Juana Martín celebrates the courtyards of Córdoba and her gitano roots
On a morning when the temperatures of the Parisian winter plunged below zero, designer Juana Martín filled the fourth day of the French capital's Haute Couture Week with spring. Every May, the Courtyards Festival takes place in Córdoba, where the facades of the city's historic Moorish-inspired buildings participate in a beauty contest with colourful flowers planted in beds and pots hung from the walls. It was this festivity that inspired Martín's collection, "Les cours de ma maison," with which the Andalusian designer aimed to pay homage to her roots and her hometown.
Echoing with a soundtrack of flamenco songs and quejíos, the Spanish Embassy in Paris hosted a contemporary Andalusian fashion show, dominated by the classic layering of generous frills, seen on sleeves, wide skirts and even shoulder pads. These volumes were also worked into dramatic necklines and puff sleeves, sharing the catwalk with more contemporary looks that reinterpreted tradition with wide palazzo pants, skirts layered over lace and even two-piece suits, for young flamenco dancers with a more masculine spirit.
The Courtyard Festival's emblematic flowers and plants were represented in prints and appliqués embroidered by Manuela Romero, whose intensely green ivy seemed to be taking over one loose white outfit. Flowers could also be seen in dazzling lace looks, fitted black transparent ensembles and reinterpretations of classic Manila shawls. Polka dots, so prominent in Andalusian culture, appeared on black and white pieces, such as a clear mini-dress worn by cordobesa model Águeda López,while other silhouettes were dominated by relaxed pastel shades.
Accessories, especially those worn on the models' heads, played a starring role, ranging from bride-worthy veils with trains to lace hoods and spectacular floral headdresses by Seville's Tolentino. The icing on the cake was provided by Almodóvar muse Rossy de Palma, who was tasked with closing the show, sheathed in a sparkling black dress. The actress, who only hours before had walked at Jean Paul Gaultier's last Haute Couture show, was accompanied by Rosalía's "Di mi nombre" as she danced the flamenco.
"I'm the only gitana in the world of fashion," stated Martín, who was visibly emotional after the show. Since her debut at Madrid Fashion Week in 2005, the designer has shown at specialised events, such as Simof – Seville's international trade fair for flamenco fashion – and Valmont Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week. Now, however, Paris is the brand's priority. "It took us a few years to get here, and this is the fifth show that we've done in France. For us, it's our big commitment," said Martín.
When asked, in light of this commitment, why she is still based in Madrid, the designer answered, "I somehow felt that that I had to be there," and recalled her first runway show in Paris, to which she travelled in a van stuffed full of her looks. "I felt that, in some way, I was hiding my culture and my roots. 'No,' I said to myself. It's what I know how to do and what I like doing," she continued, going on to explain that abroad "not only is the concept valued, it's also understood." Ultimately, she sees the flamenco of Camarón de la Isla that so inspired her designs as, above all, a universal language. The designer has no doubts about her objectives: "I want to be Juana, creating my flamenco, my world, my values and my traditions." And that's exactly what her shows do.
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