Olé! The costume designers behind TV dance-offs have nothing on fashion this season, thanks to a burst of flamenco flourishes. Stamp your feet and clap your hands; these clothes are made for movement. For further inspiration, check out London’s Spanish film festival, opening on Thursday, not to mention the upcoming premiere of Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited. Or the spring/summer runways.
The rippling ruffles, exuberant flares and flirty trims introduce a passionate, idiosyncratic approach to after-hours dressing. After all, flamenco, which these designs recall, and which originated with Andalusian gypsies, is “an intense, passionate dance ... that feeds on improvisation”, according to Dance Central. London-based Spanish designer Emilio de la Morena, whose collection includes strappy, flamenco-inspired layered dresses and ra-ra skirts, sees it as a style for celebrating. A rash of flamenco festivals, from London’s Sadler’s Wells to Miami’s Ziff opera and New York’s City Center took centre stage earlier this year; ever since, the style has been, literally, sweeping the red carpet, from Amanda Seyfried in black-and-white ruffled asymmetrical Balenciaga at the Les Misérables premiere to Elizabeth Olsen in ruffled and tiered Chanel Couture at the Baftas.
Ralph Lauren went deep down Seville way with tiered dresses, beaded boleros and a gold embellished matador jacket. In his last collection at Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquière went out with a black-and-white ruffled flourish that also showed a lot of leg. At Givenchy, Riccardo Tisci put his stamp on the look with a one-sleeved dress sporting ruffle neck, ruffle trims and gold metallic detail, while Humberto Leon and Carol Lim at Kenzo offered their version: a red-frill pleated mini dress with cut-out back. Gucci’s Frida Giannini gave her pink silk gown with plunging keyhole neckline flouncy oversize cuffs made for clicking castanets, and at Peter Pilotto a figure-hugging silk print came complete with lime-green ruffles. For an edgy street take, JW Anderson broke his sharply tailored menswear aesthetic with white flouncy bralets (a bra/crop-top hybrid), dogtooth wool ruffle shorts and asymmetrical silk and cashmere ruffle tanks. At Burberry Prorsum, Christopher Bailey gave the caped trench or cropped capelet a flamenco treatment in metallic python or pink silk satin.
Should you invest?
Does Carmen still draw a crowd? “Every woman wants something fun and glamorous in their wardrobe,” says Laura Larbalestier, Browns’ buying director. Besides, you don’t have to go completely over-the-top. Less obvious alternatives with a cha-cha edge are Carven’s flirty flared hem skirts, Miu Miu’s raspberry silk blouse with ruffled pussy-bow tie, and Moschino’s peplum crepe blazer. The high street has, not surprisingly, also stepped into the arena, with Warehouse offering a casual T-shirt with ruffled sleeves, and Asos.com layering up the accessories for the fastest transformation. But keep accessories neutral. “You want the flamenco piece to be the main focus,” says Larbalestier. Throw on a ruffled shawl, scarf or jaunty pleated ruffle beret, toss your head, and dance your way into summer.