Don Luis de Espana is a vintage clothing label I discovered several years ago. I was on one of my many hunts for vintage when a 70s jersey knit maxi dress in an amazing abstract sea life print caught my eye. Upon closer inspection I discovered the label. I bought the dress and when I got it home began to research the name.
Unfortunately there was not a lot of information about this clothing manufacturer from Spain, though I did find other examples on line of their dresses, most of which had beautiful eyecatching prints.
Recently I acquired two more Don Luis dresses, so started my label research again. This time I came up with a little more information.
Cuban born Felix Arbeo designed fashions for Don Luis.
From a 1970s newpaper article,
“This season marked the arrival of an exciting afternoon and evening dress manufacturer. Don Luis de Espana’s first collection for spring is manufactured in Spain and flown to the states for immediate delivery. The designs are by the talented Felix Arbeo.”
According to this article, Felix Arbeo and a friend escaped Cuba on a boat that was shot at and capsized. They found themselves washed up on a Florida key. After being stranded there for two days they were rescued by a Jamaican fishing boat. In Jamaica he met a Cuban woman who was helping refugees get to Miami. From there he made his way to New York, where he attended the Traphagen School of Fashion. He paid his way through school by selling cushions and scarves.
Eventually he opened his own 7th Avenue showroom and his dresses sold in upscale stores, including Joseph Magnin, Saks, Nieman Marcus and Bloomingdales.
Felix Arbeo designed clothing into the 1980s. I have a lovely black evening gown with his label in it. I still could not find out how long Don Luis remained in business. If anyone sees this post and has any additional info about this company or the designer, please contact me. I’d love to know more.
Not only do I love the mod floral print of this dress, but check out the cage sleeves with black mesh inserts. A very cool design element. And there is a knee high side slit on the left for showing off some leg! Available here
Another Don Luis that is available on my website. Notice the cage neckline and the gorgeous colorful mod floral print.
I know Emilio Pucci is the holy grail in 70s mod print dresses for collectors. But I’ve seen many Don Luis prints I like just as much and because it’s a relatively obscure label, the prices are much less.
So, if you’re a mod print maxi fan, keep an eye out for this label!
Till next time….
Jess/Elegantly Dressed and Stylish for Turning Heads Tuesday
Patti/Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday
Nancy’s Fashion Style for Fancy Friday