“I have left my skin. I’ve been almost sleepless for several nights,” says Juana Martín after her parade held in Paris on the afternoon of Thursday, July 7, which has officially made her the first Spanish woman (“and gypsy”, as she likes to point out). to parade in the very exclusive official haute couture calendar of the French capital. In 2018, and after her departure from the Cibeles catwalk, Martín settled in Paris and began to present her collections in the city; the first, titled Shrimp, 30 years later, paid homage to the myth of flamenco and captured the attention of the specialized press. It was then that the French Federation of Haute Couture, the body that regulates who can and who cannot walk within its strict fashion week (and, therefore, say that its brand belongs to the select group of haute couture), He began to pay attention to the work of the Cordoba woman and to take an interest in that peculiar update of Andalusian folklore and local crafts. Last April she was suggested to participate as a guest designer. She successfully went through the long process to do so: a sponsor who is a member of the federation (it is almost never revealed who) bet on her and the team visited her workshops and verified the designer’s ability to create more than twenty pieces at hand.
“I couldn’t say the exact number of hours it took us to make each piece. Some have been days; others, several weeks”, explains Martín, who has worked with his seamstresses from Córdoba (“many new, because several have retired”) and different artisans from Paris, such as Maison Fegler, shoemakers from Brittany that he met through his agency communication in the city. Together they have created flat models that evoke the male dance shoe and, in turn, are brocaded or embellished with luxurious metal pieces. Martín has wanted to call his debut in sewing Andalusia, as simple as that, because his roots have always been the starting point since he began designing in 1999 and because he wanted to show the international public that his land “is many things”. “It’s light, it’s optimism, it’s theater, it’s history, it’s expression,” she says.
The actress Rossy de Palma, a friend of Martín, has opened the parade held in a fabulous mansion in the rue of Babylone in a white brocaded coat as she ripped off her singer Israel Fernandez. Since then, there have been more than twenty outings, most of them black and white, addressing Andalusian traditions in a subtle and current way, from flamenco to hunting, equestrian imagery or goldsmithing, present in embossed leather motifs or in the headdresses created by Vivascarrión. “I was interested in having it in bright colors to signify the idea of the southern sun and its different shades,” says the designer.
That has been almost the only concession to color by Martín in this collection, in which, in his own words, “there is some Lorca drama.” “They asked me how I was going to reflect the Andalusian light on my black suits, but in Andalusia it happens that way, even black is bright”, he explains. The garments, mostly based on equestrian and flamenco clothing, blur the boundaries of the genres, especially when it comes to something as traditionally binary as uniforms. Masculine jackets or ruffled sleeves merge into designs that could sometimes be unisex. “But that’s what it’s all about,” he argues, “to assume that we no longer have to distinguish between one item of clothing and another, or at least we shouldn’t. Also, the exploration and creative process is much more interesting.”
The fact that Juana Martín is a designer invited by the federation does not exempt her from repeating next season if the organization so decides. She even she can become a calendar regular alongside Chanel, Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier or Armani. Judging by the hug and the praise that the president of the organization, Pascal Morand, has dedicated to Martín, history may repeat itself. Although Juana has already made history.