These days we are celebrating the Seville April Fair or Feria de Sevilla, which is one of the most important celebrations in the city. A big area in the neighborhood of Los Remedios is covered by hundreds of casetas, temporal decorated tents, where people dance sevillanas, drink wine and have fun with family and friends. Most of the women wear their flamenco dress and flowers in their head. It is a very colorful spring celebration.
The Feria is celebrated only a week in the year, but for many of us the “flamenca dress operation” starts in the first months of the year. There is a moment when we decide to try on our dress to check is everything is fine or if it is necessary to fix something. I did it last February and as I expected it didn’t fit. I mean, it would hardly zip up and It was very difficult to breath. Taking into account that it was my mother’s dress, and it was the 4th year wearing the same one, I didn’t want to fix it anymore. So I just decide to buy a new one!
Finding a new flamenca dress is a race against the clock, specially if you start it in the beginning of April, but in my case I had more time. Other women whose mothers or grandmothers who are tailors can get their own custom-made dress at home, something that is the best thing can happen to you, because in that way you are sure that you’ll be the only one with that dress. But I am not so lucky. Buying a tailor-made dress can be very expensive and of course it takes much more time. Maybe in a not so far future I could get a customized dress for me, but this time my best option was to go shopping.
I visited more than 5 different shops in three weeks. Completely on my own, nobody else joined me. I’ve seen in every shop a lot of women trying on different dresses always accompanied with their mothers, boyfriends, husbands or friends. Me, completely alone, I never had nobody to ask opinions. But then… it happened….
In the last shop, after trying two more dresses, I took one more without worrying so much about its shape, patterns, design or kind of fabric. It was mainly black (I never liked black color in flamenco dresses), with white spots in the frills and some details in red. I dress up and I thought it was “ok”, at least I could zip up, but I saw too much black color. Anyway, I went out of the fitting room to ask the shop assistant to do up the zip. She approached like a fairy godmother, smiling and shining, and she said “I know what this dress needs”, and she came back with a red mantoncillo to put it on my shoulders, softly surrounding my cleavage. I was like when in the famous TV show the shop assistant put a veil on the head of the bride and suddenly everything is perfect.
“What do you think?” She said to me while I was looking at me in the mirror. Next to me, a woman who was helping her daughter to choose her dress also added “Darling, you look beautiful, this is the best one you tried in this shop”. Not only in the shop, but in all the different shops I’ve been. My response was very clear and I said yes to the flamenca dress!
But it was not the end of the adventure. It was necessary to send my dress to a tailor to adapt it to my shape and the length of the skirt. I needed it to buy the shoes before changing the length. More shopping was waiting for me… I tried some flamenco heels but I was sure that I could not stand heels in a long day in the Feria. They are more beautiful than any other shoes you can wear, but as many other women who dress for the feria, I prefer to feel more comfortable. Shoes with esparto soles are a must in my flamenca outfit. I could find them very soon, tried on my dress again and fixed everything that was needed.
In the meantime I also look for the abalorios or accessories: earrings, flowers, hair combs, brooch and bracelet. No necklace this time as the shop assistant told me that nowadays necklaces are completely out of style. This is an important characteristic in this traditional dress: the fashion changes every year. Years ago the fashion was to wear short sleeves, but now sleeves are long and with frills. When I was a child the waistband was in the waist but in the last 15 years it was moved to a lower position, underlining the hips. It happens the same with the accessories and after many Ferias wearing the flower on top of the head, like my sister in the last picture, now the fashion is to put it behind the ears, like it was some years ago.
Of course, fashions are just fashions and every woman wears whatever she thinks it fits better on her and what she likes more. Here we say, and it is completely true, that all women are beautiful in a flamenca dress, because they are completely designed to highlight our bodies and beauty. This year, finally, I am wearing for the first time a new flamenca dress, not inherited from my mother, that I bought it with my own money, not with my parents’ money. I have chosen all the accessories by my own and I red a lot of articles on internet before choosing make up and hairstyle. Believe me, there is a lot of work behind every flamenco dress, and also a lot of excitement!
This is the result. Hope you like it!
Are you visiting Andalusia? Maybe I can help you to organize your trip or I can be your guide. Penelope