English touch tends to fare extremely well in Spanish fashion, often blossoming into things of remarkable beauty. The cross-channel magic was on full display in the Spring-Summer 2017 collection by Ulises Mérida, presented on September 17 at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid, which is wrapping up today.
Ulises Mérida, the designer with the enigmatic first name hails from Toledo – an equally enigmatic town with a long and riveting history. The first things of his new collection to catch my eye were the shoes:
Woven metallic sheen leather bluchers by Angel Infantes for Ulises Mérida SS17 backstage at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid.
The gorgeous, woven leather “bluchers” in metallic silver and purplish blue were designed by Ulises Mérida in collaboration with a highly distinguished Spanish dress shoes maker Angel Infantes.
Bluchers are casual, masculine style lace-up shoes with open lacing – meaning that the eyelet flaps are a continuation of the upper part of the shoe as opposed to being a separate detail stitched over and across, like they would be in an Oxford, a dressier formal shoe. Ulises Mérida paired the bluchers with asymetric dresses, flowing tunics, and classic crop pants in gauzy, shimmering fabrics.
The shoes were not the only eye-catching accessory. The over-sized irregularly shaped leather clutches also stood out:
Stunning oversized jewelry imitating sea-washed glass was designed by Kiko Contreras.
The bluchers, explains the designer, symbolized comfort and practicality that English fashions are noted for. Blucher is an informal shoe, originally created for the countryside, but with a nod to propriety – a feature that is seldom absent from English design. (Unless the lack of propriety is the actual point of the exercise, then it’s no holds barred). Spanish shoe designers embrace the practicality and propriety mantra, but make it their own by softening and relaxing the look, while also infusing it with a uniquely Spanish artistic sensibility. This is done through sumptuous leather finishes, a brighter color palette, and ingenious craftsmanship, like the woven leather technique used by Angel Infantes (and other Spanish shoe brands, most notably Pons Quintana and Farrutx).
Here are some other Made in Spain bluchers that I love:
“Dover” blucher with metallic reptile print leather detailing by Ana Matt.
Ana Matt is a young, but accomplished Spanish designer who takes the English touch further than anyone else in Spain. Her take on the classic English footwear designs is gutsy and glamorous, Elton John style.
Marine blue suede bluchers with white contrast trim and grosgrain laces by Uttu Shoes.
Raffia bluchers by Las Bailarinas Shoes (see post here).
These last bluchers are no longer made, as Las Bailarinas Shoes, very unfortunately, seems to have close down. I’m kicking myself for not ordering them back when they were still available. They are simply exquisite. This is a classic example of Spanish designers making good English design their own, and how! It is a total fantasy shoe, yet absolutely real and wearable. I hope that someone will take up the torch from Las Bailarinas and make these delicate, lacy bluchers again.
Uttu Shoes is relatively new (at least to me). I hope that the company will go on happily making their great suede bluchers with grosgrain ribbon laces. I definitely want to get a pair (my size is currently out on their website). They are polished, but not formal, very versatile, not outright sporty, but not too girly either, being originally a masculine shoe. In short, it’s relaxed urban chic, my favorite style.
As for Angel Infantes and Ulises Mérida, of all the great fashion collections presented this past week at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid their Spring-Summer 2017 collection is hands down my favorite. The cool, mystical blues and soft, warm whites whisk you away on an imaginary sea voyage from the stormy northern seas to the clear waters of the Mediterranean. At the end you emerge softened, with a mind washed clean of heavy thoughts, like a piece of glass mellowed by the tides. English touch, Spanish soul – another winning fashion story Made in Spain.