by Borja Elorza.
Basque fashion has had prime examples in the world. Designers Paco Rabanne and Cristóbal Balenciaga have been, without a doubt, the biggest names internationally. Balenciaga revolutionized fashion creating a following and his classic patterns are still on-trend nowadays. Paco Rabanne managed to turn the strict fashion norms of Parisian designers upside down, establishing himself as a true visionary, using fabrics and materials that before his time, no designer dared to use.
Today across the Basque Country we can boast of a large reserve of designers standing out at the international level and even opting to present their collections in important international runways, as in the case of the Guipuzcoan firm Etxeberria, specializing in menswear whose work is based on the revisiting of the classic tailoring using a contemporary pattern design with a relook at the types of garments, the traditional use of materials and methods of sewing. Etxeberria has been recognized twice by the firm L´oreal in Madrid Fashion Week, presenting its collections in important international runways, such as the Vienna Fashion Week, Marseille Fashion Week and the Brooklyn Fashion Week in New York, where it earned great recognition in the international press. Its collections can be found in Italy, France, Russia, China and USA.
The outstanding designer of Bizkaia, Mercedes de Miguel, is without a doubt the ‘Made in Basque’ fashion designer with the greatest international presence. Her designs always coming from an inconspicuous place and out of the spotlight, stand out for their serenity and assuredness, strengthening the brand as highly important in the fashion industry in countries such as: France, Japan, Taiwan, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Arab countries, Mexico and Russia. You can find her at 800 points-of-sale with her two multi-brand signatures of Mercedes de Miguel and her newly released second brand, Poupée Chic. Mercedes de Miguel believes strongly in the importance of internationalizing Basque fashion and shows it with her presence at the best points of sale internationally for 15 years.
This designer encourages more recognition of Basque fashion on an international level, much like the metallurgical sector, the machine tools sector and the gastronomy boom is being recognized. In order to reinforce this goal, her brand is part of the QB2 project (How Beautiful is Bilbao) through which she is opening stores with other companies in the sector, exporting the image ‘Made in Basque’ at the international level. Mercedes de Miguel recognizes that a greater effort from companies and institutions is important to reinforce this image. Designer Ion Fiz as well, encourages institutions for greater support to achieve more recognition and positioning of Basque fashion in the world, something that would surely achieve significant growth of our industry.
If we talk about Basque style, all the designers consulted with agree that there is a particular identity when designing and superior quality when it comes to making the clothing ‘Made in Basque’. “There is a concept of elegance in the Basque country. It has always been said that in the Basque Country people dress very well, both at the level of the great designers as well as at a popular level. We continue the tradition of fine dressing, each with one’s own style but with that touch of elegance always present. Not in vain, we are heirs to the great among greats, Grandmaster Balenciaga”, explains Mercedes de Miguel.
In addition to exporting and internationalizing our fashion, the Basque country arouses the attention of hundreds of artists from around the world in the international competition Art & Fashion, targeting young potential designers from 18 to 35 years of age, with substantial economic awards. This event is positioned as one of the most prestigious in Europe and is the only one to combine both art and fashion in one event which is growing in projection and relevance with each edition, and which is chaired by the director of the renowned Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Juan Ignacio Vidarte.
More than 800 young designers from 47 countries throughout the 5 continents participated in the last edition. The winner of the 2012 Edition was the Japanese Yuichi Ozaki, with the design Trompe L´oeil. Next year, in 2014, the IV Edition of Bilbao International Art & Fashion will take place, in which the Basque country again will become the focus of attention of young international designers.
We cannot wrap up this article about Basque fashion without stressing that sometimes great masters raise the level of the art into capital letters, art worthy of being displayed in museums and exhibitions, such as our paradigmatic and aforementioned Cristóbal Balenciaga, who in his honor and in recognition to him and his work, the Basque institutions have devoted a Museum in his hometown, Getaria (Gipuzkoa), home also to another famous world-class character, Juan Sebastián Elcano, the first Navigator to sail around the world.
The Balenciaga Museum was conceived by the “Fundación Cristóbal Balenciaga”, whose mission is to promote, disseminate and enhance transcendence, relevance, importance and prominence to the person and work of the great designer of artistic creation in general and to the world of fashion and Haute Couture in particular.
This great universal Basque should serve as an example and incentive to continue working on the goal that Basque Style is another source of pride to promote our seal far beyond our borders.
|Borja Elorza is a communicator