The clothing worn during the Middle Ages, as well as the preceding and immediate post-medieval periods in Galicia, is not well-preserved. However, we can still glean valuable insights into the attire and textile production of the Galician people through literary texts, remnants of sewing materials, and even testamentary records. Unfortunately, the damp Galician climate and the harsh conditions under which clothing was worn contributed to the deterioration of these garments, making their survival quite challenging. Consequently, the oldest pieces on display in the recently inaugurated exhibition "Con fío" at the Cidade da Cultura in Santiago, which will remain open until September, date back to the 18th century. To envision the fashion of earlier decades, we must rely on our imagination, artistic depictions, recreations, and even funerary monuments to gain a glimpse into the clothing of Galicians during those times.
Although the absence of tangible garments may diminish the immediate visual impact, the exhibited pieces are no less captivating. So, slip into a pair of comfortable shoes that will keep you on your feet all day, and make your way to the Cidade da Cultura for an enjoyable afternoon exploring Galician fashion throughout the millennia. "Con fío" invites us to dive into the history of fashion in Galicia, delving into the intricacies of textile production and the distinctive styles that have graced the region.
The exhibition allows us to trace the evolution of fashion, starting from the Castro culture, through Roman influences, and the advent of self-expression through clothing in the 19th century, all the way to the more recent Galician textile industry. Among the showcased items, you'll find an assortment of shoes. In fact, the oldest wardrobe artifacts on display are 17th-century leather shoes—a fascinating glimpse into the sartorial choices of historical Galicia.
One thing the exhibition makes abundantly clear is that the relationship between fashion and Galicia is not a recent phenomenon. It was not solely Inditex that brought the fashion industry to Galicia. Throughout the 20th century, numerous companies attempted to establish themselves in the world of fashion within the region.
Before the Inditex boom, there was even a specialized shirt company that struck a deal with Salvador Dalí to produce the famous "Dalí shirt" in the 1960s. The painter received 125,000 pesetas for the agreement, along with one peseta for each shirt sold. The brand, Regojo, launched an aggressive marketing campaign, propelling the garment to commercial success. Decades later, alongside the rise of Inditex, several Galician designers became prominent figures in Spain's contemporary fashion scene. It was a time of brands like Adolfo Domínguez (rumored to have even placed one of his jackets in the trendiest series of the moment, "Miami Vice") and groundbreaking concepts like the beauty of wrinkles.
While specific surviving garments may be scarce, this exhibition reminds us of the enduring connection between Galicia and fashion. It encourages us to appreciate the ingenuity and creativity of Galicians throughout history, not only in textile production but also in their unique and forward-thinking sense of style. A visit to the Cidade da Cultura offers an opportunity to explore how Galicia has made its mark in the fashion world, showcasing both its rich textile heritage and its distinctive flair.