Thursday, 21 March 2013

Flamenco as Fashion Trend


With the flamenco festival in Jerez now over, the London Flamenco festival is now in full swing here and this week I've had the good fortune to be able to see some amazing shows!  It seems that even fashion is tapping into the mood with flamenco "trending" again this season.  Flamenco is associated with some awful stereotypes.  People often think of the naff outdated costumes not seen since the sixties and seventies, with their stiff frills, polka dots and huge billowy sleeves.  Flamenco is also often confused with other dance forms (tango, paso doble, salsa, mariachi and even can-can dancing just to name a few), but as a flamenco dancer I do have to laugh when the fashion industry tries its hand at a reinterpretation.  Here is what WhoWhatWear selected as "Flamenco" in their guide to the biggest looks for spring.

Source: WhoWhatWear

I can't imagine anything worse than to have to wear any of the above outfits to dance in and some of these concoctions are by designers I usually love.  Now I know this is all "influenced by" and not meant to replace an authentic flamenco dress to dance the real deal in but you'd be surprised how many people extrapolate the fashion version to the real version, rather than the other way around.  And God Almighty spare me from ever having to perform in anything like this:

Source: WhoWhatWear

Blecchhh! The only thing that would be any use to me would be the earrings.  You may laugh, but in the past I have been asked to wear rubbish like this on the odd job appearing as a flamenco dancer.  This sort of thing is usually foisted upon you by ignorant wardrobe stylists who have swallowed this fashionable idea of flamenco and then regurgitate it on you in some even nastier, cheaper format to be worn as a bona fide flamenco costume, thus further perpetuating the myth at large that we wear crazy get ups like this to perform in.

I've also seen women turn up for their first flamenco class in this type of clothing which is more suited to tangoing the night away at a milonga rather than sweating it out stamping.  Worse still, first timers sometimes turn up wearing stilettos which is just asking for a sprained ankle.  Feel free to try this kind of look at home or at a costume party - do not try this in a dance class, let alone on stage.  By the way, just to put the record straight, we don't dance in stilettos, or on tables, or with roses between our teeth, we don't usually dance with partners and red and black are not the only colours we wear!

If any of you based in the UK and have had the chance to see some of the shows at the London Flamenco Festival by younger upcoming artists you will see that flamenco costumes have evolved away from the more traditional styles into more contemporary designs, as has the art form - but you won't see anything quite as badly thought out as the WhoWhatWear suggestions.  So please WhoWhatWear!  Call that a flamenco dress? That's not a flamenco dress.  This is a flamenco dress!


It's not all bad though.  Flamenco was also a trend last summer but at least then it was a bit more grounded in the roots of Andalusian culture in which flamenco is steeped and I actually thought the looks served up were closer to the spirit of flamenco than the weird pastiche of frills, flowers, flounces and puffy sleeves being bandied about this season.

For me the first prize this season for a beautifully done collection goes to Ralph Lauren who clearly drew inspiration from flamenco, bullfighting, traditional Spanish dress and dare I say, a bit of Argentinian gaucho thrown in as well.  Now I wouldn't dare dance in these clothes for fear of ripping such beauty to shreds but boy are some of these pieces to die for, the bolero jackets especially, and very flamenco I might add, capturing the drama of it all, if in a very luxurious and high end way.  All photos from Vogue.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Source of all photos: Vogue

Ralph Lauren is normally not a label on my radar (or within my budget!) but these are just beautiful clothes and I'd wear any of these pieces with pride!  One could say that the inspiration is perhaps too closely derivative as to be staid but I think the cut, the craftsmanship and attention to detail of these clothes are simply stunning and very elegant.  Ole!  Elements of this collection would actually be a source of inspiration for me when I next go to get a real flamenco costume made.  More of the Ralph Lauren collection can be seen here at the Vogue site.

Linking up to Visible Monday over at Not Yet Dead Style!

24 comments:

  1. i much prefer your flamenco dress than the runway/magazine versions. Ralph Lauren is so beautiful, I largely ignore ny fashion week since I don't "get" the young designers, but I will always make a point to check out RL.

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  2. Insanely amazing outfits!! Let's keep in touch, follow me at:

    http://whosyourdowdy.blogspot.com/
    xo

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  3. I love your flamenco dress! I used to have a flamenco dance costume that my grandmother had made for my mom back in the 50s - it looked like yours! I had no idea it was actually authentic design.

    That Ralph Lauren collection is stunning! That orange velvet jacket makes me drool. I would wear any of those items (well, not the beret, I look hideous in them).

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  4. Your red dress is gorgeous!!! Those boleros in Vogue--- I would wear those everyday if I had them.
    Becky :)

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  5. Beautiful post- I love the contrast of the structured, beaded boleros with the soft flowing skirts. Just rewatched 'Strictly ballroom' recently, and I love the play of the mannered ballroom Pasodoble versus the delicious backyard authentic version. sigh.

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    1. haha! Yes that was one of my favourite movies - probably what got me going to flamenco classes in the first place! (The scenes of the backyard version that is!)

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  6. Oh those jackets! *sighs* They are incredible. I loved that red set, as you say almost too beautiful to wear! Our graphic designer at my work is a part-time flamenco dancer so I've been learning a bit more about it this year. I'd quite like to go to the Flamenco festival - I will have to ask if she is dancing there.
    And you look incredible in your flamenco dress!

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  7. Wonderful post - I got some further education about flamenco, and got to rest my eyes on the gorgeous Ralph Lauren pieces. The long floral dress is perfect for you!

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  8. You look fantastic! I am crazy about flamenco and the Spanish guitar. Crazy! In the 90's I did take lessons but it was clear early on I'm missing the musical gene that helps me count in 6's? But I would have gladly paid to just listen to the guitar playing and watching everyone dance.
    I adore the RL collection - really beautiful and would love to wear any of those pieces.

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  9. Ooh, the RL collection is absolutely gorgeous!..especially the white dress! I learn so much from your posts! :)

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  10. I love how strictly Ballroom got you into flamenco! I love that film (and the boleros)
    Your dress is beautiful and I'd kill for that short sleeved embellished jacket, it looks rather Bollywood! x

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  11. Oh, the real dress is spectacular! And I love the proper shoes; that's one flamenco trend I wish would filter down, because I could actually wear the heck out of those.

    The RL collection is wonderful. I've got some lovely RL stuff, but it's all come from either TK Maxx or thrift shops; I wouldn't even dream of buying it retail, alas.

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  12. What a completely gorgeous post, with you gorgeous in it! Happy London Flamenco Festival. Lovely to be able to overindulge on one's passion, especially if it makes you lithe and happy. Are you performing or playing audience? It's something you'll be able to do all of your life, isn't it?

    Does Flamenco include fans? I've got a large collection of fans, all of them practical and a variety of colors. I carry one every time I leave the house. It isn't just an affectation. I started during hot flash time, and still depend on them ... it was over 115 here last summer. Most are Asian style, but I know Spain has a wonderful design tradition there.

    Have so much fun that you'll never forget any of it!

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  13. I love your dress! I was thinking about taking flamenco lessons befor I left Kyiv) Not for the clothes, but because I really love the power of flamenco))

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  14. I've always loved a proper flamenco dress, and yours is my romantic ideal :) Stunning photos of you dancing my dear. So evocative of the dance, and the passionate history behind it. But like you, I enjoyed seeing s flamenco influence in the Ralph Lauren collection - it will never be in my price range, but the inspiration to create similar looks from my already bulging wardrobe is free, yay!

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  15. Your dress is absolutely gorgeous! I can just imagine you dancing in the dress! One of my old flat mates used to Tango and her sister did Flamenco, they did talk about first timers and style of dressing. I'm quite a fan of bolero styled pieces and adore the embellished jacket. :)

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  16. Wow! Such a beautiful trend:)

    http://theprintedsea.blogspot.de/

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  17. Love your red dress too! and boleros are always part of my wardrobe!

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  18. Those red shoes at the top of the post have me weak at the knees! I have been to Spain and seen Flamenco firsthand so I can relate to your perspective. As I've gotten older I've distanced myself from lots of ruffly, frilly embellishments but a good cropped jacket like the black and gold RL piece looks good on just about anybody - including me ;-)

    Spashionista (Alicia)

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  19. I love your red dress. I love Flamenco dance so much and I want desperately to lean it. One day...when I have a bit of free time or I win the lottery I will do so.

    I agree that those styles in the top portion of your feature do not represent authentic Flamenco style. When I was belly dancing, I had to laugh at the clothing that lower end belly dance suppliers were passing as authentic belly dance wear!

    The Ralph Lauren pieces are GORGEOUS with a capital G. My favorite: the last dress...the beautiful white dress with the single red flower....sublime.

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  20. Your red Flamenco dress is absolutely breathtaking. As are the Ralph Lauren designs. Stunning post!

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  21. Love reading your posts, I am educated. And you are Flamenco Fire in that red dress.

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  22. Thanks for this post. It's always annoying when fashion takes a real culture and uses it as a label for something barely related, so interesting to have your explanation!

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