The June 19th coronation King Felipe VI and Queen Letiza of Spain has given the world a new royal fashion icon. Ever since former Spanish King Juan Carlos’ decision to abdicate his throne had been announced, Queen Letizia’s image has been appearing all over international magazines and online as even more of a style idol.
With good reason! Queen Letizia is gorgeous, dresses with elegance and flair and is basically a perfect embodiment of ladylike style. Long praised for being a ‘thrifty’ royal by wearing certain outfits on many separate occasions, Her Majesty has a wardrobe containing options from both the high and low end of the retail market.
With an upcoming multinational tour on the agenda following their coronation, royal watchers across the globe will be paying avid attention to every movement that the new King and Queen make. It is a prime opportunity for them both to promote the best that Spanish industry has to offer, and in Queen Letizia’s case, much of this attention will be directed toward her fashion choices. This tour will be considered a formal occasion, meaning that she will be wearing mainly high-end designers- don’t expect to see very much Zara, Uterqüe or Mango on the Queen’s person for this trip.
I have said before that she is an advocate for Spanish designers, but let me clarify that she champions mainly Spanish designers who have based their houses in Spain rather than Spanish designers who operate out of other countries. So, instead of dressing in Balenciaga, Fortuny, Manolo Blahnik or even Paco Rabanne, Queen Letizia mainly chooses creations from Lorenzo Caprile, Adolpho Domínguez, Ailanto, Hoss Intropia and, of course, Felipe Varela.
I know that some readers may not recognize these names, but trust us, you’ll be hearing a lot about them soon. With this royal tour, Queen Letizia will not just be the Queen of Spain, she will become the equivalent of a walking global advertising campaign for Spanish designers. In every part, her role and wardrobe contains the power to change a designer’s worldwide recognition- which in turn promotes the desire of retailers to stock said designer- which changes the designer’s business for the better. Just as The Duchess of Cambridge’s liking for Jenny Packham has opened up even more of an international clientele for the designer, Queen Letizia’s wardrobe choices will undoubtedly do the same for any designer that she chooses to wear.
One designer who stands to gain a lot from this opportunity is Felipe Varela, a Madrid based designer who has dressed the Queen for many formal occasions. He is said to be her favourite designer, as she often chooses pieces from his prêt-à-porter collections when holding audiences and hosting formal receptions, while his atelier has provided her with couture gowns for the majority of the black-tie events that she has attended.
It is easy to see why Felipe Varela is one of Queen Letizia’s favorites- his clothing provides her with choices that correspond perfectly with her chic but uncomplicated personal style.
The Felipe Varela label has been a recognized brand in Spain since the early 1990s and since the start, it has been known for producing opulent but understated clothing of the highest quality. Varela’s occupation with quality stems from his education at the prestigious Esmod College in Paris, where he studied pattern making and design. While in Paris he worked for international couture houses Kenzo, Dior, Thierry Mugler, Lanvin, Angelo Tarlazzi and Torrente, an experience that give him a firm foundation in the running and expectations of a high end couture house.
He eventually went on to study haute couture and textiles at the I.F.M. where he was awarded the Oscar for Young Designer.
In late 1993 Varela decided to return to Spain and establish himself as an individual designer. He moved to Madrid in early 1994 and quickly began setting up his self-named company- Felipe Varela- and has since been tirelessly working to establish himself as a top Spanish designer.
In 1996, he made his first presentation at the Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week in the Spanish capital. His fashion week début received extremely positive reviews and Varela continued to present his work at the event. He opened his first Madrid store two years later and today this continues as the operational base of the Felipe Varela label.
In 2000 he opened a chain of Felipe Varela boutiques in El Corte Inglés department stores, the biggest department store group in Europe. From there his work began to gain recognition all over Europe. This move encouraged Varela to start making his clothing available to the international market and he set up his online boutique soon after.
The Felipe Varela atelier produces both couture and prêt-à-porter collections for the two major seasons, as well as a line of handbags and leather accessories (belts, wallets, jewelry, etc.) in exotic skins. His clothing is simple but elegant and incredibly easy to wear with clean lines, impeccable construction and beautiful details being foundation features of his brand. These attributes are characteristic with any designer producing high-end clothing, but surprisingly, considering the quality of Varela’s products, the majority of them are unusually affordable.
His couture creations are seen as the epitome of Spanish luxury, with his exclusive designs often made solely on commission. You can see the influence of Varela’s home country in his use of bright jewel tones and dusty pastels. Spanish lace and embroidery are key features of his work, and they are often incorporated into his creations by subtly layering them over silk or pairing them with unexpected trimmings like crystal and opulent beadwork.
As I said above, Felipe Varela’s couture work is highly prized and extremely hard to come by, but his atelier has recently produced couture in limited capsule collections for retail. Not surprisingly, these pieces were all purchased before the scheduled release date.
I love this label- it’s simple, it’s elegant and I like how the designer uses unique and locally produced materials. I’m definitely aiming to own a few of his couture pieces, but for now I’ll be satisfied purchasing pieces from his fabulous prêt-à-porter collections!
I look forward to seeing what the next season’s releases will be and hope that the Felipe Varela brand will finally begin to gain global recognition and a much larger international following. He deserves it.
P.S. You may be wondering why this post has so many photographs of Queen Letizia- that’s because she is Felipe Varela’s most famous and avid patron, and is basically the one doing all the advertising for his brand. While searching for pictures to illustrate this post it was almost impossible to find photograph’s of Felipe Varela’s work without the Queen (even the label’s Facebook page was sparse!). Anyway, who doesn’t enjoy seeing photographs of the beautiful Queen Letizia?