Valencia is not only the third largest city in Spain, it’ is also an important center of fashion and culture. Twice a year it hosts Valencia Fashion Week – an event that showcases Valencia designers with contributions from all across Spain and even Italy. The most influential current designer that hails from the city is Francis Montesinos.
Highlights from his FW2014-15 collection were featured in Spanishoegallery‘s latest piece on Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid (see post here).
Francis Montesinos‘ career in fashion spans forty years. His first store in the Caballeros street in Valencia was a must for all celebrity visitors to Valencia, both Spanish (singers Lola Flores and Camarón) and international (Bo Derek, Demi Moore). The designer’s open and inventive approach to fashion gained him notice during the cultural liberation of the 80s that was centered on Madrid (one of the leaders of this movement was Agatha Ruiz de la Prada). Then came the collaborations with film and theater.
Montesinos designed the wardrobe for the protagonists of Pedro Almodovar‘s famous 1986 movie “Matador”, an erotic thriller in which a killing-obsessed ex-toreador meets his match in a beautiful criminal lawyer. Together they play out their mutual fascination with death to the full. The movie plot has a fashion industry reference, so the contribution of a real fashion designer was very fitting. Montesinos says that his studio sent out thirty boxes with costumes for the movie.
The ex-torero and an aspiring model: Nacho Martínez and Eva Cobo in “Matador”.
Photo source: cranesareflying1.blogspot.com
The victorious rival who also wins the fashion war: Assumpta Serna plays a murderous lawyer in “Matador”, while wearing a silk dress by Francis Montesinos.
Photo source: www.allocine.fr
Serna in the “Matador” wearing another dramatic Montesinos creation.
Photo source: www.traveler.es
Deadly passion in style: “Matador” directed by Pedro Almodóvar, costume design by Francis Montesinos.
Photo source: forum.krstarica.com
The disgruntled party played by Eva Cobo doesn’t know what’s worse: being dead or being spurned by her lover.
Dress: Francis Montesinos
Photo source: mumblepeg.tumblr.com
Another prominent Valencian designer is Dolores Cortés whose swimwear brand has been coming up with quality playful and feminine swimwear for women since the 50s. Dolores Cortes is a respected player on the international swimwear scene. See the post about Dolores Cortes at Miami Swim Fashion Week SS2014 here.
Photo source: www.dolores-cortes.com, www.metrovelvet.com
Dolores Cortés concept store is located at calle Conde Salvatierra, 5 in downtown Valencia.
Of course, to the south of Valencia, in the Alicante region, which is part of the Valencian Community (Communitat Valenciana) are Elda and Elche, the two big hubs of the Spanish shoe making industry. They are home to brands like Lola Cruz, directed by Maria Jesús Gozalbo who in 2009 was named the Valencian Community woman entrepreneur of the year, Paloma Barceló that collaborated with Dolores Cortés at the Miami Swim Fashion Week in July 2013, Paco Herrero, Paco Gil, and many others that we feature in this blog.
Lola Cruz pumps, currently on display in our main gallery. To buy, click on the image above.
Paloma Barceló “Larina”strappy triple-platform in taupe, also currently displayed in our main gallery. Available to buy at a great price through the main gallery at www.spanishoegallery.com/gallery or by clicking on the image above.
Valencia proper has a very strong and flourishing artisan tradition. The city is home to a world-class silk weaving industry that produces exquisite silks that are still widely used for religious and cultural events, such as the Fallas (see post here). The beginnings of this industry go back to the 15th century, to just after 1492, in fact, when the fall of the last Muslim kingdom of Granada initiated the decline of the silk growing and weaving industry of which Muslims were the experts.
The Valencian silk makers consider themselves the heirs of the Muslim silk weaving tradition.
The holder of this tradition is the “Colegio del Arte Mayor de la Seda” (“The College for the Higher Silk Arts”), which conserves some specimens of historical importance while continuing to actively produce amazingly beautiful intricately embroidered silk cloths for the traditional dress makers in Valencia and beyond. It is housed in a building dated back to 1492, at calle Hospital, 9.
The impressive looking building is in the need of restoration.
I doubt that they still use the same machines, but it’s great to see them so lovingly conserved.
In 2012 the College registered a trademark to protect the name and reputation of Valencian silk textiles. They celebrated with a fashion show of traditional Valencian dress made of the silk produced by the College. Now we can see where the materials for the beautiful dresses worn by the falleras come from.
The College also has its own gift shop called Espai Seda, located at the same address, where you can buy smaller silk items. A great place for souvenirs!
Valencia has numerous businesses that specialize in making the dresses, the mantillas (lacy head coverings), hair accessories, stockings, and, of course, shoes for the Fallas and other traditional popular and private events.
One of the most sought-after suppliers of the 18th century type shoes that are used during Fallas is Sole Piel, located at calle Aluders, 2. Solepiel also makes “made to measure” shoes for a variety of other occasions.
Photo sources: pintesipalets.blogspot.com, www.solepiel.es, www.yelp.es
Finally, Valencia is where Vicente Gracia, one of the word’s top jewelers, makes his treasured masterpieces. His art is intimately connected with his native’s town relationship with the silk trade and inspired by the intermingling of the cultures of East and West, the living proof of which is Valencia itself. One of Vicente Gracia’s crowning achievements was the creation of a necklace for Her Majesty the Queen of Spain, which was commissioned by the Valencian Chamber of Trade.
The editors of Vogue praised the art of Vicente Gracia placing him among the world’s top twenty jewelers. They noted Gracia’s top-notch craftsmanship and compared his work to visual poetry, stressing the designer’s deep spiritual connection to his work, as well as a quality they referred to as “Valencian joy“.
Vicente Gracia is a recipient of Spain’s National Jewelry Award and International Jewelry Prize of the city of Valencia. He is one of Christie‘s select jewelers, with private and institutional clientele of the highest caliber, both in Spain and internationally. His shop is located at Calle de la Paz, 4th Izquierda, Valencia.
A little example of Vicente Gracia’s “Valencian joy”:
Ens veiem a València!
(See you in Valencia!)