The traje de gitana (the flamenco outfit), a classic remodeled.
It is one of Spain´s most recognizable, regional outfits and perhaps the most famous. The traje de flamenco (also known as the “traje de gitana”), a frilly dress with colorful decorations, has become a symbol even an icon of Spanish culture. In fact, most Spanish women (even a few men) have tried on one of these outfits.
Where did this striking dress originate from? Some people think that it is modelled on the clothes worn by Minoans, copies of which can be seen in many museums and which include small, short-sleeved jackets and frilly skirts adorned with lavish decorations. However, this theory has not been proven.
What we do know is that in the middle of the 19th century gypsies and rural women who accompanied their husbands to the different Andalusian cattle festivals used to wear versatile dresses which were designed not only for manual labor but also for the dances which took place around the huts and the fires at nightfall.
For most of the 19th century and in the first decades of the 20th century this dress was only worn by people from the lower classes. It was not until the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition, (which lead to the building of the Plaza de España in Seville) that middle and upper class women decided to adopt this outfit. Of course, they made it more “festive”: they embroidered it with frills, they added more trim and they had it tailored with more eye-catching fabrics and brighter colors.
The idea of modernizing the original regional outfit caught on throughout Spain and in some other countries: the new outfits combined elements of the traditional designs with the fashion trends of the 1920s, which encouraged the use of lavish decorations and tassels while emphasizing a woman´s naturally glamorous figure without the need for corsets. The result was an outfit which was ideal for parties but which could also be worn while dancing, riding a horse and eating outdoors.
All these activities could be done while staying attractive!
This outfit was a great success and it is still being redesigned nowadays. In fact, to this day the traje de gitana is the only regional costume in Spain which has changed its original design and it has its own international fashion gallery, called SIMOF (el Salón Internacional de Moda Flamenca -the International Gallery of Flamenco Fashion).
In conclusion, it could be suggested that several factors contributed to the success of the traje de flamenca: we are talking about a comfortable but at the same time festive outfit, which created and is creating its own fashion trends and flies the Spanish flag but which does not follow the rigid fashion rules of some other regional costumes.