Thursday, April 14, 2011

Window Shopping in BCN - The beautiful boutiques and caf├ęs

Allthough I previously posted a list of what I got from the big stores on the main streets of Barcelona - I was actually looking to do some shopping from the fabulous well hidden boutiques I've heard so much about. After visiting all the important turistical attractions that this city can provide we finally stopped and enjoyed what Barcelona has to really offer.

It wasn't the Sagrada Familia,  Placa Catalunya ,or the famous La Rambla that made you feel the real barcelonian vibe - but it was the little tangled streets in the Gothic Quarter that made us want to explore and discover the city even more.

We also went to Sarria - a northern neighborhood of Barcelona which was an independent town not too long ago but now became part of the city. This little neighborhood was so quiet, pieceful and clean with it's little houses and balconies and small bistros and cafe's. And if you want to have a real taste  of the famous spanish PATATAS BRAVAS you have to go to TOMAS de Sarria .

This is not a very pretty spanish coffeeshop - not to clean - everything is spilled on the floor - the waiter is very unpolite and throws the food at you and screams after he gets your order so that the chef can hear it from  the other side BUT we had the best patatas bravas ever there! It is a very famous place - not too well known by tourists - it's more a place for locals.

Coming back to the tangled , hidden streets and squares of the Gothic Quarter I would also recommend a very good place to eat - that is the Alsur Cafe which is another very local place which we found by accident being tired of eating tapas all day long and wanting to taste some actual cooked food - something which isn't deep fried or very dry.

This is the place to go if you want to eat well, not spend alot of money, have some good cocktails and maybe catch an unpexpected concert or event as they organize all sorts of fun stuff - karaoke, live jazz music, live spanish guitar music, a nice sunday brunch or even a live DJ party.

So before you sit down and enjoy your food at Alsur Cafe just take your time and wonder around that beautiful area and shop till your drop :)

Here are some of the boutiques I found along the way:

Urbana Boutiques

PNB Boutique

La Ventinueve

Botiga Vintage

Pipa de Girasol

Bazaar Boutique

Soda Boutique

No Name Shoe Shop - surprisingly with Vivienne Westwood Melissa Shoes inside :)

The Rent Shop

Hector - Leather Boutique

African Inspired Boutique 

Casa PERU Boutique

Natura SHOP - all hemp and natural textiles

Angela Anton Boutique
Anna Povo Boutique

And the last but not least - The Spanish Traditional Food Store - which is quite impressive by just looking in the window - the dream of every carnivore out there

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

WHAT TO WEAR? Maria Brillas’ Wardrobe by Pedro Rodriguez

The wardrobe we build op over time shapes our own biography as the garments we choose to keep and we no longer use represent moments , memories and emotions which we do not want to eliminate and want to continue forming part of our life’

Will i attract attention? Will I meet expectations? What will they think of me? Does it suit me? Will they like me? Am I what I look like? How will others see me? What shall I wear? Will I go unnoticed? Am I me? Will I surpass expectations? What image do I project?

Just like in Rome another beautiful coincidence of me being in the right place at the right time came my way. Barcelona just hosted at the Museu Textil i d’Indumentaria an exhibition in which people can admire the wardrobe of Maria Brillas – all pieces signed by Pedro Rodriquez. 

The exhibition is called What to wear? and it shows  exactly the decision Maria Brillas had to face before every event she was attending or every place she had to go. It reflects on the way that the wardrobe s part of us as an individual and also reflects our personality. The clothes we decide to wear mark exactly the way we want to be perceived by others or the statement we want to make. 

Not only was I able to see the great choices Maria Brillas made in choosing her clothes but I also learned more about Pedro Rodriquez of which I haven’t heard until this expo.  He was a master of the Spanish couture between 1919 and 1980’s in Barcelona, Madrid and San Sebastian. 

Everyday we must face alone an essential and ordinary decision about what to wear, how to dress, what specific selection of clothes we make from our more or less extensive wardrobe. The complexity intrinsic to the fact of dressing is greater than it first seems as it involves a profound emotional and intellectual reflection which helps us to decide how we want to look to others; that is , to construct not only our public image but also our own identity

-           these were the words written on the wall before the exhibition began.
There were also alot of schemes drawn before every group of dresses (day dresses, evening, cocktail dresses etc.) to show you in which part of the day would Maria Brillas wear this. For instance from 9 till 12 in the morning she would sit in her ‘office’ as she called it (that was her dressing room) and she organized the day . From 12 till 3 in the afternoon she would go take care of some errands in town and visit Pedro Rodriquez. From 6 till 9 in the evening she would go to the Opera and between 9 and midnight she would go for dinner , attend events and dance.

Because as we find out in this exhibition the wardrobe is an extension of our personality and the clothes we wear play a very important role in the construction of our identity it is easily comprehended that Maria Brillas was a very strong individual in the social life of Barcelona. She chose her wardrobe to meet the expectations surrounding her in a determined social, political and cultural context. She was married to the distinguished businessman from Girona – Joaquim Ensesa and this brought alot of pressure with itself. Brillas had to always be on top of things and represent her family and status the best way she knew how.Between Maria Brillas and Pedro Rodriquez was a very strong, faithful and close relationship. So he was not only her  favourite designer but also her friend.  

By exploring this wonderful exhibition I was a witness of some beautiful examples of the 20th century couture and also what Maria was going through every moment of every day. How hard it was for a woman in a specific social position to maintain all the appearances and how greatly she was conditioned when making her sartorial choices.

The four main sections which I curiously explored were marked as : Day , Evening, Cocktail and Ceremony Clothing.  Around these four criteria was the life and wardrobe of Maria Brillas organized and put together.

 DAY  - Light dresses 
- light and often patterned dresses were much in vogue from the mid 30's to the late 50's
- comfort and freedom of movement
- relaxed ocassions , far from the social pressure (walk in the countryside or summer outings)
DAY - Knitted Wool Dresses with impeccable cut
-everyday occasions that required more formality
-afternoon visits to relatuves , friends or commitments
-halfway between the dress and the tailored suit

DAY - Suits and tailored ensembles
- task related to work or daily activities with a certain formality
- perfect work uniform - sober colours

DAY - coats
- comfort, good cut and quality of fabrics 
- appliquthat add great aestethic strength to the garment
- deep grean coat in plain wool and black coat with a monkey fur collar , camel-coloured on was worn more often

- marked preference in black for cocktail dresses
- these were worn at parties in Madrid and Barcelona in the 1950's and 1960's
- discret host


EVENING - Black Dresses

EVENING - Sheer Dresses

EVENING - Tunic Dresses

EVENING - Jewel-like beadwork

 EVENING - Majestic Dresses