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From humble beginnings to worldwide sensation





Stylish Spanish woman in a traditional dress


María, a young woman in eighteenth century Andalusia, is going to the market in her humble working gown to help her father sell his flock of sheep.

She doesn't realise it but Carmen is looking at her enviously because she looks radiant in her figure hugging dress.

Carmen is a rich lady who doesn't hesitate to have her clothes made by the best dressmaker. She orders the richest and most delicate fabrics for making a dress in the same style as María's gown. This will be the costume Carmen wears when she rides her beautiful horse at Seville's April Fair.

Carmen's daring style arouses such admiration that the costume is declared 'the official dress for attending the fair' and it becomes the flamenco phenomenon that travels the world as 'the costume of Spanish women'.

Now maybe you understand why most people think the 'flamenco' dress is worn by every Spanish beauty but in reality it's only one of many. How many typical Spanish dresses do you know?


Origin of 'Traje de flamenca'

The forerunner of the typical Spanish 'flamenco costume' is found in the eighteenth century working clothes worn by peasants and gypsies at livestock markets. These women wore modest, ruffled calico gowns to work. Over the years two or three ruffles finishing the bustle became the fashion. The purpose was clear: this outfit enhanced the figure of the women whilst also expressing her passion.

This was a new phenomenon. Instead of the lower classes wishing to emulate the style of the wealthy, it was the upper classes who copied the outfits of the most humble.

The revolution began…

From the time the April Fair was celebrated in Seville in 1929, when the Great International Exhibition was also held, the 'flamenco dress' was consecrated as the 'official dress' for attending the fair, and this still remains the case today.

The Great International Exhibition made the 'flamenco costume' famous worldwide, and it subsequently became the 'costume of Spanish women'. Nowadays the 'flamenco dress' is the only traditional costume in Spain that evolves according to fashion.


52 Spanish costumes

Every mayor city in Spain has its own typical costume which is part of its culture and traditions. If you are interested in folklore you will see these costumes in celebrations where traditional music and dance are performed.


Look at these Spanish dancers...



On this map you can see a collection of stamps that represent traditional Spanish costumes





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