Spotlight on Spain
On the European fashion stage, Spain has historically played something of a supporting role to the French, Italians and Brits. However, the land that gave us Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Antonio Banderas and Rafael Nadal did also produce Manolo Blahnik, Paco Rabanne and Balenciaga! And, in recent years, some fabulous new names have emerged onto the scene whose designs display a flambuoyant flair that is unique to the Spaniards and super stylish.
Our Iberian favourite five
With its gorgeous use of primary colours, stripes and checks, El Ganzo is brightening up wardrobes and lives throughout Europe. A small family company established in Madrid in 2004, it’s not surprising that its distinctive designs can now be found in ten different countries (with Paris and London already boasting five and four stores, respectively).
The company’s signature is ‘classic and cheeky’ – think preppy with pizzazz. A traditional blazer has a splash of colour on the collar, a beautiful navy work dress will have an interesting design twist and vibrant stripes are incorporated at every opportunity – on sneakers, belts, sweaters and on men’s braces, which the company is reinventing. Many of El Ganso’s designs have a Britishness about them, but exude Euro-chic and, refreshingly, every one is both designed and manufactured in Europe.
You'd be forgiven for believing Massimo Dutti to be Italian, not just because of the name, but owing to its similarity to leading luxury labels such as Loro Piana, Armani and Max Mara.
Like the aforementioned, Massimo Dutto favours sophisticated, neutral tones and is known for its excellent quality and design details, but is positioned in a slightly lower price bracket. It also uses only completely natural fabrics.
And, as if we needed any more reason to love this company, it is one of the major sponsors of the Global Champions Tour annual show jumping series.
This highly desirable brand dates back to 1872, when craftsman Enrique Roessberg Loewe and his team of artisans established one of the world’s first luxury houses in Madrid, under his name. They were soon official purveyors to the Royal Court and their sumptuous leather luggage and accessories have remained true to the label’s heritage ever since.
Loewe has since diversified, with a seasonal ready-to-wear collection for both men and women, but the iconic Amazona bag, debuted over forty years ago, remains its biggest seller and high on our lust list.
Loewe is to the Spaniards what Hermes is to the French: the crème-de-la-crème of luxury leather, with no need to shout about it – their branding is beautiful and beautifully subtle.
Having stepped into his father’s shoes in the early ‘70s to run the family’s boutique in the Galician city of Ourense, Adolfo Dominguez went on to create his own designs and become something of a pioneer in Spanish fashion. His Madrid store, opened in the ‘80s, was the first in Spain to share the name of its designer and he inspired others to follow suit. Adolfo Dominguez soon became a chain of shops throughout Spain and began to launch overseas.
With the belief that clothing should be our second skin, worn with pleasure and ease, Dominguez creates relaxed sophistication with his beautifully cut designs and high quality fabrics. With a lifelong love of linen, his menswear was epitomized in 1980s Miami Vice – his were the linen suits and crisp white shirts worn by Don Johnson and other cast members in the series.
Still headquartered in Madrid and retaining its Spanish essence, Adolfo Dominguez is celebrated the world over for simple sophistication. And this label also represents fashion with a conscience – in 2007, the designer made a commitment to eco sustainability and joined the Climate Project, attending a conference for Spanish Leaders in Climate Change, led by Al Gore. He has also produced a jewellery collection inspired by four endangered species - the lynx, kiwi, armadillo and whale – the proceeds of which go to the World Wildlife Fund.
For those of us who keep a selection of espadrille staples in our perennial summer wardrobes, castaner.com should be a bookmarked favourite! This is the company that Yves St Laurent turned to in the early ‘70s to create the very first wedge espadrille and the family has been crafting ‘alpargatas’ since the 18th Century.
Quintessentially Spanish, espadrilles are believed to have been worn around 4,000 years ago and were, historically, the footwear of Spain’s peasants. How far the humble rope-sole has come! Nearly every luxury label you can think of has produced its own version of this summer classic, but there is something strangely satisfying about acquiring them from their source.
Castañer favours a gorgeous, muted colour palette and classic designs, many with that sexy ankle wrap that never goes out of style.
Alas, there are a few parts of the world that Castaner don't currently ship to, including Australasia, but they assure us that is soon to change.