W.white lace on brown skin and light, fluttering fabrics on the blue sea were only possible in Ibiza in gray Spain under Franco’s dictatorship. The hippie culture of the late sixties and the rural society of the Balearic island, which was just beginning to flirt with tourism, were combined in creative tolerance. After art and architecture, it was fashion that captured the interest of visitors.
The strict costumes of Ibiza’s inhabitants, made of thick, often dark fabrics, made of wool, cotton, linen, hemp and silk, with shawls, numerous undergarments and preciously embroidered skirts, mixed with Far Eastern influences. The freedom that many felt on the island was also expressed in the outfit. Instead of veiling, the self-confident display of the female body in comfortable fluttering clothes was the order of the day. Americans, French, Spaniards and Germans Dora Herbst and Armin Heinemann designed this new style with lots of white cotton, floral fabrics, black lace and casual, playful fantasy, which became a trademark as Ibiza fashion and Adlib. The name is derived from ad libitum, which means “at will”. Under the motto “Wear what you want, but with taste”, they began to market this fashion on the catwalk.
A German was the first to shape the style
Now the island government is celebrating 50 years of Adlib with exhibitions, films and on June 12th the anniversary fashion show in front of the charming old town backdrop of Ibiza. Last year it only took place virtually, this year it is only for a specialist audience. Ordinary mortals can follow the performances of the 16 fashion designers online. Top model Nieves Álvarez presents the show.
Ibiza fashion owes its success to many influences. The then very young German Dora Herbst was the first to shape the style. She not only had the island in view, but also wore the Ibiza look abroad from the start. She went to Tokyo, Paris and New York, dressed Romy Schneider and Brigitte Bardot. The Spanish government honored her with prizes and financed trips. She still has her boutique in Ibiza’s marina today. On the Balearic island, the self-proclaimed Yugoslav “princess” Smilja Mihailovich des Hypes took on and organized a first fashion show in 1971 under the name Adlib. She was “the absolute magician in public relations” and knew God and the world, writes Armin Heinemann about the “princess”. The German architect came to the island in 1972 and opened “Paula’s”, a boutique and fashion brand in the old town that became a legend.
The designers have adopted the natural fabrics, embroidery, borders and lace and the love for careful craftsmanship from Ibizan fashion. The tailors and seamstresses on the island were able to do the craft. Without them, the boom would not have happened. At the same time, they benefited and were able to create an independent source of income for the first time. Economic independence was almost unthinkable in the archaic society of Ibiza in the sixties and seventies. Hundreds of women became employed thanks to the fashion industry: they sewed, wove, dyed and ironed, knitted, embroidered and made lace. They took the time that was necessary.
Dora Herbst sees with regret that there are no longer any foreigners among them. “When we started with Ibiza fashion, we were an international group. Today, it seems, the focus is entirely on the Ibizan fashion designers. “
Queen Letizia in a white dress with eyelet embroidery
When Spain’s royal couple visited Ibiza last August, Letizia enchanted them in a white dress with eyelet embroidery from the “Vintage Ibiza” brand. Alberto Serra, who founded the label together with José Antonio Marí, has been with Adlib for seven years and cannot hide his joy. The Queen had chosen the label on the Internet. The royal family had contacted him before visiting the island. He flew to Madrid with a large suitcase, and Letizia opted for the white dress. “It doesn’t show anything, it’s almost classic and therefore ideal for you,” he says. They are still preparing shipments to Cuba and the USA. “The effect is huge. People love the simple dress that looks so timeless. “
Despite Corona, the Adlib fashion designers had a successful appearance at Paris Fashion Week in September. The island government sponsors such trips to promote Ibiza’s image. The requirements are high: “If you want to belong to Adlib, you have to run your own workshop on the island, design and manufacture the pieces here,” says Serra. “Handcraft and natural materials characterize the clothing. This is still a quality feature to this day. Pure handicraft that reflects tradition, culture and history. “