Fashion designer José Galvañ adapts his flamenco flair to new collections
How the pandemic caused fashion designer (and flamenco dancer) José Galvañ to refocus his business
This year has been highly challenging for many businesses in Andalucia, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but none more so than flamenco designers.
The moda flamenco industry (flamenco fashion - the long, frilled gypsy dresses and complementary accoutrements, technically a regional costume) is of crucial importance to Andalucia, where the entire fashion industry in 2019 was worth more than 700 million euros in exports (figures from Extenda).
These artisans have two main types of client: bailaoras (flamenco dancers), who order made-to-measure outfits to wear for their performances, trajes which can run to over 1,000€; and women who want dresses for the feria season. The trends for these trajes de flamenca change every year, in terms of colour, cut, print and fabric.
The live flamenco scene has been severely curtailed this year, due to limited capacity at indoor venues, while no ferias took place in 2020 due to the cancellation of all major social events. The outlook for 2021 is not much better: at the time of writing, the Feria de Abril in Seville has been cancelled, and it’s likely that others will be too; plus, there are no immediate plans for audiences in flamenco peñas (clubs), often intimate spaces, to return to normal.
For Malaga-born flamenco dancer-turned-designer José Galvañ, who has been creating flamenco designs since 2013, this situation presented quite a challenge. In normal times, Jose would continue to perform as well, with performances in Seville and tours in China; he has been dancing for over 20 years.
Flamenco fashion – ready-to-wear and couture
José works from his shop-atelier opposite the Casa de las Dueñas, the Duquesa de Alba’s palace in Seville, where flamencas can find off-the-peg designs, as well as the full couturier service. A feria dress takes a week to make, as it has more volantes (frills), and a dancer’s dress around four days.
During the Bienal de Flamenco in Seville (even-numbered years), many aficionados come to browse the rails of Galvañ Costura, including international visitors who are staying in the city to experience the best of the dance and music genre, and might buy a dress to take home to South Korea, Japan, or Poland.
The Malageño designer would normally produce a daytime feria collection, with fabrics in light colours – for example, his collection for the major flamenco fashion show SIMOF (Salon International de la Moda Flamenca) in January 2020 featured lots of white, coral and pistachio, spring-like floral prints, and spots of various sizes, including a quirky domino print; and a more glamorous night collection, with bold red, petrol-green, and black predominating.
A different, flamenco-influenced collection for a changed market
Later on this year, with a much-reduced social calendar to cater for, like so many other creatives, José pivoted from flamenco to other types of fashion.
The designer’s new collection “Typical”, presented virtually at SIQ (Sevilla Handicraft and Fashion) in December 2020, consists of chic, sophisticated black dresses – mostly full-length, but also short and asymmetrical. Transparent panels in tulle or gauze add a glamorous feel, while frills and ruffles, whether on the sleeves, neckline, waist, hem, or across the entire body, channel the flamenco vibe.
In the presentation of his collection on a “virtual catwalk” (a white studio where the model sashays towards, and then away from, the camera), each dress is worn with fuchsia-coloured tights or leggings, and red carnations in the model’s chignon. The monochrome sobriety is undercut by these flashes of vivid colour.
Two of the dresses stand out: a long piece with shimmying voile frills, which flow beautifully as the model walks, and the other tight-fitting with a huge frill, nipped in at the waist and expanding over the model’s bust and hips.
This is José’s contemporary riff on what is típico about Spain, allowing him more freedom than a traditional flamenco collection. He explains that “typical” is seen as a negative thing, but he has used his favourite Spanish ingredients – the fucsia (deep pink) seen in bullfighters’ outfits, the garruchas (frills) of his beloved flamenco dresses, and the claveles (carnations) that traditionally adorn women’s hair, in a colour to match, or coordinate with, their traje de flamenca.
“The most typical of Spain, combined with today’s style, without venturing too far from my roots,” is how the designer characterises the mood. “My ideal woman is strong and fearless, a woman of today,” he says.
José has harnessed his creative flair to launch another new collection this year, Mirai, which is divided into Casual (urban pieces: shorts, shirt dresses, sweatshirts with logos in green and grey), and Elegance (more structured, with dramatic silhouettes, in a palette of black, canary yellow and vivid pink: tailored trousers, puffy sleeves, and a cute white blouse with black ribbon and tiny bows). “This is not flamenco or formal wear,” he says.
Here’s hoping that he, and all the other flamenco designers, can resume making their fabulous flounced creations before too long. And that we can enjoy the mesmerising dance performances at flamenco tablaos, and visit the much-missed casetas of the feria, both of which are integral to life in Andalucia.
Jose’s atelier and shop, José Galvañ Costura, is at calle Duenas 10, 41003 Seville.
Galvañ Costura José Galvañ
Mirai MIRAI by José Galvañ