Once upon a time, in 1843 to be exact, a small store opened just a few meters from Las Ramblas on Pla de la Boqueria. Domingo Taberner Prims was a discerning man, a person that knew Barcelona needed a store that would cater to the people’s fashion needs. This store would become the eye-witness to Barcelona’s history. Surviving upheavals and victories, changes and modernizations that occurred over the years. In 1848, the Liceu was inaugurated and Taberner provided both men and women with the perfect garments to visit the grand opera house.
Strangely enough, inside of this small store, there was a Saint Eulalia hermitage. The store wouldn’t be officially named Santa Eulalia until the 1930s. In 1915, Taberner died without children, leaving the business in hands of his sister, Antonia. In 1918, the Sans family became the official proprietors. They had been heavily involved as store directors, so the transition was only natural. From here, the Santa Eulalia business grew in leaps and gigantic bursts, starting with their Couture presentations in 1926. Pedro Formosa, then head of design, would continue to head each collection until his death in 1970.
Tough years were ahead in the midst of the Spanish Civil War. The store turns its’ hand to producing military uniforms just like so many others. Once that terrible three-year period was over, Santa Eulalia was once again able to concentrate on creating their exquisite garments.
In 1941, womenswear was moved to Paseo de Gracia 60. A new location situated on one of Barcelona’s most glamorous streets. The Plà de Boqueria store was finally closed in 1944 and menswear and children’s garments relocated at Paseo de Gracia 93. Years will continue to flow by and the Santa Eulalia stores stood firm. In 1968, the first prêt-à-porter catwalk show was held, ushering in a new era of ready-made clothes. Their last Couture show was held in 1995.
As the city of Barcelona started its somewhat slow process of modernization, the Santa Eulalia store continued to offer the best of tailor-made clothes for their wealthy clients. In 2009, they relocated next door, settling into a temporary sustainable setting while the refurbishments in the main building at number 93 were under way. After two years of careful and loving work, Santa Eulalia has once again thrown open its doors, presenting a new concept store that embraces that old-world sensibility.
Over 2.000 square meters are waiting to be discovered. Designed by the renown architect, William Sofield, the layout is a cul-de-sac, each room unfolding into the next. The ground floor is dedicated to women’s accessories, a small pop-up store area, (the current showcase being Maison Michel headpieces, relaunched by Laetitia Crahay), men’s accessories and a collaborative exhibition area.
Down the magnificently beautiful staircase, in the very bowels of Santa Eulalia, lies the area dedicated exclusively to menswear. There are casual and sporty garments, ready-to-wear suits, all manner of ties and bows and then… amid the sombre air, the made-to-measure workshop and fabric room. The workshop boasts a glass wall, so it is possible to see the tailors at work. Busy as bees, they cut and measure fabric, working their magic and turning out impeccable suits and shirts. Just to the left, look quietly and see the pattern-storage room. Santa Eulalia treasures away the patterns of faithful customers, allowing for garments to be made without the customer coming in. The cardboard pattern is taken down, the fabric is selected and just as long as girths have not widened, a suit can be run up in no time at all. The changing rooms are as big as my house!
Upstairs, the entire floor is given over to womenswear and all manner of accessories. There is a room dedicated to shoes, another to fashion books. Dotted all around there are original elements from the store’s beginnings. Each piece of furniture has been lovingly restored, buffed and shined to glow with old glory. Up here, in this haven of peace is where the new Santa Eulalia Café is located.
Chef and Director, Sylvia Quintero has created a lovely menu of delicious morsels and has selected the absolute best in bonbons and macaroons, marmalades and teas. The Café serves breakfast and mid-morning aperitifs, lunch and afternoon tea. The small space is accompanied by a gorgeous Eixample terrace, perfect for sipping a glass of wine.
The list of luxe brands is endless. The selection of items is exquisite. The atmosphere is calm and tranquil. The interior design is rich and teeming with history. It is here, within these new walls, that fashion history has been created over the years. That special Santa Eulalia history which swirls and blends with the new modern edge, the new concepts that have been devised to continue for many more years. Why not visit for a while and have a quick bite to eat while drinking in the magic?
Address: Paseo de Gracia 93
Telephone: 93 215 4224
Metro: Passeig de Gracia L3
Mon to Sat 10:00 to 21:00
All photos by Anna Morago – www.annamorago.com