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The flamenco dress, an Andalusian classic that evolves with fashion

The flamenco dress, an Andalusian classic that evolves with fashion

 


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AFP-Relaxnews

Published


April 21, 2024

Luis Fernández's workshop in Seville's old town is packed with customers who come to try on his dazzling range of flamenco dresses, their vibrant fabrics bursting with voluptuous ruffles and polka dots.

Flamenco fashion reaches its annual peak in spring when towns in the southern region of Andalusia in southern Spain hold their annual week-long ferias, when everyone dons their finery to go out, eat, drink and dance until the early hours.

One of our clients is Virginia Cuaresma. Under the watchful eye of the designer, pins ready to make necessary adjustments, she stands before the mirror in a traditional midnight blue dress, ruffles adorning the skirt and sleeves.

She then tries one in aquamarine, paired with an embroidered fringed shawl in the same color. Next, a more modern style red dress, which leaves a lot of skin on display.

“Right now, everything is in chaos, we are at eye level. These are the last fittings” before the customers come back to collect their dresses “and enjoy the feria,” Fernandez told AFP, referring to this southern city. prestigious fair which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors and takes place this year from April 14 to 20.

The most traditional design, dating back over 100 years, is a floor-length dress, fitted closely at the thigh, with a ruffled skirt and matching ruffles on the sleeves.

To complete the dress, women accessorized, wearing a fringed shawl around the shoulders, earrings and bracelets, their hair pulled up in a bun and pinned with a single flower comb in an ensemble that became the image of Andalusia and even used abroad. as a symbol of Spain.

“The flamenco dress brings out the most beautiful in a woman,” explains Fernandez, pointing out the wide neckline and the “hourglass silhouette” that emphasizes the contrast between the slim waist and hips and the bust, in a “very flattering” style and makes the wearer “beautiful”.

“When I choose a dress to go to the fair, I look for something that will highlight my feminine figure,” explains Cuaresma, a 34-year-old geographer with a dark complexion and long dark hair.

For her, dressing up for the feria is a way to “continue Andalusian traditions” and connect with her late grandmother Virginia, who sewed flamenco dresses when she was a child.

– An evolution of style –

A native of Seville who grew up loving the fair, Fernandez began working as a designer in 2012 alongside fellow fashion designer Manuel Jurado, and from the start he knew he wanted to make flamenco dresses.

For him, it is a unique regional costume “which evolves with fashion and the only one which integrates new trends”, he affirms with pride.

The garment has its roots in the so-called “majo” costumes “worn by the working class” in Spain in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and often depicted in the paintings of the Spanish master Goya, explained anthropologist Rosa Maria Martinez Moreno, who wrote a book called “El Traje de Flamenca (“The Flamenco Dress”).

With the start of the Seville fairs in the mid-19th century, the style began to be adopted by the wealthy classes at a time when there was a backlash against all things French, including its aristocratic fashions.

Added to this were the clothes of the gypsy women who sold donuts at the fair and who wore dresses and skirts decorated with ruffles.

In the 20th century, flamenco dress evolved into its current form and became popular, largely due to the growth of flamenco as an art form and the expansion of schools teaching this Andalusian dance form, which Women often learn to perform at fairs. » said Martínez Moreno.

Image of Spain

In the 1960s, the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco set out to “sell Spain as a tourist attraction” and, to do so, used “popular stereotypes” such as the flamenco costume which “began to be recognized as the image of Spanishness” abroad, she said. adds.

In recent years, Andalusian dress has inspired major designers such as Christian Dior, who presented a new collection in 2022 at the emblematic Plaza de Espana in Seville.

Fernandez says the Seville sector has become professionalized with designers who follow “the trends of Paris and Milan” and who have organized an international flamenco fashion show in the city every year since 1995.

An outfit from a workshop like the one Fernandez runs can cost anywhere from several hundred euros to more than a thousand euros.

But there are cheaper options available today, in an age where fashion has become more accessible.

That's a relief for women like Cuaresma, who says she usually buys “at least” one flamenco dress every year because for the fair, or at least on opening day, “we don't like repeat” the same outfit worn in the previous ones. years.

Copyright 2024 AFP-Relaxnews. All rights reserved.

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