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In the “roaring twenties”, the smart set flock to Loewe stores in both Madrid and Barcelona for dainty handbags for the ladies and, for the discerning gentlemen, vanity cases stocked with the necessities for shaving, fashioned out of silver. There are travel trunks in all sizes and embossed photograph albums in which to record lazy days spent at San Sebastián and Santander, the summer resorts in the cool north of the country.
But by 1934, when Enrique Loewe Knappe takes the helm, following the deaths of both his father and his grandfather in just five years, it is against a background of fear. Some clients are leaving the country. Others wonder if the King himself will flee. By 1936, the grand boulevards are under blockade as Spain plunges into civil war. In October 1936, General Franco is declared Head of State.
Loewe opens its grandest stores on Madrid's Gran Vía in 1939 and Barcelona's Paseo de Gracia in 1943 and these provide a ray of light in harsh times, not only for the few who can afford to shop at Loewe. The stores’ window displays become beacons against drabness, glorious explosions of creativity to be enjoyed by all. White peacocks, turbaned Aladdins and, most forbidden of all in a dictatorship where women cannot travel without their husband's permission, airplanes heading to exotic lands, are depicted to thrill passersby, the products themselves playing a supporting role as the company does its bit to give everyone the hope of a brighter future. The rebel soul creator is José Pérez de Rozas, who gives Loewe its creative lead from 1945 right up until 1978. “If Pérez de Rozas had lived in Paris, he would be as famous as Christian Dior”, says Enrique Loewe Lynch, of the fourth generation.
In 2009, an elegant elderly lady presents the company's archivists with two cherished bags dating from the darkest days of the Franco regime, along with a story of love and defiance. She reveals that, as it was rarely safe to linger out on the street, her husband recreated the Loewe windows in the privacy of their apartment to give his wife somewhere safe to dream.