Held annually in March, the Fallas de Valencia, or the Fiesta de San Jose, is among the most celebrated traditions in Valencia and one of the country’s biggest street festivals. The event is marked by fireworks, music, and parades. Valencianos prepare for the five-day event by constructing elaborate papier-mâché monuments and satirical figurines, known as fallas, that are burned to the ground on the last night of the festival.
These large hair combs, or peinetas, are essential fallera accessories. These combs are more than a hundred years old and the central comb is much larger than those made today. Below, another set of hair combs.
A brooch, or cholla, is worn by falleras on the front of their bodices to match their earrings, necklace, and bracelet. Many of these brooches are passed down through generations.
One of the most important customs of the Fallas de Valencia is the role of the fallera—a woman elected to represent a Falla figure from her Valencia barrio, or neighborhood. Being a fallera is a commitment; most women begin their careers as early as birth—often born into fallera families that span generations—while some take up the practice later in life.
Being a fallera requires a very particular look. Women wear elaborate hand-sewn dresses made of two parts: the skirt, or falda, and the bodice, or corpiño. While original fallera dresses were inspired by clothes worn by women laborers working the rice fields around Valencia, the style has changed over time, with new fabrics and patterns introduced each year. Made mainly of lace and silk, the dresses are paired with handmade shoes crafted to match the dress’s corpiño.
In addition to the dress, falleras set their hair in three pieces, or moños, resembling twisted buns—two over their ears like Princess Leia from Star Wars and a third in the back. Three golden combs, passed down through generations, adorn the buns. Falleras complete their look with a cholla, or brooch, worn on the bodice that matches their earrings, necklace, and bracelet—also family heirlooms.