Barcelona Fashion Week, Part I

Barcelona may not be on the usual roster of fashion capitals. But as any (now peaceful, apparently) ETA separatist will tell you, the city is still very much a capital. And where there’s capital, there’s fashion. Here, our favorite fall collections from the heart of Catalonia, Spain…

Juan Antonio Ávalos‘ men’s collection, which opened Barcelona Fashion Week (aka 080 Barcelona Fashion), was an homage to electro music. Not the maligned variety that popped, then fizzled, on the scene some years ago, but the original electronic instrument, the theremin, developed by a Russian scientist in the 1920s. A small, eccentric group of musicians emerged in the decades since, which is what Ávalos riffed on with his collection, as well as the country’s fascination with extraterrestrials, a result of the simultaneous Russian space program.

It was a lot to take in. Some looks never got off the ground—in particular a sporty red, belted suit with a fur scarf draped across the shoulders—but for the most part, we saw lift-off. Ávalos, who worked with Bernhard Willhelm in Paris (and it shows) before launching his own label two years ago, did well with shiny nylon track suits worn with bright Nike sneaks. The clear highlights, however, were spacesuit-like, cracked-leather parkas that came out to a suitable soundtrack of beeps, chirps and vocoder drones.

Swashbuckling monk. Innkeeper on a safari. Robin Hood as desert nomad. These were some of the strange, improbable hybrids scrawled in my notes for Karlotalaspasas (another hybrid, short for Karlota Laspalas). They may not square in the mind, but oddly, they did on the runway. Okay, maybe the burlap hoodie was a little over-the-top, but the plethora of beautiful outerwear maybe everything okay again. Two-toned brown jackets with color-blocked pockets and olive-drab military overcoats worn with shortened pioneer pants seemed unique to Barcelona. And it’s always nice when a men’s collection is designed by a woman. She may just make long johns cool.

Dropped-crotch cashmere pants? Striped varsity sweaters with peplum? A tasseled knit bow tie? Do such things exist? Yes, in Barcelona. These were a few of the offerings from Ángel Vilda, the name of whose Brain & Beast label hints at a listless yet sophisticated, moody yet collegiate aesthetic—like something out of Heathers. The leathers in black and preppy professorial colors, too, were something to write home about, as was the closing look, a head-to-toe second skin of yellow and black plaid. Take away the tasseled knit gloves—and yes, maybe the tasseled bow tie—and you have a pretty killer collection.

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