Joaquín Sorolla Characters from Lagartera or Lagartera Bride, 1912 Courtesy of Museo Sorolla, Madrid
I spent a luxurious Friday afternoon at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute taking in the recently opened "Joaquín Sorolla and The Glory of Spanish Dress" exhibit. I had been awaiting the opening of "Joaquín Sorolla and The Glory of Spanish Dress" all fall, and questioning how the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute could possibly outdo "Balenciaga and Spain." The exhibit was developed by Oscar de la Renta, who is the Institute's chairman of the board.
De la Renta's inspiration for this exhibit was Vision of Spain, the Sorolla mural commissioned in 1911 for The Hispanic Society of America in New York. The size and scale of the series was unheard of. The mural represents eleven regions of Spain and focuses on agrarian culture, traditions and dress. Sorolla spent eight years researching, sketching, preparing studies and paintings in preparation for the mural.
Joaquín Sorolla Couple from Salamanca, 1912 Courtesy of Museo Sorolla, Madrid
I love the way Sorolla paints Spain's landscapes. Oil studies and gouaches capture each region's specific and particular quality of light. Sorolla would purchase authentic garments and jewelry in an effort to preserve the distinct culture of each region. The jewelry in this exhibit is stunning. Various Traje de Vistas (bridal and festive ensembles worn by women in the early twentieth century) feature necklaces, pendants, medals, medallions, reliquaries, crosses and beautifully craved coral pieces. I always find jewelry to be so enduring.
The exhibit features a fisherman's shirt covered with patches of clothing remnants that Sorolla purchased during a trip through the Basque Country. There are beautiful examples of embroidery from Lagartera, a town famous for its' embroidery, needlework and lace making (sigh). The traditional clothing in "Joaquín Sorolla and The Glory of Spanish Dress" is primarily from the early 20th century. My favorite being elaborate brocades (reminiscent of French Court dress) from Valencia's thriving silk producing and weaving industry.
Mantón de Manila (shawl), 19th century Collection of Naty Abascal © Craig McDean / Courtesy of Art + Commerce
Traje corto (riding ensemble), c. 1961 Collection of the Duchess of Alba © Craig McDean / Courtesy of Art + Commerce
The exhibit opens with its' only contemporary day look; a tan leather coat from Nicolas Ghesquière's Fall 2006 collection (look 7). Fall 2006 is one of my favorite Nicolas Ghesquière collections. The exhibit seamlessly juxtaposes Sorolla's paintings and traditional clothing with modern evening looks from Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Carolina Herrera, YSL, Oscar de la Renta and Christian Lacroix that were inspired by various aspects of Spanish dress. Christian Lacroix's Eau du Nil wedding dress made me feel quite nostalgic. How can you talk about finding inspiration in Spain without mentioning Lacroix, who considers Spain a muse.
I love the talent that went into producing this exhibit. A few looks were generously contributed from Hamish Bowles' personal couture collection. Andrè Leon Talley curated the exhibit; the sets were designed by Stefan Beckman and Harold Koda wrote the forward for the accompanying book. If you're in New York, I highly recommend stopping in and getting lost.
Happy 2012! Hope the new year is off to a good start for you all.