Pilar Torrecillas launched her brand,Pilar Dalbat, 18 years ago. However it was only recently, in May 2017, that she was able to join the prestigious Association of Spanish Fashion Designers (ACME), confirming her brand’s status and significance on the Spanish fashion landscape.
Torrecillas, who was trained in business and economy, is an art and architecture enthusiast. “I always loved everything artistic, drawing and sculpture. I always knew I wanted to do something creative. I lived in Paris during six years where I worked as a buyer of ready-made clothing”, she explains.
“I then travelled in Asia which is where I found myself a business partner and we started to work on handmade clothing made in India. My work takes its roots in artisanal products and handmade clothing. Today, everything is made in Spain,” she continues.
Grenada, a melting pot of cultures, is known for its stunning architecture and represents a major source of inspiration for Torrecillas. Walking in its small, luminous streets, she takes in the beauty of its monuments and adds news shapes and colours to her tool box.
“I’m very proud of the fact we always choose to work from places linked to Grenada’s history and architecture. We create our collections by reflecting on those spaces. We talk about what is known to us, what is familiar. I cannot imagine creating clothes based on something I know nothing about, something I have not been immersed in,” she says.
One of her most successful recent collection illustrates this well. Designed for the Spring and Summer 2018, and called Sacromonte, it exemplifies her strong attachment to the Andalusian city.
The delicate motifs, the light colours, the handmade embroidery all reflect the diversity of the neighbourhood of Sacromonte, with its woman sitting by their windows framed by little laced curtains and its young men riding their vividly colourful motorcycles not far from the “cuevas” – the famous caves of Grenada that make it so unique.
The collection was also a way to show off innovative techniques that also make Pilar Dalbat special. In the Autumn 2017, the designer was able to present the first virtual reality fashion show, during the off festival of Mercedes-Benz Fashion week. Viewers could see the outfits, suspended in the air in a large room in Madrid but also traded to Grenada by putting on VR glasses to admire the same clothes presented at the Abadia, an abbaye in Sacromonte.
The 2018 winter collection presented this January in Madrid, known as “La Brecha” also talks of Grenada in an original way by showcasing one of its most artistic places: the Jose Guerrero Centre. As the name suggests, this contemporary art centre hosts the paintings of the expressionist artist Jose Guerrero and also welcomes a number of important temporary exhibitions.
“This new collection does not speak of the painter’s work in itself but it’s a reflection about the centre and the artworks you can find inside it. We work a lot like other creators, but our starting point is unique here. We took this very unique physical space, and we thought about what it means. We translated this meaning into fashion”, Torrecillas explains.
The clothes that come out of this process are cut in a simple manner and white dominates, just like it does inside the art centre. Other colours borrowed from the artist’s own paintings are added: bright yellow, bloody red and vivid blue. “We used bright primary colors, which was fascinating for us because there are not usually part of our style”, the designer explains.
While all the items in the collection are linked one way or another to Guerrero and his centre, a few are more successful than others at integrating the vivid art of the painter to Pilar Dalbat’s feminine and contemporary style, and at creating something really original. The blue trousers worn and presented by Torrecillas herself, as well as a sensual red dress are among the most interesting pieces.
Beyond the outfits, it’s actually the designer’s choice of having the clothes presented by women she knows, friends and clients of different age and background, and not by models, which makes her collection stand out. It tells more about her and her method than any of the clothes that make up “La Brecha”. Her philosophy really is to create outfits for all women.
Presenting her work in this way, in Madrid’s Royal Academy of Art, is an important step to reach the goals she has set for Pilar Dalbat: to become one of the major feminine brands across all Spain, for the greatest number of women possible.
Writer: Léa Surugue
Follow Léa @LSurugue