to March 10, celebrates, in the words of chairman Oscar de la Renta, "Spain its people, its landscape, and life."

Flamenco Dancer, Joquin Sorolla

It's a place that I think will be influencing me for years to come.


  1. Lovely piece inspired by a favorite country of mine. Beautiful couture shots! Spain is a great country indeed. I spent all my summers there (mainly in the Northern region of Catalunia) while growing up in France and still go whenever I get a chance to visit old Europe. Thank you for this. Some of these dresses are to die for! -- Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  2. Oh Veronique! How lucky you are to have spent summers in beautiful Spain, it's such an amazing place! I feel like we just scratched the surface when we were there... Which means we'll have to go back!

  3. Love Balenciaga....that would easily get me planning a trip to Spain! I've never been and it's on the list. Somewhere between Harry Potter at Disney and visiting our families! But, we'll get there...and I'll remember this post!

    xo Elizabeth

  4. This post would get me planning a trip to Spain "ahora"! We caughtthe Balenciage retrospective in Paris a couple of years ago and were completely enchanted by his elegant designs... Hope the hustle and bustle of the holiday season hasn't erased your vacation calm!

  5. I could add a few more ruffles and polka dots to my wardrobe. :)

  6. I adore Spain! My parents are both from Portugal and whenever we go there we always venture to Spain! Such a beautiful country with a wonderful history and culture!

  7. We should all own castanets, what an inspiring post! J~ will you please send me your mail address, ebh@splendidmarket.com, have to send you something. xo

  8. OMG I love your "About me" and your blog is great! These photos and drawings of gowns are just divine!

  9. What a gorgeous post. I just googled the Sorolla painting after seeing it in Vogue, and came across your blog. I love it. Keep on inspiring us!



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