Sunday 26 January 2020

Enough about the French and Scandinavians - it’s time to embrace polished, pared-back Spanish style

No Spain, no gain: Elena Anaya
No Spain, no gain: Elena Anaya
Queen Letizia
Penelope Cruz
Maria Bernad

Meadhbh McGrath

A book arrived on my desk this week by the Danish street style star Pernille Teisbaek offering a guide on how to "dress Scandinavian". Teisbaek is a regular fixture on the Fashion Week circuit and has an enviable sense of style, but the book strikes me as unusually dated for a typically forward-thinking fashionista.

I think we hit peak Scandi style last winter, if not long before. Perhaps the influx of books and articles on 'hygge' was to blame. In any case, COS, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, helped to bring the Scandi look into the mainstream and, by now, we are well acquainted with their less-is-more philosophy, love of androgynous silhouettes and ability to pair classic pieces with unexpected prints.

This year, the world has fallen in love all over again with French style thanks to Brigitte Macron, wife of French President Emmanuel Macron. She favours agelessly sexy dresses, skinny jeans and sleek tailoring, styled with heavily kohl-lined eyes and luxe accessories. It's a quintessential take on the iconic Parisienne look, and one I'll be happy to never read another article about again.

Stateside, model Gigi Hadid's collaborations with Tommy Hilfiger celebrate classic US style, with amped-up takes on all-American staples, while Raf Simons, creative director at Calvin Klein, has been riffing on nostalgic Americana.

Penelope Cruz
Penelope Cruz

Closer to home, Kate Middleton is a great ambassador for British style, from her classy occasion wear and ladylike day dresses to waxed jackets and jeans in her downtime. Dolce & Gabbana, meanwhile, has embraced a rich, flamboyant vision of Italian style with its recent collections, paying tribute to Italian mothers and the sensuality of Sophia Loren and Monica Bellucci, who made a return to the catwalk for the brand.

But when Queen Letizia of Spain stepped out on holiday in Mallorca in a perfect white linen dress, it got me thinking about 'the Spanish look'.

What sets Spanish style apart? It's typically poised yet laid-back - always polished and put together, but more low-key than its neighbours. And while the Spanish tend to get short shrift in the international style classes, this year they've outdone themselves.

On the high street, Spanish brands like Zara and Massimo Dutti are more popular than ever, while Mango underwent a fashion-forward rebrand and has been showcasing some seriously covetable pieces.

Online store Uterque, Zara's more sophisticated sister brand, is a dream for fashion lovers, offering high quality, well-priced collections, from its elegant tailoring to excellent shoes. On the higher end, there's Delpozo (new to Brown Thomas this season) and leather brand Loewe, where Northern Irish designer Jonathan Anderson has put a modern twist on traditional Spanish craft.

While she has been giving the Duchess of Cambridge a run for her money with impeccably tailored work wear and exquisite evening gowns, Queen Letizia's holiday look this week was emblematic of great Spanish style: a timeless design, updated with discreetly eye-catching details like the crocheted embellishment on her shift dress and her straw tote, a perennial summer hit.

While the likes of Penelope Cruz can do show-stopping red carpet glamour, it's the dialled-down everyday looks that define Spanish style.

Actress Elena Anaya (most recently seen in Wonder Woman), street style favourite Maria Bernad and model Blanca Padilla share Letizia's easy elegance that transcends trends. They're not chasing the latest slogan T-shirt or trying to pull off defiantly ugly clogs. And while they appreciate sharp tailoring and artisanal craft, Spanish women tend to mix well-designed investment pieces (like Letizia's Adolfo Domínguez dress, which she's had for at least six years) with high-street buys like a bold printed dress or wrap blouse from Zara or Mango.

As we reach high summer, many of us are likely feeling too tired (and too sweaty) to keep up with what's hot and what's not. Best to follow the Spaniards: simple, pared-back and luxe, it's a refreshing dose of reality in a summer of fast fashion and faster trends.

Irish Independent

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