There is a place in Madrid where two worlds hatch. On the one hand, the most consuming, frenetic city, the nerve center of shopping and chain businesses. On the other hand, calm, craftsmanship, memory, seamstress trade. It is about Carmen17, the “design studio with workshop”, as they are defined, at number 17 Calle del Carmen. A bastion from which the artisan is defended, the popular knowledge of sewing and where the contemporary chulapo comes to get dressed.
Sofia Nieto and Arancha Rodrigálvarez They are Carmen17, a name without trompe l’oeils that places this workshop at the epicenter of Madrid’s commercial rage. From there, they throw a reflection: “The private businesses in the area that could generate some neighborhood and local economy They are disappearing. That loss appeals to us and makes us even more interested in sinking into our roots. To reflect on what is going to happen when the intangible value of Madrid has disappeared”, says Sofia.
the suits of chulapa, chulapo or chulape, are a sample of this declaration of intent. “The traditional cannot be reduced to a magnet in a souvenir shop: the castizo has to be alive and the sewing is very authentic too. Madrid inspires us and offers us a lot about this lifestyle in the form of haberdasheries, hat shops… What we intend with the chulapo costumes it is looking towards that Madrid, expressing it through the regional costume”, continues Nieto.
21st century pimps
As Elena Francés, our fellow trend expert, commented, the chulapo suit arises among the working class and from a desire to differentiate itself from the French. Born from the workers and neighbors of the Maravillas neighborhood as a form of expression and to differentiate themselves from the ‘upper class’.
“We like to imagine today’s chulapo very diverse and very involved in the neighborhood. In other words, your neighbor: the chulapo is your neighbor. The one who goes to the meadow and takes the snack ”, comments Arancha in another of those reflections of Carmen’s team17 that shows how in his workshop, the social, the vindictiveis sewn with stitches on each garment.
For this reason, as in a community of neighbors, once the client contacts the workshop to request a chulapo suit, they take the measurements and talk, one talks to know the character well and the needs of that future chulapo. From there, a walk around the neighborhood looking for more neighbors: “we are going to pontejos for ribbons and trimmings; to Center fabrics for the tarlatanas, the interlinings…. If there is embroidery, we go to the Fomento street or Suchil”.
In fact, some very modern vests may sound familiar to you, embroidered with messages such as “I am that” or “Thread garment”. They are, obviously, from Carmen17: “the fact of keeping the backs of the vests with emblems is also due to that objective that we have of recover the traditional with a lot of character”.
In her reinterpretation, Carmen17 embraces all realities: “we don’t want this suit to remain into something anthropological, like a historicist disguise: it has to evolve over time and today, regardless of gender, we want to invite everyone to participate in the verbena, in the meetings without consumingin places where share life”.
Folklore and tradition as a current meeting point, a twist that Arancha explains as follows: “here, whoever comes, a suit will be made according to their concerns, their tastes, their experiences, their corporeality … this encourages a lot of diversity”. In Carmen17 this is also applied to the body, to bodies, thin, fat, whatever they are: “Here we can make clothes for all body sizes and in the same way for some as for others. And this is very dissident, even subversive”, they comment on their work.
The regional costume in the spotlight
This eagerness for recover and update the chulapo suit It also extends to other clothing: “our project is full of roots, collaborations, regional costumes,” they say.
For example, the Eustaquio Rosa manchega slippers (a textile artisan from Albacete) have implemented them in tailoring for their new collection, one that is about to come out of the oven and that has already dressed the cantaor Israel Fernandez for a report. For example, we met the last cap of Montehermoso (Cáceres) who also plants her own rye, braids it, takes care of the trimmings… and we are going to collaborate with her”.
Carmen17’s workshop initiates a conversation with the roots, they tell stories through their garments and help the conservation of these trades removing them from the regional costume: “rescue in some way this way of living, that is not globalizedwhich is closer to the territories and which teaches us how to relate them to the environments”, says Sofia.
The traditional Madrid sewing route
“That we are here sewing is because we have our eyes set on the traditional and artisan of that neighborhood Madrid.” Proof of this forceful expression is that Arancha and Sofía have interwoven, almost without realizing it, a map of madrid very peculiar full of embroiderers, pleaters, dyers… of trades.
For example, for dyes, they go to the San Ildefonso square; in the street promotionthey meet different embroiderers; pontejos (centennial haberdashery on Calle del Correo) is one of its essentials.
Both the Toledo street as Imperial are an epicenter of creativity for this pair of seamstresses: they work with hatters like medranowith fabrics in Bober and silverio housewith Hernanz House (sandals that usually complement the shoes used in Carmen’s photo sessions17), Lobo and Carballo shoes…
But also with the fine art store Poplar Crafts (in La Latina), in charge of business cards and house stamps; the Ortega Chandelier, which fills Carmen’s rooms with candles17; either The Mallorquinain which they buy the violets that they offer to all those who visit the workshop.
“When we see that all this is disappearing we think that it must be possible somehow that this life resists to maintain the cultural wealth of each citizen”, says Sofia.
And this is, in essence, Carmen’s heart17. pure eagerness for preserve ancestral knowledge that they are able to design, to weave our culture; the verification that the seamstresses, who have so silently guarded tricks, details, ingenuity and creativity, They are an inherent part of that culture..