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“Life as we knew it was unrecognizable,” — My #NewNormal in a City on Lockdown

Katherine Boudria

Katherine Boudria, creative director, founder Maison Boudria.

Up until a few days ago, Katherine Boudria was a woman on the move. She is the creative director and founder of Maison Boudria, a woman’s ready-to-wear line featuring pieces handmade across Spain, France, and Morocco. Preserving artisanal embroidery is central to its design ethos of timeless separates and overlays.

She is also ambassador of The Ducatus Foundation, the charitable arm of BCN Telecom, the global technology services provider founded by her late father, Richard M. Boudria. It provides after-school educational and sports-driven activities to children living in under-served conditions. Most recently, it established a partnership with the Real Madrid Foundation. An active philanthropist for over fifteen years, she also devotes her time to the American Hospital of Paris Foundation as well as to reviving the famous April in Paris charity ball, a gala event serving Franco-American relations.

Currently, Boudria is living in Madrid due to her filmmaker husband Philip Selkirk’s work. When news of the lockdown came into effect, the couple explored their chances to fly back to New York, which were quickly deemed “very complicated and dangerous.” From her adopted home in Madrid, she shares her first-person account of her #newnormal in a city under lockdown in the letter below.

Katherine Boudria

Maison Boudria collection. Photo Danielle Amy

Katherine Boudria
March 19, 2020

SKETCHES OF SPAIN. Evoking the sensuous notes of Miles Davis, one presumably conjures up thoughts of a golden sunlit afternoon, the soft waltz of bougainvilleas cascading over Andalusian architecture or the dry dust swirling around “El Molino” in La Mancha, the melodious sound of the villages as they awaken from siesta to christen the cena with song, dance, and of course, copas.

Katherine Boudria

Katherine Boudria, pre-lockdown, exploring Granada. Photo Philip Selkirk.

Today, the Spain we are finding ourselves in these last few days is unrecognizable. All over Europe in fact, however, especially here as the Spaniards are by nature a most convivial people. Upon meeting one for the first time, two kisses are de rigor, as well as strong hug or two. Collecting together for comida and copas is practically a sport.

It all began last Friday. As the atmosphere slowly shifted, we felt a draw to our favorite restaurant, famous for fish and for reservations only. As we are regulars, we assumed we might wait a bit, but Victor would find us a little table for two. We walked into the sounds of silence on a plate with a side of nervous laughter when we asked if they had a table for us. “Por supuesto, of course.” As ever, the food never disappoints, the artichokes and almejas (clams) mouthwatering. So delicious was our little bubble shielding us from the malaise which was brewing outside, we asked to reserve for next week!

Katherine Boudria

Katherine Boudria speaking at the French consulate general in New York. Photo Philip Garber

Only with a heavy heart, we were informed that as of midnight, Madrid city is to pass an order of decree that all cafés, bars, restaurants, boutiques – todos shall be closed for the next two weeks, if not longer. The regal gates to the Retiro Park, where I look forward to a daily stroll – as an expat, the equivalent to my walks in Central Park- are now under lock and key.

One is allowed to leave for only the essentials. As a strong believer in supporting my local community, my husband is a star as he accompanies me to the Mercado de la Paz, in our Barrio of Salamanca. Besides the wonderful members of the Hospitals and Policía, I also believe these merchants are the real heroes. Again, as we are in Spain and food is of the utmost importance, we are surviving this quarantine as we continue to dine well. At home. I have taken to preparing a menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner and plan accordingly.

Katherine Boudria

Katherine Boudria, center, with friends at the April in Paris soirée. Photo Philip Garber.

I adore cooking, having attended Escoffier when I lived in Paris. And now, my cooking skills are being influenced by the glorious Spanish produce, fish, cheese and meats. This, more then ever, has become my little pleasure. This lends me a sense of community, as I visit my local shopkeepers and we greet. The atmosphere is not as light as before when spouses, friends and family would congregate for a copa, while others scurry about all in the backdrop of food splendor. However, as we stand there, with our latex gloves, and with a slightly anxious smile, it helps to know we are not alone.

As I write this, I glance out my window to admire the Telefónica building, the Spanish flag flying high, keeping the morale strong. The blossoms have emerged announcing Spring, birds are playfully chirping under the sun – that perfect magic hour hue. I wistfully await the moment when this quarantine ends, and we are able to promenade the calle to our favorite restaurants once again.

What a difference a week makes.  If only Miles had a tune for this.”

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