March 23, 2012 9:02 pm

‘Flamenco is part of our identity’

Loewe’s creative director Stuart Vevers talks to flamenco dancer and choreographer Maria Pagés about tradition and creativity

Stuart Vevers, 38, has been creative director at the LVMH-owned Loewe, often described as the “Spanish Hermès” because of its focus on luxury leather, since 2008. Based in Madrid, he was born in the north of England, and has designed accessories for Calvin Klein, Bottega Veneta, Luella, Givenchy and Marc Jacobs. In 2004 he became Mulberry’s design director.

Born in Seville, Maria Pagés, 48, is a flamenco dancer and choreographer with her own dance company who is known for interpreting flamenco as an evolving, contemporary art form. She has collaborated with Plácido Domingo and directed the inaugural gala of the Spanish presidency of the European Union. The two met three years ago.

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When we met

MP When LVMH hired Stuart, Enrique Loewe, president of Fundacion Loewe, said I had to meet you, and we did ...

SV I remember, it was at the poetry awards given by Fundación Loewe, and you were wearing a Loewe dress of mine ...

MP You were very curious about my space, my territory, what I do. I think flamenco is very close to what you do at Loewe. We come from two traditions, and our idea is to be open and to take influences and to live in our times, even if it is with something very traditional. With flamenco, I felt I had to tell you everything about it – the way I see flamenco, the way I think about it, and feel it, and how to live through it, because it is very much part of our identity in Spain.

A Loewe outfit

A Loewe design from spring/summer 2012

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Design inspiration

SV Spain very much influences my designs. I look to Loewe’s past, and the culture of the brand, which is 166 years old, but what is really important is that everything I do has to be for today, for now. That is balance for me, to be inspired by the past but to create for today.

MP Loewe was born at the same time as flamenco started to get attention. In flamenco we don’t have many people who write about our history, as it started in the street, or in small houses. But the first written account of flamenco in the mid-19th century described the music, the dance and the mood and feeling behind it – these exotic things in the south of Spain.

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Exotic Spain

SV I spent quite a lot of time in the south. Spain is very famous for leather, and I used to work with tanneries and people making leather goods before I came here, and a lot are in the south of Spain. For me the south feels more exotic – the light and the architecture – while the weather in the north I am more used to.

The Loewe store in Barcelona

The Loewe store in Barcelona

MP The culture and education in Spain is very individual, and that influences all of arts ... cinema, painting or literature. Culturally, Madrid is very rich.

SV I like the old parts of Madrid, the small streets. And the Prado.

MP I also like to walk and go to the botanic garden, which is close to the Prado. And then you go to eat well, and it is the perfect day.

SV I think the fashion is quite bold here, and, like you say, you can see it in cinema or architecture. The Spanish style is unique. It is black or very colourful. The light is so clear and bright, so colours look good.

MP Loewe is so identified with Spain. I often go on tour in Japan – I have been 17 times, and have some loyal followers there – and I remember I was in Osaka and the wife of a sponsor was wearing a lovely black leather dress. She said, “I wear this in your honour, it is a Loewe dress.” Flamenco is part of our identity but so is Loewe.

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Friendship and dance

SV I’m glad I met you before I saw you perform, as I think I would have been more intimidated. When I first saw you perform I was blown away ... we all have stereotypes in our heads and it was nothing like that. Your work is not traditional.

Maria Pagés and the Amazona bag©Corbis

Maria Pagés (right); the Amazona bag, £1,495

MP It is true that it is different when you meet someone on a stage, as you have this idea about a performer and you don’t know about the person. Sometimes a person is a person and a performer is a performer. I am the same person, I am the same Maria, but it is good you met me before, as you could recognise me through the performance.

SV I dance occasionally in a nightclub but it is not something we have in common. Everyone does it a bit as a kid but it was never a calling of mine. We have never danced together.

MP Only in our imagination. I always say, to dance you only have to imagine, so I am sure you have imagined many times, so I am sure you are a dancer. We are planning a trip to Seville together and ...

SV Maybe in Seville I will be caught up in the moment!

Previous conversation: ‘Am I doing this right?’: Clare Waight-Keller of Chloé talks to stylist Jerry Stafford

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