Loewe shines on Barcelona’s Passeig de Gràcia
17 May, 2012
The firm Loewe opened its first shop in Barcelona on Carrer Fontanella in 1910. Today, a little over a century later, a newly renovated flagship store and the first Galería Loewe occupy a prime position on Barcelona’s Passeig de Gràcia.
According to Loewe, “a lot of people are not aware that Loewe is a luxury brand that got its start in Spain”. This is indeed the case, as Loewe, now owned by the French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, was founded in Madrid in 1846, when a German businessman named Enrique Loewe Roessberg joined forces with a group of leather craftsmen who had a workshop in the Spanish capital.
The small company formed by this union was a pioneer in the creation of leather goods and accessories and began to garner attention in the sector with pieces that stood out for their quality and expertise. The firm opened its first store, on Madrid’s Calle Príncipe, in 1887. Eight years later, Loewe was appointed an Official Supplier to the Spanish Royal Crown. At the time, the firm was run by the son of the founder, Enrique Loewe Hinton, and the appointment only strengthened the company’s position amongst Madrid´s aristocracy. Shortly thereafter, Loewe began to also seduce the Barcelona middle-class.
Loewe modernised its workrooms, installed electricity, expanded its workforce and opened its first shop in Barcelona.
As the business environment of Barcelona evolved, Loewe changed locations. After the Carrer Fontanella shop, the firm relocated to Carrer Ferran and finally, when the marvellous Passeig de Gràcia was unveiled, Loewe moved into the premises where it is found today.
Origins and Catalan modernism
For almost 70 years Loewe has occupied the magnificent building designed by the Catalan modernist architect Domènech i Muntaner at number 35 of Barcelona’s luxurious Passeig de Gràcia.
Now, thanks to the company’s commitment to restore the original architectural features of the building, the Loewe shop shines with splendour equal to or perhaps even greater than when Domènech i Muntaner first designed the building.
Entering Loewe’s establishment on Passeig de Gràcia is to immerse oneself in luxurious elegance, beauty in equilibrium and care to the smallest detail. On this occasion, the Loewe design was interpreted by Peter Marino, a leading figure in the design of recognised high-end brands. The project covers more than 640 square meters distributed over three floors. Marino worked with Loewe previously on the design of its boutiques in Valencia and London.
Loewe had previously been working with architects such as Javier Carvajal and the artist Gustavo Torné for the design of its stores. But now it is turning to Marino’s talent to update the stores to a 21st-century concept of luxury.
“Marino’s work is always excellent,” said a Loewe spokesperson, stressing the architect’s ability to “to blend the concept of Loewe’s store with this Catalan modernist space.”
Montse Dalmau, manager of Loewe’s Passeig de Gràcia store, emphasises the “the intensive efforts of the architect and his collaboration with Barcelona City Council’s Department of Historic Heritage.” This resulted in the restoration of roofs, columns, mosaics and original frescoes. “It was wonderful to work on this project. It was a great challenge, but also a great pleasure. The idea was to create a design for Loewe that was also a dialogue with this incredibly beautiful historic building,” said Marino at the inauguration.
Also, in a gesture of deep commitment to history, the company and Marino decided to restore the entrance of the building to its original 1902 location, so now the façade’s arch greets customers, many of whom are Japanese tourists and lovers of Loewe designs. “It’s where the coaches and horses used to enter,” explains Ms Dalmau.
Gallery of History
But Loewe’s commitment to Barcelona does not end there. In addition to renovating this historic shop, Loewe has decided to open Galería Loewe. Also on Passeig de Gràcia, this was used as a temporary location for the shop for the nine months in which the site was being remodelled.
The gallery is open to the public and invites visitors to take a journey through the company’s past, with film footage and vintage pieces. It is also a tribute to Loewe’s pièce de résistance, a handbag known as the Amazona.