Binge-watch your way to the fashionable 1950s with Velvet

For a retrospective (fictive) peek at the 1960s, we had Mad Men. For the 1950s (and a small part of the 1960s), we have Velvet, also knowns as Galerías Velvet. As you may have read, when I finished the Spanish serie Gran Hotel, I was happy that there was yet another Spanish retro serie waiting for me: Velvet. A serie that is set in the late 1950s in Spain, with a serious ode to high class fashion of those days. Last week, I came back from my holiday and I couldn’t wait to watch the last two seasons. Season 3 and 4 were added to Netflix (Netherlands) on the 1st of August and I finished the final episode on the 5th of August. Yes, that’s how addictive this serie is. I’ve set my own personal binge-watch record, although now I regret that I didn’t spread my binge-watch pleasure over a few more days. Currently, I am still having a What-do-I-do-with-my-Netflix-life-after-Velvet dip.

So, why is this serie so intriguing and addictive?

About the story and its main characters

First things first. Like I’ve mentioned in my review about Gran Hotel: The spoken language is Spanish. If Spanish is not your first (or second) language, it may take you two episodes to get used to the spoken Spanish language, but at a certain point it will become just as normal as the English language, confide in me.

The serie is set in Madrid, Spain at the end of the 1950s. Velvet is one of the most prestigious clothing stores of Spain. After the death of its owner, his son has the difficult job to pick up the pieces, run the Velvet store and stay ahead of the competition. There are lot of enemies and they are closer than he thinks. Next to that, he has his personal life to think about, especially since he has never fallen out of love with the girl he grew up with. Their complicated love story is the red (story) line in Velvet, but there is much more. Be prepared for a lot of family feuds, manipulation, lying, double agendas, revenge, bribing and cheating.

Next to that, there is a lot of room for the professional and personal lifes of other employees that work at Velvet, because everyone has their good times but every now and then they all have their own battles to fight. Either way, Velvet carries you away to the life and fashion world of Spain in the 1950s with a lot of unexpected plot twists. In fact, every episode of this serie is literally like a mental get-a-way to the Spanish 1950s.

Trailer season 1

Characters

The Director of Velvet
He is left with a huge responsibility. Run Velvet succesfully. He has to deal with family members with double agendas. More importantly he has to make a lot of sacrifices, which on its turn lead to several difficulties in his personal life. Oh and he is still in love with the seamstress he grew up with. Their love (story) gives the phrase “it’s complicated” a new dimension.

The seamstress with ambition
She has grown up in the Velvet store with her uncle and is currently working there as a seamstress. Although soon it becomes clear that there is more to her capabilities than “just” seaming. Next to that, her personal life keeps her busy, because she is in love with the Director and in that love story there are a lot of bumps in the road.

The Designer
A typical case of: you love this character or you don’t. I instantly loved this character. He is outspoken, hilarious and very passionate about fashion. This character is connected to almost every other main character.

The Wife
She looks very nice and innocent, but at a certain point she becomes a vital dangerous obstacle who plays a lot of dirty games to keep (what she thinks) is hers. Jealousy could be her first name.

The Best Friend of The Wife
She is very spoiled and the type that believes that revenge is a dish best served cold. She likes to mess up relationships and flames a fire that makes The Wife more jealous and filled with hatred.

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The Brother of The Wife
He is partner of Velvet. Next to his management activities, he cheats and plots whenever he feels like it. He is also the jealous type (probably runs in the family), but at a certain point things really get out of hand.

The Sister of The Director
Remember Joan from Mad Men? Well, this sister is the Spanish version of Joan. Although she is underestimated by her own family in the beginning, she proves that she is also a true business woman who can’t be missed at Velvet.

The Assistant Director a.k.a. Womanizer
He is the ever-charming right hand of The Director. He doesn’t always agree with all the decisions of The Director, but as a true friend he always has his back. He is a true womanizer, but beyond his own expectations, even this womanizer falls in love. That love can best be descibed as: they can’t live with each other but they also can’t live without each other,

The Secretary
She is great in her secretary duties and fashion style, but also great at gossiping. And she can’t help falling in love with the Womanizer. She is also the sister of the Quirky Seamstress and a friend of the Seamstress with Ambition.

The Quirky Seamstress
She is one of the best seamstresses of Velvet and also the best friend of the Seamstress with Ambition. Sometimes charmingly naive, but always around to support her friends. Next to the good times, she also has to get through some bad times.

Jack-of-all-trades & Errand Boy
He will always makes you day because of his quirky, clumpsy way of dealing with things. Just like the Quirky Seamstress, he will always put a smile on your face and stay true to his friends.

The Uncle
He is he uncle of the Seamstress with Ambition. Strict, but righteous. He is great at coordinating all the duties around Velvet, but also not afraid to go against his superiors when needed.

Boss of the Seamstresses 
She seems like an ice queen at first, but at a certain point the ice melts and a heart of gold awaits. She is like a rock in the sewing department, for professional reasons, but at a certain point also personally.

There are obviously more interesting characters. In fact, there are a lot of supporting roles with outstanding performances who make a difference. But it’s much more fun to see them “in action”.

Trailer season 2

So why is this serie so intriguing and addictive?

The fashion

Fashion is what makes Velvet’s world go round. And it shows. When you see the fictive Velvet store you would want to wander around between the haute couture Spanish 1950s fashion pieces. In fact, why isn’t there a true store like Velvet out there? Truly a gap in today’s fashion store market, I am telling you! What I also liked is that every character has its own suitable distinctive fashion style and the directing crew really thought about the details which is also shown when main characters appear in a “new” outfit. From no wrinkle to be found on the three-piece suits of the gentlemen, to gloves and typical vintage style lingerie underneath the clothes of women. It’s all in the details.

The music

There is al lot of background music which totally emphasizes the mood or a specific scene. Also the music is nicely adjusted to the character(s). More than once, I paused the serie to use Shazam for certain songs. The music is a mix of oldies of the fifties and “new” songs. In fact, I liked the music in this serie so much that I’ve bought a cd with the most popular songs of the serie. I couldn’t find it on Spotify and well…a youtube playlist is not everyting. The names of the songs are displayed on the aftiteling of every episode, but pausing during the credits is not really an option since there are a lot of songs and you will have the urge to binge-watch.

The click between characters

This has a lot to do with the acting skills. The Spanish actors and actresses in this serie (and few Italian ones) really make this story and their own character come to life. If you have watched Gran Hotel, you’ll recognize a few actors and actresses. When you see the seamstresses together, you think what a great friendship” and when you see certain couples, you think: “they fit so well together”. Then of course, there is always someone up no good and you’re like: “Oh no, not you again”. The casting crew did a great job when they selected the actors and actresses for the different roles.

Also read:  Vintage fashion: the 1940s - from practical to redefined post-war femininity

Trailer season 3

A pleasant variation of drama, humor and romance

Oohhh the drama. The drama in this serie is not your typical soap drama. In fact, it completely sucks you in the old school Spanish 1950s world. It’s the kind of drama that makes you binge-watch the day (or night) away and makes you think: Wait, what, WHAT…I need to see the next episode. Or: I need another mental get-a-way. And another one. And another one…The nice thing about the serie is that there is a constant variation of drama, humor and romance. Which also means that a lot is happening in a single episode of one hour and 10 minutes.

The setting

The setting of this serie will obviously interest retro fans, but there is reason why the series final episodes had millions of viewers in december 2016 when it was broadcasted on the Spanish channel Antena 3. The serie gives you a nostalgic feeling and a fictive peek into the world more than 60 years ago.  In the huge fictive fashion store, women wander around in high class 1950 fashion, from top to toe. The men in management positions look smashing in their perfectly ironed three-piece suits. They also have their own office livingroom which includes a nice sofa and there is always some whisky around when tough decisions have to be made. Of course they also own expensive sports cars.

Under the store, the real action takes place. It’s the place where the seamstresses and other employees work, live and dream. Next to that, the seaming and passion for seaming is brought in such a way, that it almost makes me want to go to seaming class. Almost…

Netflix life after Velvet

Well is there any ;-)?  After Gran Hotel, I didn’t expect another retro serie that I would find that good. Well, once again: expect the unexpected. I love the fact that this is a serie with episodes of approximately 1 hour and ten minutes. I dislike the fact that there are only 4 seasons. Velvet season 5 is a popular search prhase on google, but the answer is: No. Season four was the final season. Smart move of the producers of course, because you always have to stop at the highest point. Still, I do think this serie would have been just as popular if it had a few more seasons.

However, there will come a spin-off of Velvet: Velvet Collección, which will include soms of the characters (and actors and actresses) of the original Velvet serie. The first episode of the serie will be broadcasted on the 22nd of September via (paid) Spanish channel Movistar Plus. Hopefully at a certain moment, it will also be available on Netflix! Here is the trailer of Velvet Collección:

If you haven’t watched the original Velvet serie: I wish you a lot of binge-watch pleasure. If you have already watched it, you’ll probably get, why I love it so much! I’ve added some trailers in this blog, because screenshots don’t really capture the setting. Unfortunately, the trailers on Youtube are without English subtitles, but you’ll get an idea. Of course, if you watch the serie on Netflix, it has subtitles of your choice. Also keep in mind that the real good & juicy stuff isn’t captured in the trailers at all. Enjoy!

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