Sira Quiroga (Adriana Ugarte) tears her passport and scatters the tiny pieces in the air as she leaves her old self behind and assumes Arish Agoriuq, the mysterious couturier with a Moroccan passport. For those wondering, Arish Agoriuq is Sira Quiroga in reverse. The change in identity is vital for her to fulfill her espionage duties with success.
Arish arrives in Madrid in 1940 like an angel in an all-white outfit with matching turban. She meets with Alan Hillgarth (Ben Temple), her British handler. Alan tells her not to interact with people from her past but encourages her to spend time the powerful in order to learn their secrets. She is talked to write her messages or secrets she learns on the border of the sketches she makes – but in Morse code. Her sophisticated clothes, alluring beauty and quick wit make her a hit among the well-heeled personas right away. In no time Arish’s Madrid shop turns into the hubbub of the wives of daughters of high-ranking German officers in Madrid.
A tiny hiccup in Arish’s plans makes itself known in the form of ex-boyfriend Ignacio (Raúl Arévalo) who now works for Dirección General de Seguridad del Ministerio de Gobernación. It is a mouthful, but it means that Ignacio checks the veracity of the papers of all foreign nationals who want to stay in Madrid, Arish included. Ignacio might be a boring boyfriend, but he has gray matter between his ears; he immediately knows that Sira and Arish are the same person and either is up to no good. And while he is rather creepy in her early interactions with Arish, Ignacio helps Paquita (Pepa Rus) to get her son back and does no harm to Arish.
With Ignacio out of the picture, Arish uses her sewing skills (one client remarks of Arish, “tiene manos de angel” (she has hands of an angel)) as an excuse to learn key information about the husbands or fathers of her clients. She continues to meet with Alan face-to-face in a pastry shop with oh-so-mouth watering tiny cakes, in a doctor’s office, a library and in a museum. Her free time is devoted mainly to charm Portuguese businessman and German ally Manuel Da Silva (Filipe Duarte).
After 1.2 dinners and a few coy glances from Arish, there is no doubt that Manuel is charmed. The businessman invites Arish to Lisbon, the same place where Arish’s old self Sira’s bestfriend Rosalinda Fox (Hannah New) resides. With Alan’s blessing, Arish packs her suitcase and sashays her way to Portugal in the guise of buying Chinese silk from Manuel.
Lisbon and Estoril are other-wordly with architecture wonders and shops that sell beautifully-wrapped items. Arish spends her time away from Manuel sightseeing and shopping, hence the beautifully-wrapped items. Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman would have thrown a fit had she seen how well Arish shopped. Between her shopping trips, Arish finally sees Marcus Logan (Peter Vives) years after they parted in Tétouan and visits Rosalinda in secret.
Going back to Arish’s spy duties, she ultimately befriends Manuel’s secretary, Beatriz Oliveira (Nerea Barrios), over a couple of cigarettes and trips to the ladies’ room. Beatriz informs Arish of Manuel’s activities and plans with German officer Herr Weiss (cannot find his real name). In a dinner with German officers and their wives, Arish is the date of the still unsuspecting Manuel. She smiles a lot at the men in the other table and while she plays cards with the ladies she cranes her neck to watch and listen to the men as they discuss their war plans, lights her cigarettes and cranes her neck some more. For a bit there, I got worried Arish would get a stiff neck.
If not for an errant petal of the fresh orchid that she wears on her hair, Arish would have escaped Manuel and Portugal with the German’s microfilm that contains their plans for the war (also known as World War II) with her cover intact. But the orchid is just so fresh and inviting, and Arish just had to wear it.
After some fight scenes which are not stimulating, Arish arrives in Madrid with Marcus. Arish, with all her beauty and smarts, thinks that Manuel and the Germans will just roll over and die after discovering that the microfilm is missing. Her novice actions help Manuel to track her down easily (because she does not think that it is possible for someone to know where she lives although her place is popular among German ladies).
It is only expected that Manuel kidnaps Arish and demands from the British to exchange the microfilm for her because the British always takes care of their own. More boring non-fight scenes and a most boring fight scene between Marcus and Manuel in which, surprise, surprise, Arish stabs Manuel with a pair of scissors. Because every seamstress has it ready in her nicely-tailored jacket all of the time. It is happy time from here.
El Tiempo Entre Costuras (The Time Between Seams) is a great series that showcases scenic places in Tangier, Tétouan, Madrid, and Portugal. Also, the series is practically a fashion show of jaw-dropping clothes in the 30’s and 40’s, especially the clothes worn by Sira and Arish. The minute details that come into the production, from Sira’s hats, purses or shoes, to the way she holds and smokes her cigarette, to the way she pours tea to the bigger ones like the cars driven at that era and the historical events that are closely intertwined throughout the series are just mind-boggling, but the effort is much appreciated. El Tiempo Entre Costuras might be the most beautiful series I have watched.
It also helps that Adriana Ugarte is a goddess. If A Song Ice and Fire has Lyanna Stark as the queen of love and beauty, El Tiempo Entre Costuras has Sira and Arish. The supporting cast may not be as beautiful as Ugarte, but they fulfilled their roles to perfection. Props to Raúl Arévalo for making Ignacio a little dark and creepy in his return, his silent looks are enough to make me doubt his intentions for Sira. Carlos Santos’ Félix Aranda is a delight, his laughter is contagious and his screen presence is always welcome. But my favorite character is Ben Temple’s Alan Hillgarth. He is the brooding presence behind Arish’s light and breezy façade, yet he is a very good agent / handler and seems like a caring husband, too.
El Tiempo Entre Costuras is riveting because it appeals not only to the senses but also to the hearts and minds. It has flawless visuals, from the colorful Tétouan to the somber grays and blacks of Madrid, and apt musical accompaniment. Moreover, it also shows Spanish, and to some extent, European history and culture from mid-1930’s to early 1940’s. Yet the soul of the series starts and ends with Sira as her nimble hands produce wearable masterpieces that change the course of events in Europe and eventually save thousands of innocent lives.
To read the first part of the recap of El Tiempo Entre Costuras, please proceed here.
This is a recap and review of Spanish series El Tiempo Entre Costuras (The Time Between Seams).
It took me almost three months to finish this series. First, it is entirely in Spanish with no subtitle and my Spanish is getting worse by the day. Second, there were too many characters as Sira met new ones in every city she visited. Third, each episode is over an hour. That is too many Spanish words in one sitting. I let out a sigh of relief once I reached the end of the series finale. Whew!