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Can you learn about a culture from the flutter of a silk scarf? Yes, if it is Loewe and imbued with the soul of Spain. Huge fringed shawls, known as “Mantón de Manila” remain a Spanish tradition and Loewe has both embraced this national heritage and given silk twill scarves an unequivocally Iberian spin, with designs that are distinct from those of French or Italian competitors.
In the 1980s, two artists, the esteemed Vicente Vela and a young painter just out of art school called Julia León, (the latter still working at Loewe,) embarked on an adventure. Armed with sketch books and cameras, they travelled across Spain; East to bustling Barcelona on the Mediterranean where they found inspiration in the Catalonian colours and motifs of the great architect, Gaudí, West to the dramatic Atlantic coast; South to Andalusia, home to those flamenco rhythms like the beat of the human heart and the Arabian ornamentation of the Alhambra. They visited Roman monuments, feasted their eyes on 17th Century Baroque and witnessed the brutal passions of the bullfight. “We felt a responsibility to tell people about our culture”, recalls León today. “We did not even shy away from stereotypes. Instead, we tried to re-examine them in a refined way”.
Hence “Tauromaquia”, a bestseller of three decades' standing, which depicts bullfighters in an intimate moment of meditation before they enter the ring, not knowing if they will leave it dead or alive. The remarkable 1656 painting by Velázquez, known in English as “the Maids of Honour”, which hangs in Madrid's Museo del Prado, one of the greatest art galleries in the world, inspired another bestseller, called “Meninas”. Scarves from this era that remain in the collection can be identified by the four lines of border stitching, mirroring that used on the leather bags, while bold contemporary artworks on silk remain strongly linked to cultural symbols.