Members of the Spanish fashion community are mourning the death of Cristo Báñez, a designer and stylist who had helped to modernize how flamenco dancers dressed and are perceived.
The 41-year-old was reportedly found dead earlier this week at his home in Seville. The cause of death has not yet been determined. A representative from the Spanish National Police in Seville said Friday afternoon, “At this moment, we don’t have any information to confirm about the death of Cristo Báñez.”
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In addition to advising celebrity clients, television personalities and socialites about their fashion choices, Báñez made on-air appearances himself on such programs as Canal Sur-produced talent show “Aguja Flamenca.” Throughout his career he stayed true to his Spanish roots, catering to high-profile Spanish women and supporting the Andalusia community.
Pepa Bueno, executive director of the Spanish Fashion Council, said Friday, “He made flamenco dressing modern, where other designers created styles [that one might see] in a museum. He did it in a more local way, but he was an interesting and funny designer. He also appeared as a judge on another television program about new designers that was very popular for about two years.”
That exposure as part of Quiero Ser with Dulceida and Madame Rosa in 2016 boosted Báñez’s fame, especially in the south of Spain in the Andalusia area, where he grew up. “He was more popular, because he was a funny figure. On television, he was also very energetic and opinionated. He was the kind of person that television producers like to have on air. When you do this kind of program, you like to have these theses type of comedic people [on-air.]” Bueno said.
Plans for a memorial service were not immediately known.
Earlier this year he served as a judge at the Seville International Flamenco Fashion Week. Báñez was reportedly filming for a television program a few days before his death.
Bueno speculated that Báñez would wish to be remembered as “someone who revolutionized or transformed flamenco dressing in order to make it more modern and contemporary.”
Although flamenco dresses are widely associated with the spirited and dramatic flamenco dancers, the art of flamenco has elements of singing and percussion, as well as dancing. Costumes and staging are key pieces of all performances.
Peasants and gypsies in Seville were the first to wear gypsy dresses — the precursor to flamenco dresses — starting in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. What essentially was a robe or dressing gown with ruffles was what many wore for household chores. Over time, embroidery was added and brighter fabric colors were chosen. In 1847, after some Spanish gypsy women and wives of cattle dealers wore these frocks to the April Fair in Seville, the style gained attention. As time went by, the de facto dress code at the annual event drew the interest of the female social set.
Flamenco dresses reflect the the Andalusian culture, and they continue to be worn at traditional festivals and pilgrimages in the region, as well as internationally. The vibrant designs remain the signature look of flamenco dancers.
The Hispanic Society Museum & Library’s director and chief executive officer Guillaume Kientz said, “W are deeply saddened by the loss of Cristo Báñez, an artist whose profound contributions to Spanish culture, most notably through his influence on flamenco’s distinct style of fashion, have made a lasting impact on the community. The Hispanic Society prides itself in preserving the history of flamenco through art, and we will continue to honor Banez’s legacy.”
Báñez’s devotion to his Andalusian community was reciprocated. In a recent social media post, the town council of Almonte “expressed its sorrow” about the loss of the designer and stylist and offered condolences to his family and friends. “The local government team wants to publicly recognize his work in that he had always carried the name of the town of Almonte. He also announced last year’s fair,” the post read. Almonte Town Council representatives did not respond to a media request.
Báñez’s survivors were not immediately known.
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