OPEN your wardrobe and pull out your glad rags, because Madrid Fashion Week is here!
There’s actually more than a week of couture to be had – with Madrid es Moda (part of Madrid City Council’s Madrid Fashion Capital programme), which started last Friday, and the Mercedez-Benz Madrid Fashion Week that runs until the weekend, it’s a full 10-day fashion extravaganza.
Madrid es Moda kicked the week off by touring an open-top bus around the centre of town and unleashing models in the street. But most of the events are more exclusive. Madrid es Moda is taking place in the Serrería Belga arts centre and other select venues, and the Mercedez-Benz Madrid Fashion Week is at the IFEMA exhibition centre.
Catwalk presentations are strictly invitation only, and if you are lucky enough to get yourself on the list, you can expect to rub shoulders with the local glitterati.
Having hustled my way into a few of the Madrid es Moda events, I was ready for my first live fashion experiences.
The first thing you notice is how achingly trendy everyone is. Fashion shows are short affairs, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t dress up for the occasion. Colourful trainers are de rigeur for men, and for women, striking heels, stylish coats and statement handbags. Waiting for the event to start, I couldn’t help but think that if they were only to swing their hips and strike a pose, the audience could make quite the show themselves.
In these intimate settings, everyone seems to know each other, and there are air kisses a-plenty. The VIPs arrive at the last minute, making an entrance. And in case anyone might doubt their status, they can usually be identified by something striking like a blue cocktail in hand.
Before you see anything, you’ll hear the music – no fashion event is complete without a booming soundtrack to get you in the mood to be wowed. When the models make their appearance, you hear the whirr of professional cameras snapping and see the rest of the audience holding their smartphones aloft, as if performing acts of worship to some deity of style.
But there’s a more serious side to all this. Fashion is a big industry for Spain, which is home to fashion giant Inditex (creator of brands such as Zara and Massimo Dutti) among others. Many of the Spanish brands being showcased this week are proponents of the concept of “slow fashion” – an antidote to the throwaway fast fashion that so often ends up as landfill.
“Slow fashion” focuses on local produce and sustainability. Under the tinsel drapes of its party-vibe presentation, Ernesto Naranjo’s collection, for example, is produced in Andalucia by local artisans.
Fashion also has its conceptual side, with firm artistic rooting. Marco Luengo’s new collection is directly inspired by the paintings of contemporary Spanish painter Rubén Martín de Lucas, in turn inspired by Japanese gardens. During a talk about his Marinas collection, Oteyza co-founder Paul García de Oteyza described how the materials and style took their inspiration from Spain’s long maritime history, using merino wool from Salamanca.
Discussing the need to build a recognisable brand, he emphasised the need for fashion designers to discover a line, just as artists such as Spain’s abstract artists Palazuelo or Chillida each created their own unique visual language. The distinct black Oteyza lines on his white top silently reinforced his point.
But just in case aspiring designers get lost in lofty conceptual creativity, Oteyza reminds us of the absolute bottom line in this industry: “You have to sell.”
Some lucky passers-by have been able to catch a glimpse of models posing on the streets of Madrid this week. But if you’re keen to see more of this festival of fashion, you can check out the catwalks videos from IFEMA online at https://www.ifema.es/mbfw-madrid/fashion-shows
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