Claire Stemen
Claire Stemen
Claire Stemen likes to think and write about fashion as a vital form of communication. She loves clothing and the way we style ourselves, despite always buying the same black turtleneck over and over again. You can find her on Instagram @claire_stemen, or or at

Seville Row: Spanish Undercurrents at Barbara Tfank SS17

Todo es de Color

1_becca_dsf1003After dressing First Lady Michelle Obama and remaining a designer of note in New York since 2001, Barbara Tfank probably needed a well-deserved vacation. Visiting the ancient city of Seville in Spain brought her a tide of new ideas.

For her SS17 collection, a host of beautiful and intricate designs glittered before modern art pieces at Leila Heller Gallery in Chelsea — as eye-catching as the art and architecture that inspired them.

Andalucían Style

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In speaking with the designer, it was clear that certain art pieces and locations made their way to her creative process in a charming homage. Several of the fabrics were made in Spain and she subtly borrowed from art, tile work, and architecture to represent Seville — certainly a Herculean task. But as Barbara said, “it’s a wink and a nod.”

Gesturing to a black and white rose-patterned dress, she dreamily mentions the gardens of Spain, replete with bountiful roses. Many of the dresses borrow from the tiles in the Moorish palaces, the accents a nod to the gold of mosaics or domes.

She dreamily mentions the gardens of Spain …

The references don’t cease with the environment of Seville — the influential art pieces of the 17th century artist Francisco de Zurbarán, known as the “Spanish Carvaggio,” immensely intrigued Tfank. Paying tribute to the master’s illusionist style and richness of color, Tfank created structured pieces of delectable design. Using fabrics like silk, cotton, and taffeta, the graceful textiles of the dresses are as smooth as oil on canvas.

The dresses are as smooth as oil on canvas.

The voluminous sleeves and quiet elegance of these pieces are the kind of style and panache we’ve come to expect from a designer like Tfank. She does not fail in producing effortless (or seemingly effortless) class, despite fashion’s new motto of “anything goes.”

In an age of constant progress, the reflection upon a rich and multifaceted past is less a bore than it is a refreshing repose, a spin in one of Seville’s sunny gardens.


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