In the Spanish region of Andalusia, Seville, I have discovered a delightfully esoteric location for production shopping.
Arriving at the centre of the city, a mere 7km from the airport, my costume radar went into overdrive before I had even the first whaft of tapas.
As the rain stayed mainly on my umbrella, the scent of orange blossom, glimpses of extraordinary architecture and the sheer…um…Spanishness drew me in. Following my nose through the labyrinth of pedestrianised streets in the Barrio de Santa Cruz area, I found, in addition to the familiar global brands around Calle Tetuan and Calle Sierpes, a great number of independent stores both traditional and endearingly quaint, situated between strikingly modern boutiques.
Unlike, say, the main shopping areas in London, in Seville, there exists a very wide range of clothing – perfect for character shopping.
There are specialist stores with tailored equestrian attire, hats and leather accessories that somehow seem untouched by the 20th let alone 21st century, and countless shops boutiques and studios devoted to flamenco dresses ranging in quality from tacky souvenir to haute couture. Here you can also find fine lace Mantillas, with supporting combs (Peineta), hand painted fans, and beautifully hand embroidered shawls. I had the impression that I was in a time warp as I stumbled upon countless windows dressed with the most exquisite childrenswear that would certainly benefit a costume department sourcing the generic early to mid 20th century clothing beloved of “period look” films.
Shoe shops abound, with every style imaginable, plus a good supply of staples such as old school plimsolls, espadrilles and retro-tastic slippers. Try finding those in Westfield! The abundance of Flamenco footwear alone is worth the trip as both men’s and women’s styles could pass for late 19th Early 20th century European footwear, if not on principals, definitely in crowd scenes.
Likewise, garments on display were a curious mélange of dated Mother of the Bride through to avant garde red carpet numbers and for men, the range was of smart to super smart – the Sevillianos really don’t do Casual. Ever.
Lingerie shops are a little harder to spot, and tend to be discrete, however I did pass a wonderful stockist of fabulously fleshy girdles, sturdy bras and support stockings at the Cathederal end of Calle Sierpes.
There too, I found the wonderful Velasco – suppliers of an astonishing array of ecclesiastical embroidery supplies alongside the more mundane haberdashery requisites.
Leading up to the legendary Semana Santa (Holy Week), business was brisk, and along the narrow street nearby, I watched a two man team employed in the charmingly anachronistic task of twisting bobbins of golden thread into a cord, by way of an ancient wooden spinning wheel.
The fabric shops of central Seville are to be found in and around Calle Cuna, notably the three storey Galerias Madrid at no. 42. This had a comprehensive range of good value textiles, splendidly divided into easy to navigate sections, a small range of fancy dress costumes, some workwear and a floor dedicated to budget Flamenco outfits.
Another fabric supplier, Arias Almacenes at C/22 Puente y Pellon is en route to the astonishing Metropol Parasol, and nearby at C/Imagen 6 – 2 is Vinda Complementos – for millinery supplies, beads and findings.
With a limited stay in Seville, and keen to indulge in visiting the Real Alcázar, Cathederal, Museo del Baile Flamenco, I simply ran out of time to document further sources of costume. For such a tiny area, I was amazed at the range of goods on offer and a brief crossing of the Guadalquivir to the traditional working class district of Triana confirmed that area as a place to investigate on my next trip, with it’s reputation for producing bullfighters and Flamenco artistes from it’s predominantly gypsy community.
Production Shopping Tips:
It was unseasonably chilly for March, which may account for the shops opening all day, however, in the scorching summer months most shops are open from 9.30am until 1.30pm and reopen after the siesta about 4.30pm or 5pm until around 8pm.
There is an airport bus into the city centre (via Kansas City!!!) operated by EA which costs a flat fare of €4 . Central Seville is small, so check a large scale map or research your route on Streetview beforehand. A taxi from the airport costs around €24, but beware that a lot of the areas you may wish to visit are pedestrianised so access is limited.
Bags with sturdy wheels are a must and hold luggage should be budgeted for if flying with low cost airlines.
The Museo del Baile Flamenco, C/ManuelRojas Marcos 3 , a charming account of the origins of the art, with a small selection of beautifully displayed costumes. Bar Estrella around the corner, is highly recommended for Tapas and locally produced wine.
La Casa del Flamenco, Ximénez de Enciso 28. Barrio Santa Cruz, a traditional Flamenco show presented in a 15th century house.
Casa de la Memoria, Calle Cuna 6 , a Flemenco show venue with a small muséum and art gallery on the upper floors.
The Real Alcázar Royal Palace, a glorious mixture of architecture dating from the XI century.
Seville Cathederal. Enormous and sublime with terrific views from the Giralda Bell Tower.
Metropol Parasol. The extraordinary construction that will have you rushing with inspiration to the nearest cutting table.
Visiting the Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populaires .