Illustrations: María Jesús
“One of my fondest memories as a child is wandering the Gothic quarter of Barcelona some days before Christmas,” muses artist María Jesús. “I’d remember enjoying the wintery atmosphere, having some hot chocolate with churros and buying some new figurines for the manger we used to prepare every year,” she says.
Barcelona is, of course, more than the sum of its tapas and Dali’s and Gaudí’s. For accomplished local illustrator and GRAZIA guest editor Jesús, the Spanish city is an ever-evolving piece of modernity wrapped in its glorified past. In the latest instalment of GRAZIA’s exclusive At Home City Guide series – a one-stop shoppable gazette designed for you to capture a little piece of the beauty of a city from your living room – Jesús has delicately imagined the wistful relationship Barcelona has with her residents and visitors; a notion explored as Jesús put paintbrush to pad to illustrate the window scene you see above.
“I wanted to represent the beauty of a sunset in Barcelona with a view from the mountains to the Mediterranean sea and Gaudí’s magnificent architecture.”
“[Illustrating] is always a spontaneous process as I know how it starts (blank paper and pencil) but I never know how it ends,” Jesús continues. “During the process, many initial ideas change and I love playing and being intuitive. I leave the total control of it to my mind, hands and materials.”
“The illustration becomes some sort of a living being.”
While Jesús’ Barcelona days may have been spent “walking the city with my love” in the past, today is a different experience as parts of Europe remain in lockdown. “I remember having no plans at all and just wandering the city from one place to another, enjoying the streets, a nice meal, some shopping, a chai latte in a cool café and the beautiful sunset,” says the artist.
From Antoni Gaudí’s gothic mosaic architecture to the fluid forms of Surrealism’s unofficial home to its lesser expected natural fauna, Jesús ignites a welcome Catalonian wanderlust.
Immerse yourself in this guest editor’s Barcelona here.
FOR CULTURAL CONTEXT
The Shadow of the Wind is a tale of love and mystery in the years following the Spanish Civil War. Hailed triumphant by critics, the Spanish author’s New York Times bestseller was a glorious return to authentic Gothic storytelling and is essentially a story within a story. Protagonist Daniel Sempere unfolds an intriguing case as he sets out to find the written works of an author by the name of Julian Carax. However, as he digs deeper he becomes entangled in a decades-long secret that goes far beyond the narrative he began with. A hauntingly romantic discourse that is beautifully echoed by its Barcelona setting.
La Sombra del Viento (The Shadow of the Wind) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón SHOP NOW
FOR MAGIC HOUR
In response to three months spent in quarantine, Jesús looked to transform her evening routine; a subtle aid in coping with lockdown. “At home, we used our balcony to have our ‘Aperitivo’ moment,” she says. “A glass of wine or Vermouth, some tapas and nice views.” Traditionally used for medicinal purposes, Vermouth – an aromatised fortified wine steeped in herbs and botanicals – originated in Turin in Italy. Pronounced Vermut by the Spaniards, it has quickly become a popular and key ingredient in classic cocktails like the Martini, Manhattan and the Negroni. Allow this simple Vermouth potion to inspire your next Aperitivo hour.
FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD
For tourists and locals alike, Paella is the very essence of Spanish Cuisine. Born from the region of Valencia where the vibrant rice dish was first created, the term “paella” is not a reference to its ingredients but rather to the paellera, a large pan that looks like a flat wok. Connected with special memories for families and friends, this recipe can be served within 30 minutes and is perfect for a weeknight feast.
Spain-based label Rita Row is a nod to slow fashion, founded by local designers Imma Serra and Xènia Semis. Synonymous with feminine pieces with a quirky touch, the majority of the brand’s fabrics are OEKO TEX certified, created for the modern, hard-working, well-travelled woman who is sensitive to details. May we recommend this knitted hat.
COLMILLO DE MORSA
Designed and assembled in Barcelona, Colmillo de Morsa (meaning ‘walrus tusk’) works to a unique motto: beautiful things have infinite forms, so do the people that look at them. A GRAZIA favourite, the brand was born in the Spanish capital in late-2009 by designer Elisabet Vallecillo who finds her inspiration in primary elements, organic elements and creative nature. Colmillo de Morsa strikes a considered balance between tradition and modernity – attention to detail and a nod to hand craftsmanship. The raw material is characterised by natural fabrics that transmits warmth and personal sensibility, like these earrings.
Colmillo de morsa, SLIDE BLACK EARRINGS, SHOP NOW
Etnia Barcelona is a well-known local staple famous for taking inspiration from art and cultural movements. This season, the label has partnered with Spanish painter Ignasi Monreal to bring a surreal dimension to your eyewear. Taking cues from the familiar works of John Berger’s Ways Of Seeing, Monreal creates ‘peripheral vision’ and thus plays with the idea of having an extra pair of eyes and never missing a chance to find inspiration. It gives whole new meaning to double vision.
ETNIA BARCELONA, IGNASI MONREAL SUNGLASSES SHOP NOW
At Barcelona-based retail store Dr Bloom, a new collection drops every month – and you can always expect a bold and unique piece. In a bid to transform the usual shopping practice, each shop is like a colourful micro-universe, thus creating a dynamic experiential offering. Each line is limited so you will have to move quickly to score your favourite looks.
Collar Cadena Retro Naranja SHOP NOW
Unbeknown to most, Loewe’s tan Gate bag is named after the gold-tone metal hinge at the side – originally inspired by the gate latches of JW Anderson’s childhood in the Irish countryside. The coveted leather goods from Loewe are crafted in Spain with each featuring the label’s culty Anagram embossed logo. This style features a slender cross-body strap, white topstitching and is finished with a burgundy leather lining. Carry it across the body of a sweater and leather culottes for a relaxed daytime look.
Loewe Gate Pocket leather crossbody mini bag SHOP NOW
Spanish shoe brand Naguisa’s ethos is simple: “What’s the point of having pretty shoes if you can’t walk in them?” Utilising jute material, the brand solved this common dilemma by reviving the natural material, giving it a beautiful shape and making it utterly functional by way of the Saso shoe. Featuring a cow leather upper, engraved details and neat buckle, it comfortably forms to the woman as she swiftly moves about Barcelona’s back streets.
“If I were to create a scent that resembles Barcelona, I’d make a soft fresh scent; a mix between the sea breeze and a Mediterranean forest (pine and rosemary),” says Jesús. Loewe in this case is the obvious contender. This year Jonathan Anderson released a wide collection of scents inspired by his own childhood memories, stemmed from the vegetable garden. Think, honeysuckle, beetroot, juniper berry, tomato leaves, coriander, liquorice, scent of marihuana, luscious pea, oregano, cypress balls and ivy. Your average scent diffuser these are not, however. In a multi-faceted layering of fragrance, the scents also draw influence from the meticulous recording of plant life by artists working during the Age of Discovery, including; the cyanotypes of algae by the British artist, Anna Atkins, the illustrations of exotic South American flora by the Spanish explorer, Mutus, and the work of Kazuma Ogawa, who pioneered photomechanical printing as a means to document the flowers of Japan. In short, these diffuser sets are unlike anything else conceptualised and will surely spark nostalgic moments from European getaways.
LOEWE IVY ROOM DIFFUSER SET,SHOP NOW
The spoils of Barcelona are many. But how can one fully immerse themselves into a culture without appeasing the ear? Study, read, nap or prepare a Vermouth-style beverage while listening to traditional Spanish strings. Disfrutar!