We see them in every picture of the Feria, the flamenco dresses that all the women wear during this wonderful week of festivities. It is one of the only pieces of traditional clothing that is actually still fashionable and fashion-sensitive. But what is the story behind them? How does one obtain such a dress? What do they cost? And how many flamenco dresses does a woman really have/need? For the sake of journalism and to satisfy your curiosity, I did some research and even bought one of these dresses in an attempt to answer all of these questions.
Mid 1800’s, ‘Gitana’ women started wearing self-made dresses, made out of old fabric but sewn into nice ruffles at the bottom to give it a nicer appearance, to the local fairs in the towns around Sevilla. After a while, more women started copying these dresses until eventually, at the Ibero-American exposition in Sevilla in 1929, members of high society attended in the traditional ‘Traje de Flamenca’, which resulted in the dress now being the official outfit of the event.
Today, the flamenco dress is popular in all of Andalusia. It’s one of the most distinct features of every feria. The average Sevillana has 3-4 dresses, and usually doesn’t wear one dress two days in a row. Every few years they add another dress to their collection, some more than others. Prices of these dresses range from € 300 to more than € 2.000. The price depends on the type of fabric, style and adjustments needed for the perfect fit. If you want to be very fashionable and original, you’ll probably have to spend a little bit more. The cheapest dresses are usually dresses from earlier seasons, or not of good quality. If you have a cheap dress, you’re also more likely to see at least 5 other people in the same dress at the Feria, and that is something you want to avoid.
The traditional dresses are hard to walk in, because they are tight until the knees before they flare out. Flamenco dancers also wear these dresses, but in a different style that allows more movement. However, during the Feria, the women in the traditional dresses dance as well. Not as elaborately as the flamenco dancers, but they dance a simplified version of the flamenco, the ‘sevillanas’. If you happen to be in Sevilla during the Feria (which I highly, highly recommend), you can take our Feria Tour, and we will show you around the Feria and you can see these dances for yourself! This year (2018) the Feria will be held from the 15th of April until the 21st of April.
I was so intrigued by seeing these women in their beautiful Spanish flamenco dresses, that I was curious to see what it feels like to wear one, so I went and tried on a few dresses. Eventually I was persuaded and bought my very first flamenco dress. Curious about my experiences? Stay tuned for another blog next week.