Thursday, August 16, 2012

Vestits de Quinceñera

I have returned to Spain after 15 hours of flight time from Los Angeles to Barcelona. I returned with disquieting emotions of leaving my family behind, but overjoyed to see my guapo husband after a month's absence. Upon reviewing the pictures I took, the ones I am publishing in this post are to show the viewer and anyone with a Mexican-American background how times have canviat since my heyday for young Mexican-American girls celebrating their coming of age party called quinceñeras  on their fifteenth birthday.

This tradition does not exist in Catalonia, although there is a large Latin American immigrant population in Spain. I wonder if it is a matter of time before young girls from Latin American countries decide to celebrate their fifteenth birthday with formal ball gowns like the ones I saw in window displays specializing in these types of dresses in California. 

In Catalonia and Spain, young girls celebrate their adulthood on their eighteenth birthday with a party called Puesto de Largo, a party introducing their coming of age with a long gown. I have not attended one, but a have a hunch Spanish girls do not wear the type of gowns sold in quinceñera shops in downtown Santa Ana on 4th Street.

My sister had a quinceñera back in 1978 and wore a white dress with a  petticoat underneath, white gloves, and a discreet tiara. The celebration was held at home after a church mass and I dreamed thereafter of my own fifteenth birthday. I loved pulling out the tiara from the closet when no one was looking, wearing it on my head, looking at myself in the mirror, stare at the sparkling tiara and pretend I ruled the world. That was in the late '70s and my dream went unfulfilled in the '80s and the quinceñera was replaced with an intimate backyard party on my sixteenth birthday. I received as a memento to my low key birthday celebration a 14 kt. gold Sweet 16 pendant. 

What I saw in Santa Ana while admiring the law office where my maca cosina works shocked me. Local shops on 4th Street displayed dresses for quinceñera celebrations in bright garish colors, tinselly material, and over-the-top designs sewn by seamstresses and their pattern making little hands. The present tradition resembles a distorted wish to dress like a bad Disney princess in colors no longer symbolizing purity as did the once white or pink dress of my time. Maybe it's my age that faults my understanding of the present tradition to dress in carnival type dresses. 

You be the jutge of these dresses. Què et sembla?

Dresses for hip guests.

My sister did not wear gloves of this type.

Shoes for escorts, wedding pages, grooms...

The ultimate proof these dresses are really worn. Scarlett O'Hare eat your hoop skirt out.

I think I'd wear this one because of the leopard print. 

This is what Tinkerbell would look like as an adolescent.

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