- AFP |
The Queen of Spain's favourite designer Felipe Varela made a stunning comeback to his native Madrid this week with a daring collection that mixed peekaboo and plunging necklines with metal and Swarovski -- but in his trademark impeccable style.
Varela first took part in the Madrid Fashion Week in 1996 but stayed away from the city's catwalks for 14 years and his return was the highlight of the event. The intensely private designer is the preferred couturier of Queen Letizia, a former journalist who has donned his suits and gowns several times -- a fact painstakingly followed by glossies and newspapers the world over.
The British press noted this month that the 43-year-old perennially chic royal sported a snazzy red Varela skirt suit for a fourth time recently. She had first worn it on an official trip to New York in 2009. The head turners from Varela's latest showing included a white wool crepe jacket with an eye-popping red fox fur collar and clingy decollete gowns with bold thigh-high slits that recreated the glamour of Hollywood's golden era.
Peekaboo net jackets were embellished with metal and fur and lingerie-style dresses with 1960s hemlines with an aluminium look -- harking back to Paco Rabanne creations from that epoch. The 2016-2017 autumn-winter "Crystal Army" collection also has an abundance of glittering baubles -- 185,000 of them and mostly Swarovski -- but does not descend into bling.
That is one of the reasons why he is favoured by the intensely stylish Spanish royal, whose wardrobe is keenly followed by fashionistas around the world. "It is very difficult to separate the classical and very chic" style of the queen and Varela, said Laura Luceno, a professor at Madrid's Higher School of Fashion Design. The queen became a new royal fashion icon after her husband's June 19, 2014 coronation, featuring in global glossies as a style idol and trendsetter.
She appears to champion mainly Spanish designers who base their houses in the country rather than those who operate from abroad, like Balenciaga, Manolo Blahnik and Paco Rabanne. "Letizia is also drawn to him because he is discreet," said Luceno of the designer who shuns smart parties and can slip incognito through the streets of Madrid.
Varela, who divides his time between Madrid and Paris -- where he had worked for Dior, Lanvin and Mugler -- appeared at the end of his Madrid show, dressed in a black suit and sporting sunglasses. (Anna Cuenca, AFP)