Madrid Es Moda

Madrid just had their fashion week. (#MBFWMadrid in case you didn’t know.)

Events beget events in fashion. Living off the momentum of MBFWM,  Madrid Es Moda is the city wide event that brings the fashion from the runway to the rest of us. Fashion pops up not just in window displays, but in museums, hotels, design and art exhibits, open studios, bookstores, parties, movie screenings, fashion contests, and other cross-collaborations.  There are even specially themed tapas you can order at over 25 restaurants. They are proven to help you fit sample size.

These fashion moments are not the main event.  They’re cursory or something to glance at while you’re eating your pulpo. I went to the lovely Hotel Gran Melia Fenix to get a closer look at the designs of Amaya Arzuaga, the mistress of undulating shapes; Jorge Acuña, jeweltones and silk charmeuse;  Moisés Nieto, the king of mesh; and my new favorite, Devota & Lomba, my fellow lovers of red, black, and white.  The concierge looked at me like I was a freak for explicitly coming to see these.

(Sigh.  I´m still adjusting.  It took me 15 minutes to figure out how to add an accent to the “e” and then do an upside-down exclamation point on this keyboard.)

There was also a free event at El Museo Cerralbo called  “La Mujer Ochoa: Modernisma y Modernidad.”  Ochoa was an artist and illustrator that has been said to simultaneously be a part of Art Deco, Surrealism, Pre-Raphaelites, Abstract art and Gesturalism. Not bad. These mujers are fantastic and so inspiring. You can almost hear the the scratchy record playing in the background as he painted them.

This seemed to be a more casually organized idea and I don´t think the ticket ladies actually knew what I was talking about (or they probably didn’t care).  They wrote something down and waved me in the right direction.

The always recognizable Desigual had a “Street Takeover!”:

I signed up to see a screening of “La Modista/The Dressmaker” (tagline: Revenge is Back in Fashion—mwwaahahahaha!) with Kate Winslet.  The directions were to send an email to a random address to get on the list.  We shall see what happens!

Here’s a beautiful and I think particularly seamless store display that I just happened to walk by and realize it was part of the happenings as well.  Store: Florin Antiques;  Dress: Ion Fiz:

Muy elegante.

There was something called “Designers´Rooms Fashion Bits” that was a presentation of…well, honestly, it took me awhile to figure it out. Something about online showrooms and 100% Made in Spain!…There were so many ideas and events and collaborations and then throw a little language barrier in there and I was lost sometimes.  I think universally, fashion suffers from “event fatigue.” These opportunities are seductive but they can become a thorn in the side of any designer and make them do a quick cost-benefit analysis. Some cool stuff though:

Last thing. Davidelfin and IKB 191 Collab:

Some bleak drama courtesy of
“Inferno” meets Mid-century Modern. Why not?

So here’s the deal so far:  I average 5 miles a day walking around the city looking, talking, and thinking.  Is there something inherently Spanish that I can discern?  Why am I always the only one here looking at this?  I hesitate to summarize yet but I’m certainly past the knee-jerk assumptions of Spanish designers being inspired by warm weather and bullfighting. (Nor did I ever go there!!)  I think it’s pretty damn cool to have Ochoa’s art in the zeitgeist.  And to see fashion incorporated so homogeneously everywhere. (Especially my two favorite things that aren’t often paired, food and fashion.) And to that point, that designers and businesses collaborate so willingly, and goodness gracious, SO MUCH. The breadth of the events is staggering.  I didn’t even go to 1/4 of them. Need to meet the folks who organized this.

Madrid is really doing their own thing and their fashion week is not a separate, isolated event. Fashion is relevant to everyone and a reflection of what’s going on. So I really get it when they called it “Madrid es Moda” because they truly made it their city full of fashion.





I can already hear the bass.
I can already hear the bass.

I know The Tents came out at least a year ago but I don’t care.  I thought it was a nice way to usher in NYFW.   I just saw it yesterday and, like every time I embark upon a new film, book, blog, or article relating to fashion it’s an emotional moment for me. I’m riveted and excited about learning something new and finding out about new fashion things, but panicked and ashamed that I didn’t already know about it.

All of a sudden I want to wear headsets and hold clipboards and help non-English speaking models order a Diet Pepsi.  Those slick plexiglass runways, sexy after-parties, impeccably executed fake eyelashes and impossibly high heels are a big leap from messy studios, lost patterns, late night mania, and what I like to call “sewing in my filth.”

Studio glamour.
Studio glamour.  Cat hair included.

Don’t you worry though.  I don’t think I could ever stop my obsessive need to make things.

So, fashion shows.  Specifically, the story of the Bryant Park fashion shows in NYC.  I’ve worked many fashion shows (see below) but I have to admit that I’ve never been to “the tents.”  I won’t ever have the chance, since they’re no longer holding the shows there, but I guess that’s why they made the documentary.  Fashion moves on.  As Hal Rubenstein said, “You’re not dealing with a very nostalgic crowd.”

A couple of things I learned while watching “The Tents”:

Before the venerated Fern Mallis organized it and got funding in 1993 (which she describes in such an off-handed, “no big deal” way), designers were holding the shows anywhere: in dilapidated buildings all over the city, with little or no organization and tons of chain smoking.  It was borderline unprofessional and kind of a joke.  Suzy Menkes had some ceiling fall on her head at a show and that was the plaster that broke the fashion reporter’s bouffant. But they got their act together.  Stan Herman: “This is big business and it started right here.”  Now, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Fashion Week generates an estimated $532 million in direct visitor spending annually, which translates to $865 million in total economic impact.

Aqua Net doesn't stop ancient plaster.
Aqua Net doesn’t stop ancient plaster.

NYFW has taken a cue from Haute Couture in the production of their shows.  Hal Rubenstein also said “You’re selling a dream, not a garment,” which I thought was pretty obvious, and definitely the sentiment of the Haute Couture shows.  However, incredulous family members STILL like to scream “WHO WOULD EVER WEAR THAT?” after seeing the outrageous garments and sometimes partially nude people parade down the runway.  Sigh. Please stop saying that.  You want to know who would wear that?  ME. I would.  I realize that we’re pretty practical and dedicated to sportswear in the U.S. so there has been some push back against this seduction.   We like our dreams attainable.

Gaultier's Cat Ladies Fall 2013
Gaultier’s Cat Ladies Fall 2013

Needs and expectations are changing too.  Looking beyond the immediacy that the internet has brought to fashion, there’s also an overwhelming demand for density and being able to extract and document every last thing from every moment.  We want to know the play-by-play of the show, the designer, the model, the venue.  Case in point: “Atmosphere Photos.”  Soon, there will be a twitter account for the hairbrushes that are used and what they go through.  Some say ENOUGH!  Peter Som and others reign in the madness by having Digital Fashion Shows, saving time and money and headaches. Some don’t have a show at all.  Models just stand solemnly against a pretty backdrop.

Don't cry.  They'll be a show next year.
Don’t cry. There will be a show next year. Rachel Roy 2014

Students: volunteer at fashion shows whenever you can. You’ll have some stressful, primal moments and memories but it should read something like this after a few of them:

  • Crawling around on the floor removing nail polish off of dirty model feet
  • 15 models, 4 dressers and you in an un-airconditioned 10 x 10 foot tent in July
  • Hand sewing busted zippers and pantyose (!!!) with no light in said tent
  • Overprotective/creepy/baffled boyfriends who linger and gawk
  • Lights and music going out mid show (we decided it was an impromptu intermission)
  • Taping the bottom of 30 pairs of shoes, removing said tape with goof-off, going home early from exposure to fumes
  • Being amazed at how goddamned fast those models can change

Finally, a I have few new favorites from this year!  I didn’t think the shows needed any more coverage than they have already so here goes: Tibi, Edun, Louise GoldinA Détacher, SunoChadwick Bell.  Such great crisp-white-and-black-boxy-goodness to greet us in a few months!