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In the Closet with Gallery Manager Sol Abaurrea

Words & images by Igor Termenón

Sol was interviewed and photographed by Igor during a sunny winter morning at her flat in Chamberí, Madrid, in January 2020.

Right after quitting her job and just before embarking on a 2-month holiday around Mexico and Cuba, I met gallery manager Sol Abaurrea at her flat in Madrid. At that time, I was creating this website you’re now browsing and we had no idea of what was going to happen just a few weeks later.

This was actually going to be the first feature in True to Size!, but the photos you’ll see below stayed in a roll in my camera for over 4 months and Sol had to return earlier from her holiday due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Although the lockdown may have changed Sol’s clothing choices slightly, I’ve known her for many years and one word that can describe her closet is easy. In fact, I’ve never seen Sol wearing something that feels uncomfortable or overcomplicated.

During our conversation we talked about this, but also about what the art world is wearing, all the clothes that previously belonged to her mum and why she doesn’t need anything else in her closet.

These are the clothes that Sol wears and the stories behind them.

Igor Termenón
Sol Abaurrea

Do you think that working in the art world influences the way you dress?

I don’t think I try to fit within the ‘gallery look’. In fact, I don’t like it at all.

How would you describe that look?

Tailored trousers and jackets with the latest sneakers. Everyone wears the same things at art fairs, all black — it feels like a uniform somehow.

Everyone wears the same things at art fairs, all black — it feels like a uniform somehow.

Are there any specific items you wear when you attend an art fair?

Definitely white shirts. I wear them with dark jeans or tailored trousers. But I’d never wear high heels, I find them too uncomfortable. 

Is there something in your wardrobe you would never wear at an art fair?

Time to play (or meditate)! Sol with her ‘ropa de jugar’ look

My ‘kids t-shirts’. I have many striped t-shirts that make me look like a 12-year-old when I wear them — I don’t think people in the art world would take me seriously. Also, wide-leg jeans. My mum calls it ‘ropa de jugar’ 1, because I look like a child when I wear it.

When do you wear your ‘ropa de jugar’?

On the weekends, usually.

So, do you usually choose comfort over style?

Yes, although I can make an exception, just for a day. But I usually wear oversized, cosy and soft pieces.

Have you ever bought something you knew you were going to be uncomfortable in?

I actually haven’t bought them, but I’ve kept these red leather trousers and I’ve never worn them — I think I would be uncomfortable if I eat whilst wearing them, because they’re super tight. They belonged to my aunt, I think, and one of my sisters2 had them and gave them to me.

I don’t want to give them away, but I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to wear them.

Grab a sculpture as a prop. Sol with a pair of red leather trousers that belonged to her aunt and a printed shirt from her mum

You’ve paired the red, leather trousers with a shirt that belonged to your mum. When did you take it from her closet?

I have a great technique, which I use with my mum and never fails. I take clothes from her closet, wear them a lot of times and she ends up giving them to me. Most of the clothes I got from my mum, I got them this way.

How much of your closet previously belonged to your mum?

50%, at least.

I take clothes from my mum’s closet, wear them a lot of times and she ends up giving them to me.

What about your sisters?

They don’t really care about clothes. I like fashion, but I’m not obsessed about it either.

And what about the other way around? Does your mum ever ask you for something from your closet?

No, although I’ve worn things that belonged to her and I’ve given them back. For example, there’s a scarf — from LOEWE, I think —that she got as a gift when she was 18 years old. After wearing it for a while, I felt bad and gave it back to her.

I have many things that I don’t really wear, and I often ask her if she’d like to have them, but she doesn’t really care. She has too many things and I don’t think she’s interested in having more.

If we asked one of your friends to draw you, what pieces of clothing would they draw you with?

With a pair of trousers, for sure. And a t-shirt or a shirt, and sneakers.

There are clearly lots of jeans in your closet. How many pairs do you own?

I have an issue, I own too many. I like them a lot and find them very comfortable.

Is there any brand or style that you prefer in particular?

LEVI’s because they’re very comfortable and fit me well. I also own some from Calvin Klein.

Is it a piece of clothing you’ve worn since you were little or is this something you’ve started wearing recently?

The first time I ever chose something to buy and wear when I was little, it was a pair of jeans from Pepe Jeans. They were flared with embroidered daisies and I was like 12 or 13 years old.

Some of the many shoes at Sol’s closet and the pair of shoes that belonged to her mum since she was little, and that Sol would save first in case of a fire

What about shoes?

I also have an issue with shoes…

What shoes would you save first from your closet if a fire started at your home?

My mum had these since she was little and I use them a lot – they’re super comfortable. I wear them to work and when I’m out with friends.

What other items would you save?

I wouldn’t actually save any piece of clothing, but I guess I would go for some dresses that belonged to my mum.

Is there any piece in your closet that has a special sentimental value?

This white dress I bought in Mexico. I wear it a lot, although it fits a little big.

Peekaboo! Sol with a hat that belonged to her friend Sofi and a dress she bought in Oaxaca, Mexico

When do you wear all these hats?

Actually, never. I buy them when I travel so I don’t get sunburnt but, after the trip, I never wear them. I hang them on the wall and they stay there.

This one was from my friend Sofi. I took it from her at a wedding, tore it and told her I would fix it. I never did and I don’t think she remembers I have it…

What about bags? Which ones do you normally wear?

I always wear the same two. I have this one my friend Gabriela made — she has a brand called Gabriel for Sach3. And this one from COS, which I bought many years ago and I love. These are the two bags I wear the most.

Two are better than one. On the left, a COS bag Sol bought many years ago and on the right, a bag made by her friend Gabriela

You’re going to be travelling for a long time. What items do you always take in your suitcase?

Lots of swimsuits, I own too many. They bring me joy — it must be because of the colours and good memories. My friends laugh at me because, no matter the season, I always put at least one swimsuit in my suitcase. Just in case the opportunity to use it arises!

My friends laugh at me because, no matter the season, I always put at least one swimsuit in my suitcase. Just in case the opportunity to use it arises!

Is there something you usually wear when you travel?

A pair of blue trousers with white stripes — they’re my travelling trousers. I wear them a lot, because they’re light and don’t crease. 

What brands do you identify with?

I like YELLOW&STONE4 a lot. I started working at their store to make some money when I was a student and I really liked the clothes, but couldn’t afford them. The owner would give me some of the brand’s pieces and I ended up appearing in some of their photos, and she became a really good friend of mine.

I also like what Cortana and Marlota do5. And J. Llambias!

Do you feel like you need more clothes?

I already have lots of clothes and my family keeps on giving me more stuff. Every time I got to my grandma’s, I leave with 3 suits.

I also try to take care of clothing — there are some pieces I have since I was 14 years old more or less. I don’t really want to buy more clothes but, I also don’t want to give anything away because I then regret it and want to wear those pieces again. 

I don’t really want to buy more clothes but, I also don’t want to give anything away because I then regret it and want to wear those pieces again. 

Is there any particular piece in your closet that triggers bad memories?

A Max Mara jacket Sol wore to her grandmother’s funeral and hasn’t worn since

This jacket I wore to my grandma’s funeral. It makes me feel a little bit sad and I haven’t worn it since then, although I really like it and should start wearing it soon.

Do you usually plan what you are going to wear the night before?

Yes. I normally pick a pair of trousers and a shirt, and take it from there. I’m too sleepy in the morning and can’t think properly. 

Do you have clothes you normally pair with the same things?

Not really. Most of the time, I end up wearing something I have fun with and then I try to remember what I wore it with, but I can’t.

If you wake up feeling down, is there something you wear to feel better?

I guess I go for a relaxed fit jumper and trousers in black, because I feel comfortable with these pieces.

And a piece of clothing you usually receive compliments when you’re wearing it?

A red jumper I normally wear when I attend a party or a similar event. People usually like it.

Looking good! Sol wearing the red jumper she gets more compliments with.

If you had to choose only 5 pieces of clothing to live with, what would they be?

A pair of jeans, a white shirt, a pair of ankle boots, sneakers and a swimsuit.

1. ’Ropa de jugar’ in Spanish translates as children’s playwear.
2. Sol has one older and two younger sisters.
3. Founded in Barcelona in 2014, all of Gabriel for Sach’s accessories and bags are manufactured by artisans in this city.
4. A label by Ana Díaz Antolín, YELLOW&STONE is known for its limited pieces, made in Madrid.
5. Cortana and Marlota are two labels leading the conscious fashion movement in Spain.

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