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Biography of Estanislao Solsona Semente

his-01001bio“Everyone at some point in their life thinks they were born too late, missing better and more exciting times. I was born in 1984 - precisely the time my father was overflowing with creativity, and started in earnest to explore the world of fashion - having his first fashion show just two years later. Like most things at that time: daring, free and chaotic; girls modelling the clothes while dancing across a vivid green stripe on the floor - in a pub – weaving in between people with drinks in their hands, wearing impossible geometric clothes inspired by Egyptians (a local paper gave it a title now for posterity: ‘Pharonic dresses made by Estanislao in a country house in Bell-Lloc...’ – locals knew that the word 'country' should have been substituted with 'road')”. The thing is that all this caught me a bit too young - even though my uncles, aunts and my grandparents took me to all the events. I ask myself how would it have been to have lived that experience with the perspective of an older person - with a keener eye to learn - more understanding to know what was going on - and why. That doesn’t really matter anymore, as with the passing of time I realise that I have learnt from the experience - and a lot at that. Being so young at the time magnified the whole episode and gave it an added sense of fascination. Seeing those shows again on videotape - over and over - was like seeing the best movie. The dresses and the models were for me so iconic - just like Madonna and the girls from the B-52’s. It all seemed so admirable: the dresses, the colours, the clumsy models and the music - which was ever so important. There was even the phenomenon of a group of ‘fans’ or ‘groupies’ - and when they visited our house I would feel shy and hide from all of the attention. My father´s designs started with straight lines in the post punk era - and little by little - his artistic adventures attracted him to the style of haute couture - having a high attention to detail and tailoring. His collections were inspired by mixing the medieval period with the decades of the 40’s, 50’s and 60´s - experimenting with postmodern expressions without losing freshness.”

(Memories of Estanis Junior - Estanislao's son - growing up with a fashion design father)

 

Estanislao Solsona Semente was born on September the 18th, 1964 in Torregrossa, a small village in the province of Lleida – during Franco’s Spanish version of Catalunya. He was brought up in a family that had eclectic beliefs and colourful interests. His father was the owner of 9 cabarets - which were early road houses where travellers could 'rest' and be 'entertained'. When Estanislao was still a kid, they moved to Bell-Lloc d’Urgell, where his father’s showpiece was located.

 

Las Vegas was a big house on the National Highway between Barcelona and Madrid - Las Vegas was mainly a cabaret nightclub in the evening, but also a local restauarant in the daytime , and hosted weddings and baptisms at weekends. The whole family and staff lived there. Estanislao was the youngest of three children (the others were Asun - a country hippy; and Ramonet – a mixed-up Bob Dylan wanabee), all who were discovering the hedonism of the seventies. The family was considered a brazen anomaly by the people in the village, as the night time activity soon eclipsed the daytime! They were the talk of the town, but not always in a good way. Estanislao took that first spark of fascination for clothing from the excesses of the shows he saw in the Las Vegas, performed by transvestites and ‘colourful’ cabaret girls - and from snooping in their dressing rooms, full of costumes made of feathers and sequins.

 

his-01002bio“I loved getting inside the dressing rooms of the artists and seeing those ramshackle dresses full of feathers and sequins that later, on stage, looked magnificent. I imagined how many hours of shows the dresses had had to go through and how many people they had made fantasise.”

 

 

 

He began to exploit his recent fashion creation curiosity - which he developed with the help of his brother and sister’s hippy friends. Just before turning eighteen, he escaped to Bilbao with Montse – who was both his muse and model - and would later become his wife and Estanis junior’s mother. In Bilbao he discovered the punk aesthetic which profoundly influenced him and was fundamental in his understanding and his desire to be part of the world of fashion.

 

his-01003bio“We couldn’t find the clothes that we wanted to wear on shops, so I started to buy fabric remnants in a street market. I sewed them with an old Singer machine that we had at home. They were simple squares of fabric from which I would cut holes for the head and the arms. When a dress caught my attention, I unravelled it to find out how it had been made so as to reproduce it as I wanted. I remember the excitement and the rush to finish the dresses that Montse would wear later that same night at a party or nightclub”.

 

From that moment on, he undauntingly made the clothes that he couldn’t find in shops, always propelled by his self-taught vocation. He started to experiment with the creation of dresses for his friends. He has always said that his intention was that the people around him should be dressed in a fun and interesting way. When he was twenty, almost spontaneously, Estanislao’s first collection of spring/summer dresses for women came into being.

His creations soon caught the attention of the press in Lleida and his dresses started to be sold in different shops in the city. He continued working on new designs - still made with re-worked pieces of old clothes, which he stitched together overnight for sale the next day. By the autumn/winter collection for 1986, there were obvious touches of refinement visible on the collars of the blouses, the jackets and the hats – adding and exaggerating organic shapes to the traditional. Even at that early stage, Estanislao’s designs stood out as being colourful and sensual - with minimalist daywear and more risqué evening wear.

 

his-01004bio“I liked to take care of every single detail. We would perfume the cardboard boxes in which we would deliver the orders to the shops. They used to say that when they received the collection, they loved to open the boxes because they were like the letters from a lover.”

 

 

 

The need to grow creatively made him take new risks in 1987, introducing his first joint collection for men and women. It was noticeable that the work on the dresses for women was increasingly more elaborate. Inspiration came from the romantic period, and included multi-usage dresses. His first attempt with menswear was quite different: geometric shapes and straight cuts on the collars, suit jackets were taken in at the waist – with short cropped, high-waisted trousers. This demonstrated his perception of the male body, which was certainly different to the prevailing mood in Spain at the time.

Later collections showed a far greater attention to detail, taking inspiration from the romantic, medieval and baroque periods as well as the 40’s & 50’s. It was at this point he was chosen by Biennial de Barcelona - as one of the “10 best future young designers in Europe”. This paved the way for him to exhibit internationally his spring/summer collection for 1990 at the Pavilion Italiano de Montjuïc, in Barcelona. His clothes could now be found in about 60 stores throughout Spain.

 

Though it had always been characteristic of Estanislao, it wasn’t till the nineties that he strengthened the “made to measure” aspect of the business, inaugurating his Showroom of Alternative Fashion/Costura Diversa in Lleida. With all those unique designs, he created fashion shows for 1993 and 1994 called Catwalk of San Narciso. Clients were invited to step onto the catwalk wearing the dresses they had commissioned - signifying that everyone could have their style on a catwalk. In 1996 his collection ‘El Toro y el Mar’ demonstrated his return to the world of prêt-a-porter. He was invited to Salon Gaudí in Barcelona - in the section of New Creators. The collection was formed by a series of works using controversial iconography. He utilised the bull of Osborne – the ultimate Spanish symbol - and took the iconic image out of its usual context. This original and clever idea of using such a traditional symbol (one which has been omnipresent as giant cut-out billboards on all of the major roads of the country) was a hit that caught the designer by surprise.

 

his-01005bio“I never imagined all the repercussions that El Toro y el Mar would have. Suddenly everyone wanted to have one of my dresses, and celebrities wearing Estanislao appeared on magazines and on television. We were in the media all the time.”

 

 

 

That recognition turned him into one of the most well-known designers in the country, allowing him to return to Salon Gaudí exhibiting his autumn/winter collection the following year. At the same time, he was involved in a series of other projects along with his first foray into soft furnishings included the celebrated cushion collection Tan Gram, which were inspired by a Chinese puzzle. He also produced costumes for plays like Hamlet and Eduard III by Teatredetext and for dance acts like FGL (Oídos de Lorca), by Increpación Danza.

 

his-01006bio“Creating costumes for those projects gave me the chance to get inside dressing rooms again, live the excitement of the premieres and share the emotion with them."

 

 

 

In addition to that, he has designed uniforms for Osborne and the Tourism Board of Lleida. In 1997, the Estanislao Award is created as part of the National Contest for Paper Dresses - which has taken place in Mollerusa since 1963. The award is given to designers that have demonstrated creative innovation with their work, within the contemporary fashion section.

More and more frequently, Estanislao’s regular clients were asking him if he could create their wedding dresses – which directed him to yet another new adventure. He made a whole collection of dresses for brides for the first time, which he premiered at the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya in March of 1999. He gave it the name of Novias de Altura (brides with high standing). Estanislao’s dresses illustrated a completely novel concept in terms of what designers were making for brides at the time: costumes of handmade needle work having minimalist details (thread embroideries with little splashes of colour, inspired by elements of nature and the world of dreams and fairies). He prioritised comfort and elegance by keeping the design simple - and playing down anything else that might make a bride look ostentatious or excessive.

his-01007bio

“The idea was to make two or three samples of bridal dresses so that my clients could have an idea of what could be done. All our team was very enthusiastic about the results, so we continued making samples, and without even noticing it, we had our first collection of wedding dresses”

 

 

 

The success of his tried and tested method of design lead him take one of the biggest steps of his career, the opening of his showroom studio Estanislao Novias in Barcelona in 2004 - exclusively dedicated to the production of bridal gowns. The end of the decade brings new changes to the brand. Along with the bridal collections there is now a collection of cocktail and party dresses for women of all shapes, sizes and ages - all made to measure. The restructuring includes the introduction of a new, fresher image that is now called Estanislao Costura.

 

bio-estan-fiesta2

“Bringing back the collection of evening dresses is like a breath of fresh air to me. Seeing colour dresses on the hangers and on the mannequins gives me that spark of imagination again”

 

 

 

 

Inspired by the haute couture fashions houses of the 1940's and 1950's, the 'Geometric Splendour' bridal and cocktail collections marked a new direction, as Estanislao experimented with volume and movement of the fabrics, whilst staying true to his art of tailoring womenswear.

2011 marked the 25th anniversary of EO Costura | Estanislao. He dedicated this year to all of the women that have worn his creations, confiding in his talent to help them look simply beautiful.

Estanislao continues to work with his clients, while working on artistic projects, and teaching his craft to students of fashion. In 2017, he launched eometric, his academy for teaching his made-to-measure system.

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