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From shoeing Dalí to producing for Yves Saint Laurent: the Spanish Castañer espadrilles that Jill Biden has bought | Present

Jill Biden landed this Sunday night in Madrid on the occasion of the NATO Summit, two days before her husband Joe Biden, the president of the United States, to participate in a series of events in the capital. On Monday morning, she was with Queen Letizia at the Palacio de la Zarzuela, to later visit together the headquarters of the Spanish Association against Cancer. That same afternoon, the first lady of the United States wanted to take advantage of her free time to go shopping in the Madrid neighborhood of Salamanca with two of her granddaughters, Maisy and Finnegan Biden.who have accompanied her on her visit to Madrid.

Biden walked through the streets of the capital surrounded by a retinue of bodyguards in a pink floral print outfit made up of a short-sleeved T-shirt and a pleated skirt, which she combined with black wedges tied at the ankle from one of the brands that They also make up the wardrobe of Queen Letizia, the Spanish Castañer, a firm that she did not want to miss the opportunity to visit on her shopping day in Madrid to acquire a new pair.

Jill Biden, with espadrilles from the Spanish footwear firm Castañer. Photo: Getty

Queen Letizia is not the only one royal who has worn the famous espadrilles of the Spanish footwear firm for which the first lady of the United States has now also opted. Kate Middleton has worn them on more than one occasion, Meghan Markle included them in one of her outfits on her official trip to the Fiji Islands and Princess Sofia of Sweden has also been seen on occasion with one of the models of the Spanish footwear firm. Her designs have become a must have for royal houses and also for a long list of celebrities international like Anne Hathaway, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alexa Chung or Emily Ratajkowski.

Queen Letizia, during her visit to the latest edition of the Book Fair, on May 27, in Madrid, wearing Castañer espadrilles. Photo: Getty

a family business

The origin of Castañer dates back several decades, when the artisan Rafael Castañer began to make and sell espadrilles in 1776. However, it was not until 1927 that Luis Castañer founded the firm together with his cousin Tomás Serra in a small workshop in Bañolas, in Catalonia. A company that began by designing the footwear that peasants traditionally wore to work in the fields and that went on to conquer the fashion industry at the hands of Lorenzo Castañer and his wife Isabel Sauras, the next generation of the family house. In the fifties, they began to play with the classic peasant model and reinvent their aesthetics, managing to carve out a niche for themselves between the Catalan middle class and the exclusive European tourists who then visited the Spanish coasts. Great personalities such as the painter Salvador Dalí walked around his hometown, Figueres, wearing a pair of the company’s espadrilles and Hollywood actresses such as Grace Kelly and Catherine Deneuve also began wearing her designs.

Salvador Dalí, in a series of photographs at his home in Cadaqués, on the Costa Brava, wearing Castañer espadrilles, in 1955. Photo: Getty

But their big break came when they met Yves Saint Laurent in Paris in the seventies. The prestigious French designer was looking for a craftsman to make a specific model of espadrille and he found them. They developed a red wedge design (being the first wedge espadrille in history) and green and gold details that Saint Laurent took to the catwalk and marked the launch of the brand. “We saved the espadrille from a future museum and kept it alive in a very contemporary way,” Sauras recalled in an interview for New York Timeswhere he also assured that they are the only Spanish company that survived after the heyday of jute-soled footwear between the 1930s and 1950s.

The brand has continued to thrive ever since. In addition to continuing to make espadrilles for Yves Saint Laurent, they have also made designs for major brands such as Chanel, Hermès, Christian Dior or Louis Vuitton and have launched capsule collections in collaboration with luxury brands such as Manolo Blahnik or Missoni, while continuing to work on their own collections that sell in different points of sale around the world. Little remains of the designs worn by farmers of yesteryear. Espadrilles have undergone both technical and aesthetic changes in recent years, but the use of natural materials, craft production and tradition continue to be their hallmarks. Its ability to reinvent a design of popular origin has led the brand to position itself as one of the international reference firms in this type of footwear and its esparto wedges with covers in different fabrics and colors have become a classic in uniforms. of the summer.

Grace Kelly, together with Cary Grant, on the French Riviera during the filming of the movie ‘To Catch a Thief’, in 1995, with Castañer espadrilles. Photo: Getty

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