Barcelona seduces Topolina, the fashion atelier of Moroccan exoticism

Last 12th September set up shop in Avinguda Pau Casals 2 the fashion store Topolina, from French designer Isabelle Lallemang and her son Pierre-Henry Ramaget. Lushness, colour, a hotchpotch of fabrics, a dream-like world that transports the customer to an oasis in Morocco, the country where Topolina also has her own store and atelier, and the place of origin of most Mediterranean-inspired fabrics which, transformed into timeless designs, remind us that the Mediterranean is in our veins and that colour is part of our essence.

B

arcelona steals the heart of anyone who visits it. No question about it. There are some who, as a result of this enchantment, decide to set up shop there and do it in less than a month. Owners of a store and an atelier in Tangier, several businesses in Marrakesh and a store in Brussels, Isabelle and her son Pierre-Henry went on holidays to Barcelona. The energy of the city, paired with its peace and calm coming from its privileged position between the seaside and the mountains, topped with its architecture and Mediterranean way of living, totally captivated them. Walking around the area of Turó Parc, they bumped into small premises in Avinguda de Pau Casals and embarked on a business venture opening a new Topolina store, bringing the freshness and exoticism of Morocco, the place of origin of most of its fabrics and designs. A dream come true, yet another surprise from fate. But Barcelona is an enchanting place. So much so that the store is headed by the Belgian Christine Vero, who has not hesitated to move to our city.

Isabelle is a demiurge of sorts. In her Tangier-based atelier, where she lives and words, cuts patterns, blends prints, adds accessories, designs finishes that she later sends to Marrakech and Fez. She can never stay put. “I need to work with my hands. I suddenly wake up in the morning, and change the lining of an overcoat, while I come up with a new idea for designing a shirt, which I will cut a pattern of…”, she explains. Topolina, her nickname, is not a misnomer, as she loves cooking with a wide range of ingredients and making new recipes every day, just like she does with clothes. When she was young, she studied Art history, but she spent the weekends at a former Dior’s dressmaker’s, where she learnt to make designs, cut patterns and tailor. “Fashion has always been my passion”, she admits.

“I love Dries Van Noten, Marni and Etro. As a matter of fact, I liked the fact that our Barcelona store is located near Etro”. Certainly, the stores around Turó Parc stand out because they show exclusive outfits that break away from corrent trends and bet on their own and unique hallmark.

“It’s paradoxical that in Barcelona, so multicultural and Mediterranean, people tend to wear dark and sober colours. Even catwalks are usually held in poorly-lit spaces”

It is impossible not to compare her with Yves Saint Laurent, who after working for Dior, moved onto haute couture and embraced ready-to-wear and gave it her own and unique style, with such outfits as the kaftan or the Saharan dress, from Africa. Algerian-born, she decided in 1966 to visit Marrakech with her partner and business associate, Pierre Bergé. As he confesses in the book Yves Saint Laurent. Une passion marocaine: “We woke up and the sun was shining. (…) We will never forget that morning because, in a way, it marked our destiny “. From then on, they would escape to Marrakech whenever they could, and even built a house that went on to become the Yves Saint Laurent’s Museum. Getting lost in its alleys, sensing the scent of mint and spices, seeing the snake charmers, and above all, the many colours and patterns on African fabrics conquered Saint-Laurent’s heart completely.

As you walk into Topolina, you get transported to A Thousand and One Nights and, like Saint-Laurent, leave behind the hustle and bustle of Francesc Macià (in his case, of the Paris’ streets) and you delve into a world of delicate fabrics and sophisticated patterns. “Such a refreshing store was much needed. It’s paradoxical that in Barcelona, so multicultural and Mediterranean, people tend to wear dark and sober colours. Even catwalks are usually held in poorly-lit spaces. Topolina stocks incredible outfits and, besides, offers a limited production of each model, so that you can feel very very special with its outfits”, explains Maria Borges, stylist and window-display designer. “I love patterns, I still have a Topolina dress that my mum gave me from Morocco, I wear it a lot and people always like it. I personally think that, in Barcelona, we should begin to dress more daringly”, states Paola Steanton, PR.

The opening of the new store was attended by many friends and acquaintances of Isabelle and her son, and, despite the rain, many people went, curious about the event and the store concept, decorated with vegetable Printing murals, vintage furniture, pictures of historical clientele and small cornices with handbags, scarfs… ”Each store has a different character: in Brussels, the store has a brocanterie-style, typical of the Belgian capital city. We have given a more Mediterranean air to the Barcelona store”, says Pierre-Henry, the person who deals with the company’s financial aspects. “In Marrakech, we have a store dedicated exclusively to clothes and men’s accessories, an idea that we might implement in a small corner in this Pau Casals’ store”, he adds. We also sell online and some multi-brand stores across the world.

With a price range between 130 and 500 euros, Topolina is a store where you can find impeccably-cut clothes, silk or velvet fabrics, and tasteful colour schemes and patterns, which are more suitable than many sober pieces of clothing that we often choose. The Moroccan charm has a stopover in our city. Barcelona seduces at first sight.