Grand fashion and photo exhibition at the Alhambra in Granada

by Lorraine Williamson
Alhambra exhibition

GRANADA – With the exhibition ‘Henry Clarke and Spanish fashion under the influence of the Alhambra’, a photo session for Vogue from 1968 comes to life. Until June 4 this exposition is to be seen in the palace of Charles the Fifth in the Moorish building complex in Granada. 

The historical photos are accompanied by 60 costumes from Pertegaz, Berhanyer and Balenciaga. The photo session took place in the most famous monument of this Andalucian city. The arabesque exoticism of the Alhambra has always been of interest to Vogue magazine. Therefore, in 1958, the French edition published an eight-page report made in the world-famous monument with French fashions by Givenchy, Balmain and Maggy Rouff and photographs by American Henry Clarke. 

New photo session with Spanish haute couture designers 

Just ten years later, the same photographer was given a similar assignment. This time, a new shoot with the same setting, but for the US edition of the publication. On that occasion, the aim was to showcase Spanish fashion by some of the reigning haute couture designers of the moment. Dresses by Manuel Pertegaz, Elio Berhanyer, Pedro Rovira and Carmen Mir were chosen by Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones and editor of the magazine in Madrid. 

Related post: Unique film about the builders of the Alhambra in Spanish cinemas 

The photoshoot was announced in the October 1968 issue of Vogue as follows: “This year’s Spanish collections are exciting, with beautiful cuts, cleanly tailored coats, lively shapes and good stitching. Evening looks in black and with glitter. All photographed in the Alhambra, in Granada”. The report was entitled ‘The Special Style of Spain for Tailored Days, Gleaming Nights’. 

That photo session was carried out in January with the winter clothing of the following season and more than half a century later forms the basis for the new exhibition that can be visited until June 4 in the Carlos V. palace in the famous Moorish building complex. 

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New exhibition themes 

Rocío Díaz, director of the Alhambra says in El País: “The Alhambra is open to new exhibition themes. It is a firm commitment to creating exhibitions with universal languages that draw new audiences to the monument of Granada.” Díaz wants the monument to be the backdrop to inspire diverse creative fields. Sometimes writers, sometimes painters, photographers or, as of now, fashion designers. 

The exhibition can be seen in the chapel and crypt of the Palace of Carlos V. There, a somewhat labyrinthine route has been set up in half-light with an interplay of reflections and mirrors. Creations of the great haute couture of Spain in the fifties and seventies are reviewed. The visitor walks between evening and wedding dresses or jackets made with the best fabrics. Sometimes sober, sometimes very imaginative with decorations based on rhinestones or lace. 

There are up to 60 dresses by Balenciaga, Pedregaz, Pedro Rodríguez, Elio Berhanyer or Pedro Rovira. Three fundamental but somewhat forgotten designers Carmen Mir, Flora Villareal and Asunción Bastida are also represented through their creations. 

The tour, on the other hand, goes beyond the mere exhibition of these great designs. The pieces on display form a beautiful whole with the geometry of the plasterwork, the tiles and the photos of the Alhambra. 

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