Shopping along Barcelona's grand Passeig de Gràcia means being right in the heart of the centre of town, where you'll be taking in a breathtaking modernist building one minute and the next dodging others out for a walk, in a hurry to get somewhere, or doing their own spending. From the biggest brand names to the most affordable, from the exclusive shops to those open to everyone, you're bound to find a treasure to carry home that suits your taste and fits your budget.
Stella McCartney’s first store in Spain occupies a fiercely modern space within an elegant Modernista building. Her sharp tailoring meets flashes of neon in her 1980s revivalist style, and is complemented by lingerie, childrenswear and accessories. Do not expect leather shoes or bags, however – Stella is a product of her parents.
Valentino is no newcomer to Passeig de Gràcia, but with the finishing touches put on the shop (with a room covered in wood just for handbags) and window dressings that show off the couture dresses close-up, it's become a must-see classic. Stop in to admire the floral mini-dress with white collar and cuffs (from €3,000) or the patent leather and velvet stilettos.
First came Miu Miu, and now mama Prada's in town. The flagship store of the Italian firm is a temple of accessories: perfect leather handbags, sunglasses with romantic frames, and of course, the shoes, starring the beloved platforms. There are also the collections that Miuccia Prada surprises us with season after season, such as the winter 2014 unevenly cut skirts (in leather they'll run about €2,000) and coats with wide sleeves.
Everyone stops to have a look in the window at the famous handbags with the tell-tale Louis Vuitton damier and monogram. But inside you won't find the usual high-street crowds, and on the first floor you can admire the final collections designed by Marc Jacobs (until October 2014), featuring the red leather jacket in all shades (€3,000), the bowties, and the jewel-encrusted heels.
Barcelona’s oldest design house and a pioneer in the local catwalk scene, Santa Eulalia was founded in 1843 and remains a seriously upmarket proposition. The prêt-à-porter selection at the shop is fresh and up-to-the-minute, and includes labels such as Balenciaga, Jimmy Choo, Stella McCartney and Ann Demeulemeester. Services include bespoke tailoring and wedding wear for grooms.Other locations: C/Pau Casals 8, Eixample (93 201 70 51).
The more affordable
Pieces for every day for the urban and elegant woman, with sharp and clean silhouettes inspired by Italian tailoring. This is the philosophy of MAX&Co, the most affordable brands of the house of Max Mara. If the cocktail trousers are out of your comfort zone, you can always try the shoes or the mini bags, or you can simply enjoy the furniture that decorate this shop with a 1950s feel.
On a well-lit corner – in front of La Pedrera and a veteran shop on the Passeig, Carolina Herrera – the three-storey shop that is Hoss Intropia shows off its sophisticated and feminine wares. Dresses with a touch of the 1920s (€350) or folk-inspired jackets (from €200) are some of the stars of the 2014 season.
TCN has gone from dressing you up only for bathtime and your most private moments to include looks that opt for a relaxed and casual style, which the Catalan company has presented on the catwalks of Madrid and Barcelona. The 2014 season is all about chunky knit jackets and tops with velvet and lace (from €98).
The high street on a budget
Puma isn't the only sports shop on Passeig de Gràcia (you'll also find Nike and Adidas), but it does have a more coveted spot next to the mini shopping centre Bulevard Rosa and the future location of Hackett. You've got to stop in if you're a fan of limited-edition trainers; and while you're there, you might as well check out the brand's 'lifestyle'-orientated clothing line.
A neighbour of the posh Mandarin Hotel, Mango's flagship store shows off all the brand's lines (womenswear, He by Mango, Kids, Sport & Intimates and Mango Touch). Step inside and you'll find out why this isn't your everyday clothes shop: the well-kept and spacious interior gives the clothes and accessories room to breathe and stand out.
While we wait for Zara Home to open at number 30 on the very same Passeig de Gràcia, we'll just have to delight in Zara fashion: coats with soft tartan prints (€119), tops and faux leather skirts, and trousers with a masculine cut. For those who like to wear the latest trends but prefer to make smaller investments.
On Passeig de Gràcia, COS has devotees to its name-brand clothing lines, and H&M also has its loyal clientele. Somewhere in between in both style and price is & Other Stories, the latest from the Swedish house to land in Barcelona, and already with an impressive band of followers. The stars of the show are the shoes, accessories and the line of cosmetics and beauty products. But don't pass by the clothes, which are influenced by French and Nordic designs.