Ruffle Top

Ruffle Top
Ruffle Top

High Fashion ruffled: flamenco frills add a touch of Spanish heat to the Paris catwalk

Bold, vibrant, and with a hint of fantasy, flamenco dresses stole the show at the unveiling of Stefano Pilati's Yves Saint Lauren Spring/Summer 2011 collection in Paris this week. Crimsons, golds, violets and striking black-on-white combinations brought a theatrical splash of drama to the collection, which moves away from the pastels and worn-out, washed-out, dull shades of last season. Pilati was not alone in his appreciation of the Andalusian  flair for femininity and sensuality, as Ralph Lauren, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Loewe also looked to sunny Spanish climes for inspiration.

 

Flamenco Dresses: bright, bold and sexy.

Sensual and serpentine, the shape of the classic flamenco dress holds in the waist and flares out below the knees, creating an overall sense of balance and elegance. The cinched-in waist and emphasised chest and hips pay homage to the eternal standard of feminine beauty: the curve, and flatter the natural characteristics of most shapes. When overdone the flamenco look can be reminiscent of fancy dress, but designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Ralph Lauren have borrowed only from the most chic aspects of the flamenco dress tradition, focusing on frilled sleeves and collars, and most remarkably fishtailed gowns. The billowing ruffles added to Ralph Lauren's short skirts and long dresses this season create a sense of movement and fluidity that reflects the passion and sensuality of the flamenco dance. Loewe revamps the classic flamenco black-on-red polka dot with a short red shirt dress, a classically masculine design feminised by voluptuous ruffles and a fairy-dust smattering of designs reminiscent of the Turkish eye. Prada's collection added a flamenco fishtail twist to bold, block print, designs, though there was more talk of the predominance of fruit in the collection, and puns on going bananas, than focus on the flamenco fancy dresses on show.

 

Shoes: practical luxury.

The Andalusian wedge heel, essential for traversing the cobbled streets of Seville, is one of the key influences in Stefano Pilati's YSL Spring/Summer 2011 collection, whilst Ralph Lauren takes inspiration from the archetypal dress of the female matador, focusing on glazed leather boots that set off monogrammed tailored riding-style jackets. The emphasis is on practical luxury, and a slight hint of fantasy anchored in easy-to-wear wedges.

 

Accessories: flowers and frills.

The general trend is to dress in block colours, with frills and ruffles adding splashes of colour to dresses and sleeves, and the Spring/Summer 2011 accessories follow suit. Even the high street has begun to show signs of flamenco influence, with popularist fashionistas such as Jessica Simpson adding ruffles and frills to classic leather shoulder bag designs. In the world of high fashion Jean Paul Gaultier's floral headdresses are a nod to the flamenco tradition of wearing flowers in the hair, a look which has currently been relegated to the archives of last summer, but which this coming Spring/Summer looks to make a comeback, if somewhat an understated one in the face of the triumph of its archetypal bedfellow, the flamenco dress.

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