The Best of Pedro Garcia—in Bilbao, Spain
Over the last few years, Pedro Garcia creative heads Pedro García and Dale Dubovich have become our unofficial ambassadors to Spain. Always ready to list the hot spots and point us toward good beaches and great eats, they’re obviously passionate about their roots and eager to share.
A behind-the-scenes shot from the fall issue of Pedro Garcia’s Made in Spain,
their magazine-style lookbook (all images courtesy Pedro Garcia)
Of course, the real proof is in the shoes—and how those shoes are made. Pedro Garcia, the brand, takes a lot of pride in their made-in-Spain ethos—so much so that their seasonal magazine is called Made in Spain. The most recent edition took them to the industrial port of Bilbao to explore, discover and share the city and the fall collection.
We went one step further and traded a few emails with Pedro and Dale to get inside the inside scoop.
The Thread: Each season your collection references a Spanish city, and for fall you’ve trained your eyes on Bilbao. Made in Spain, your seasonal magazine, is a stunning exploration of the architecture and the landscape. Tell us more about why Bilbao really captivates the Pedro Garcia team’s imagination, and how the city ties into the collection.
Pedro García and Dale Dubovich: We always try to make sure that the location where we shoot Made in Spain has the same spirit as the new collection. We imagine the styles in a specific setting, in an area or a city that transmits that same energy. We were attracted by Bilbao’s architecture, the way the city’s contemporary and classic buildings coexist, the harmony of the contrasts.
This way of understanding the line connects with our own design philosophy; we work with materials progressively and our seasons flow, one into the next. Our signature materials and styles are always present, but we revamp and experiment with each collection to create new designs. This season we are showing highly recognizable design classics with a contemporary spirit. They are innovative silhouettes that have evolved from traditional footwear, a process that we feel is part of our identity. The Nicole style, in cordovan leather—an oxford-style upper on a flatform with a serrated sole—is one example. Another is the Queron style, a penny loafer, again in cordovan leather, finished with a glittered welt.
The ruffled, frayed-satin element that comes up in the collection feels like an example of old and new too. It’s been a staple in your collection for the last 10 years, so we can almost think of it as your version of old-world architecture, but the current riffs are like the modern complements to the classic look and feel.
Frayed satin is one of our signature materials. We’ve worked with it for over a decade. It’s a sumptuous material that seems particularly worn by time and use, due to its raw-edge finish. We wanted to give satin a contemporary treatment, bringing it out into the light of day and freeing it from its exclusive association with eveningwear.
Our Albany style, the ruffled ballerina we created 10 years ago, has a certain romantic rebel feel that has lost none of its impact. The spirit that was so innovative when it first appeared has endured over time and kept the design alive, which is something we place a special value on—it’s a source of great personal satisfaction.
Designing it, we were influenced by vintage lingerie-inspired dresses and camisoles, a trend that is still very relevant today. To mark the 10-year anniversary, we wanted to reissue the style and continue its logical development, expanding the range of silhouettes to offer a new perspective on the dichotomy—almost the contradiction—between the fragile nature of the satin and the raw, frayed finish. The result is a sophisticated blend that balances the contemporary and the baroque, as in the ruffled d’Orsay of the Adila style.
If we were planning to visit Bilbao, what three to five places would you insist we visit?
Your first port of call when you reach Bilbao has to be the Guggenheim Museum. Ever since it opened, the titanium curves, location, artwork inside and the sculptures surrounding it have been the driving force of what is now known as the Bilbao Effect. The museum boosted art and design tourism and was the cornerstone of the architectural and urban planning projects that would radically change the way the city conceived of itself.
As a contrast, another option would be to continue by visiting Bilbao’s Fine Arts Museum, with its neoclassical exterior and its outstanding art collection.
Another obligatory visit is the district where both museums are located, a renovated area of the old waterfront called Abandoibarra. Docks, cranes and containers have been replaced by an area of attractive landscaping, intelligently developed, with examples of cutting-edge architecture. And to understand Bilbao’s real character, take a walk along the Nervión river, the city’s backbone, perhaps ending up at the Maritime Museum.
Last but not least, you shouldn’t leave Bilbao without visiting the old town, known as Las Siete Calles—the “Seven Streets.” It’s an unspoilt neighborhood, crammed with small taverns and tapas bars where you can sample a txikito, a small glass of wine and a pintxo, the tapas typical of the Basque country, with delicacies spiked on a toothpick, often on top of a slice of bread. You could start with a gilda, the classic combination of an olive, a green pickled pepper and an anchovy. Drinking wine in small servings, eating delicious pintxos—strolling from one bar to the next with your friends—is the Basque way of socializing, and it makes Bilbao a tapas lover’s paradise.