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Dressing up for a good read: designers invoke literature

4 March 2008

BEIJING – In a rare combination of literature and fashion, 12 Spanish designers have created outfits for characters from famous Latin American and Spanish novels. The resulting work is currently on display until 6 April at the Cervantes Institute in Beijing in a show called 12 trajes para China. Diseñadores españoles dialogan con la literatura (12 Dresses for China. Spanish Designers in Dialogue with Literature).

Twelve leading Spanish fashion designers were contacted and asked to read the novels, then "dress" them for the show.

"The idea of fusing literature and fashion is new. We were very careful about selecting award-winning authors who write prose, essays and poetry, and also about including writers from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Cuba," said Concha Hernández, the curator of the show. Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada, Ailanto, Alma Aguilar, Amaya Arzuaga and David Delfín are some of the designers who created dresses based on the work of Gabriel García Márquez, Miguel Delibes and Carmen Martín Gaite, among others.

Modesto Lomba, who was asked to design an outfit for García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, said at the show’s presentation on Friday that the project helped him express his own "fascination for that old clockwork mechanism" that runs throughout the Colombian masterpiece.

Among the selected characters, there was a preference for "powerful women" such as Laura Díaz, from Carlos Fuentes’ The Years with Laura Díaz, who was dressed by Ailanto, or Carmen from Miguel Delibes’ Five Hours with Mario, who was dressed by Alma Aguilar. Other designers were asked to "dress" an entire novel or a poetic text. This was the case of Juan Duyos, who created an outfit for Carmen Martín Gaite’s The Snow Queen. David Delfín wrote verses by Antonio Gamoneda on his dress and Miriam Ocáriz designed an outfit for Dulce María Loynaz’s Garden.

[Copyright EL PAÍS 2008]