Trendy Christmas Party: Seville’s Young Fashion Designer Scene

When Seville’s Fine Arts College expanded its fashion design and merchandising department, young designers came to its catwalk and state-of-the-art new building to pursue fashion degrees that extend far beyond the flamenco dresses that have become synonymous with the city’s moda.

An explosion of boutiques, gastrobars and DIY fashion trends have made the Alfalfa neighborhood Seville’s In Place to create and sell, dubbed by the New York Times as Seville’s Sohos. Young entrepreneurs are peddling wares – from vintage to crochet – out of pop up shops around Calle Perez Galdos and Calle Regina. Sevilla tiene una moda especial.

When Kate of Kate Mariela invited me to attend the first annual Trendy Christmas at Grand Luxe Hostal, hosted in part with Sevilla Trendy, I jumped at the chance to browse for Christmas gifts and meet some of the young designers. Grand Luxe, just steps off Seville’s most famous sites, played host to the event, which ran on the 13th and 14th of December. As Kate requested, Camarón came along to document all of the cool stuff for sale and their fun, young designers.

In each of the hostel’s spacious rooms, designers set up everything from brooches to boots, headbands to hangars. No less than 15 young diseñadores were invited by Kate Mariela and Sevilla Trendy to show, and Kate herself ran two workshops on each day, allowing guests to create fun DIY gifts for Christmas. I got there early, able to introduce myself to some of the designers. I debated what to wear, got a manicure (a bad one, regardless) and still showed up looking a fright, but when it came down to it, the showers were gracious and more than willing to help me style everything from what I’m wearing to a civil wedding next weekend to new accessories for my flamenco dress.

Here’s a peek at what Seville’s young, fashion-forward minds have come up with for the season (not all designers are pictured because I wasn’t able to take photos in all of the rooms):

helena moral (winner of the 2012 award for up-and-coming fashion designer). @hemoral. moralhelena@gmail.com.

Giorgia Stramare. stramarefulvia@liberto.it

Motoreta. Children’s line (adorbs!) out this March. moreta@moreta.es

Tocados Victoria Eugenia. tocadosvictoriaeugenia@gmail.com

Maggie Plumcake. maggieplumcake@blogspot.com

Tocados Vanesa Aslan

What’s more, Kate offered four talleres for excellent Christmas gifts. From Christmas cookies to decorated napkins, I chose to make a simple bracelet with enough sheen and texture to dress up even jeans.

After checking out all of the rooms and chatting with designers, my mission was clear – to find a statement piece for my dress for Alvaro’s wedding. Thanks to Kate Mariela, I’ve had tons of inspiration lately. I spotted a snazzy black beaded necklace from Designs for M and tried it on. The gorgeous piece was the right price, and I was helping a local designer who looked to be younger than me do what it is she loves and get paid for it.

That’s what it’s all about isn’t it?

Looking for a place to stay in Seville? Grand Luxe Hostel offers premium accommodation with excellent services and Seville’s best terrace view. Just off the main tourist road, you can expect a pleasant stay with all of the amenities for a great price.

I was a gracious guest of Kate Mariela, Sevilla Trendy and Grande Luxe Hostel, but all opinions expressed are my own. You can check out photos from the event by following the hashtag #trendyXmas, or follow the sponsors of Trendy Xmas: @katemariela @grandluxehostal @sevillatrendy.

Seville Snapshot: The Feria de Belén

One of my favorite Christmas traditions in Spain is the nativity scene, called a belén. It also happens to be my favorite Spanish name for a girl, though I wouldn’t name my daughter after the Little Town of Bethlehem.

Again, at the risk of sounding un-American, I don’t like Christmas, either.

But the belenes, a household nativity scene, fascinate me. Tiny villages  are constructed out of figurines taking the form of primitive buildings, the Holy Family and even working mills, crops and animals. My own family has the same nativity scene under our tree that we’ve had every year – plastic Holy Family with two faceless sheep, an ox, a plastic angel that balances on a nail up top. I once told my mother I’d do the Spanish tradition of buying one new piece each year, much like I did with my American Girl Doll years back.

Seville holds an annual Feria del Belén, a month-long set-up of small, artisan stands that sell all of these tiny cattle, baskets and shepherds.

Over the years, I’ve marveled at the small effigies and menagerie of barnyard animals, but my long-distance lens caught something quite by accident just last week: the Virgen Mary nursing.

Seville Snapshots: Bartering at the Plaza de España

The first (and one of very, very few) feeling I ever had of notoriety was from one Cassandra Gambill, who started following my blog way back before I knew theat people were actually reading. Naturally, I was thrilled when she chose to come to Spain a few years ago and blog about, so I gladly accepted her submission from her most recent trip to Seville.

Rediscovering Sevilla after a brief trip south in 2007, I had to rectify my image of this Andalusian town. When I had originally visited, preparations for the subway system left the city dirty and dusty. Whenever I saw photos of iconic Sevilla, I couldn’t recognize them as anything I’d seen, including the beautifully tiled Plaza de España.

Even though the day was overcast when I finally made it back to Sevilla, I immediately appreciated the grandeur and color of this sophisticated square. Speaking of color, there were plenty of local characters who also made the place a feast for the eyes and ears. In this corner alone there were lovey-dovey locals, backpacking-toting tourists, a scarf-and-abanico vendor, and a wandering woman hoping to plant rosemary sprigs on unsuspecting sightseers.

——–

Going on her third year in the Spanish capital, Cassandra Gambill is now working towards a Master’s in Bilingual Education at the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares. Her motto? Where there’s a will there’s a way, and where’s a puente, there’s a trip in the making.

 

You can follow Cassandra via her blog and twitter:

Blog: www.geecassandra.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/geecassandra

Seville Snapshots: Librería Babel and the Joy of Books

As anyone who has lived in Spain will know, a shop that carries the -ía at the end is a place that sells a certain kind of product.

A carnerceía sells meat, a papelería sells paper goods, though as Lisa hoped, a bar is not called a beerería, but a cervecería. Among my favorite -ias? The liberería, a place where books are stacked high and hours can be lost among the pages. I tend to avoid the big chains, like FNAC or Beta, and head to the small, musty, off-the-Avenida shops. Some of my preferred stops are Un Gato en Bicicleta on Calle Regina for its workshops and mountains of books, La Extravagante in the Alameda for its array of travel books and memoir and La Celestina near Plaza Santa Ana in Madrid.

When I can’t travel, books become my companion. I’m nearly finished with my 20th book of the year, and books about travel line my bookshelf, products of giveaways, the American Women’s Club sales and the evil one-click button on Amazon. This picture of Librería Babel, a forlorn little place right off the main tourist drag, still far enough to go unnoticed, reminds me of the Old World book, long before TV, Internet and e-readers became mainstays.

One great travel memoir I’ve read recently is Dancing In The Fountain: How to Enjoy Living Abroad by my fellow sevillana Karen McCann. She’s been gracious enough to give me a signed copy of the wonderfully breezy and fun book for my readers. Visit the original post for easy entrance, and be sure to follow her here.

What types of books do you prefer? Got any other scoops on bookstores in Andalucía? What are your prefered -ías in Spain?

Places with Encanto: Casa Hernanz Alpargateria

Calle de Toledo stretches from Madrid’s crowning Plaza Mayor all the way down a hill past La Latina’s churches and bars to the Glorieta de Toledo, where I first spent the night a weekend in Madrid. Alvaro and I hiked up and down that weekend as he took me to his favorite places for a caña-tapa.

I’ve spent countless days around the Plaza Mayor, snacking on bocadillos de calamares, browsing souvenir shops. In the quest to spend a few hours before the Novio came to meet me in Madrid, I climbed up Calle de Toledo, on my way to Mercado San Anton in Chueca. Remembering an article about shopping in Madrid, I was delighted to stumble across a Madrid institution, Casa Hernánz.

Wedged into a small workshop space just a block of Plaza Mayor, I peered in the windows showcasing the dozens of raffia-soled shoes, a popular folk style called espadrilles or alpargatas. Standing on my toes, I found a pair of beige ankle-strap sandals with a broad pink strap across the toes.

“You should take a picture to show at the mostrador,” the black-clad woman behind me said to her daughter. “This line is so long, you won’t even remember the style you want by the time you’re attended to. My company in line were two Americans with suitcases, a Crocs-wearing priest and an endless array of older madrileñas. I sighed and pulled out my smartphone, settling in for what was sure to be as long a wait as the bank.

The line inched along. To pass the time, I looked into the display windows immediately next to door which were lined with a rainbow of linos, the thin thread that used for the superior part of the shoe. The soles are made of esparto, a coarse, vegetable thread that is woven together and glued onto another thin rubber sole. The lino is then hand-sewn onto the sole, called the plantilla. This type of shoe is typical in many regional costumes, come in colors as diverse as salmon or turquoise, and are often made with ribbons that lace up the calf. I myself swear by them during the Feria, as they keep my feet cool during the long nights of dancing.

As I inched closer to the shop doors, the woman behind me tried sneaking in to sit on a long wooden bench opposite the counter, which stretched from one end of the workshop to the other. The priest put up his hand, a look of anger on his face. “Senora, I’ve been waiting in line all morning. Do. Not. Pass.”

She shrunk away, probably clutching a rosary, and cursed the priest. I couldn’t help but laugh. Now that I was within the door, straddling the hot street and the even hotter workshop, I was surrounded by shoes, fabrics and the plantillas, stuffed into bookshelves behind the counter. Some were bare, while others, separated according to size, already had the fabric attached. Shoes climbed up the wall, from finger-length baby sizes and on up. Even more styles than I’d seen outside were showcased in wire cases, and miles of different types of rope snaked across the counter. An old fashioned phone called in special orders por encargo and a woman attended to them, scribbling notes and measuring soles for whoever was on the other end of the line.

The priest was there for new alpargatas in a simple black style (good, throw those Crocs away, Padre!) and a white twisting cord for his robe. The two Americans opted for simple lace-up styles in royal blue, and I suddenly had Rosary Lady pushing me to the end of the counter.

The lady on the other side of the mostrador smirked at me. “Que querías?” I fumbled for the words, wishing I had snapped a shot of the sandals I’d been eyeing. I pointed to the baby shoes just behind me. “Um, my friend has a baby. He’s small. I want some of the shoes for him,” I managed.

“Well, how big is he? How old?” I can barely remember my own shoe size in Spanish, let alone Baby Jack’s, who I had never met. I got him Cubby Blue to make his parents happy and motioned to a white pair of strappy heels for my sister. When it came time to explain the ones I liked, she knew immediately and went to fetch them.

Phew.

In the end, my wide feet wouldn’t make it into the shoe, and I knew I couldn’t cram anything more into my bag. Between my sister’s tacones and little Jack’s shoes, I paid a mere 34€  - far less than the priest and his miles of cordón!

Casa Hernanz is located on Calle de Toledo, numbers 18-20, nestled just next to the sprawling Plaza Mayor. Hours are 9:00am -1:30pm and 4:30 – 8:00pm Monday through Friday, and Saturdays 10am – 2:00pm. Lines can get long, so be sure to arrive early. Products and services can be consulted on Casa Hernanz’s website.

I’m looking for ideas for two new categories for Sunshine and Siestas – Typical Espaneesh (think, the mid morning cafelito, carrito de compras or finquillo) and Places with Encanto. If you’ve got a place to suggest or are interested in guest blogging about it, leave me a message in the comments, or write me at sunshineandsiestas @ gmail . com.

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