I have a very old friend, Giuseppe Avalon, perhaps one of the greatest period costume designers ever. I met him over ten years ago, when he dated a friend of mine. Last night, Giuseppe and my old friend, John, arrived in San Sebastian for a few days of sun and fun. This morning we headed over to my very favorite antique shop in town, and luckily - it was open! Open only by chance - I usually walk by everyday waiting for the small curtained door to sit slightly ajar. Owned by a 90 year old woman, known as La Chavalilla de Sunbilla, Angeles Ganboa was a servant for many years and now offers up 17th and 18th century treasures that her past employers have left to her. A tiny shop filled to the rafters with crystal chandeliers, linen bed sheets and religious tapestries, it is a diggers delight! As soon as Giuseppe stepped inside, he was mesmerized, and together, Angeles and him discussed every historical clothing detail they could get their hands on. Here is a photo of Seppe holding a 19th century opera cape, hand beaded with jet and fringed with ostrich feathers.
There is an upstairs loft at the shop - and, according to Angeles's daughter, no one has ever been upstairs in 30 years, except for Angeles. Every year I visit the shop I ask to look upstairs, just look, not even touch anything - and every year the answer is the same - no. I imagine there to be trunks full of old textiles, silk ribbons, and flowers, When I have exhausted Angeles, she usually climbs the staircase and digs around for a bit then descends the stairs with her arms full of old bits and pieces.
After an hour of looking, Giuseppe and I had made a small pile of special pieces. We were told to come back in a day or two after Angeles had thought about the prices. She then explained to us that it is not because of money that she sells these precious items, it is because of her love affair with the past. Giuseppe and I both knew exactly what she was talking about.