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.




And Away We Go

Well, that was hard.  And it’s likely just one of many hard things that I’ll be doing in the next few months.  This man here just set me up like a queen though.  Here, he’s rearranging the dishes in a more sensible way.  Now, he’s far away.  That’s all I’ll say about that.

That's not where you put plates.
“That’s not where you put plates.”

I won’t give you the whole story now but here’s the quick and dirty version: I was in Paris for the month of January as a co-director of a study abroad trip.  That’s done.  Now, I’m in Madrid, Spain for four months because I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.  I’m a very lucky gal.  I’m sorting things out still.  Namely, how to reframe my beloved blog.  Is this about teaching? Fashion? Spain? Does it matter?

Well, I’m no Rick Steves.  I won’t tell you where to get a churro or why a plaza is named what it is.  I will tell you about fashion and Spain and the sensory things though.  It’s my duty now.  I’m here to research and lecture on fashion and communication these days. One way I like to examine communication is through the five senses so that’s what I’ll do here.

Spain smells good.  Like laundry detergent from long ago when it was okay that it was scented. And that smell is mixed with a neutral, cologne-y smell that I’m guessing CK One was inspired by. There’s fair amount of unapologetic smoking but I get just a whiff here and there and it reminds me of my rebellious days.

Just your average store brand washing detergent mixed with….
2016-02-08 16.44.05
Alvarez Gomez “Agua de Colonia Concentrada” Eau de Cologne

I have “crappy” (you’ll get it in a second) internet but the landlady and I are working on it.  Until then, the bathroom has the best connection so I get a whole new olfactory experience from the old plumbing when I’m checking emails.

Not so great smells.
Not so great smells.

No surprise here but Madrid is yellow to me. All shades of yellow.  From the canary yellow on the flag to a buttery yellow to gold leafed wrought iron.  It’s everywhere.  The buildings are short by American standards but seem to stand up straighter, pose proudly.  They’re all punctuated with a sculpture or spire on top and seem to say, “I am here!” In Paris, they wind around and are creamy and white to me and say “I don’t need you.” In Rome, they have nooks and crannies and are extremes of gray and white and seem to say “Screw you”.

See. Told you.
See. Told you. (Photo collage by me.)

This is stretch in terms of touch, but this is a clever foot thing to open the door to my building.

Sin manos!
Sin manos!

This is the best tasting bubbly water I’ve ever had.  It’s like the bottle is tainted with briny vermouth.

I chug this stuff.
I chug this stuff.

They do have ice.  It’s perfect and it’s shaped like jumbo marshmallows. It comes like this:

Eggs for scale.
Eggs for scale. Isn’t the bedspread cute?

Ham. Ham is plentiful. Yes. Tapas. We all know tapas. Will discuss later.

The old radiators in my apartment are workhorses and have been painted 42,000 times.  I takes a special house call with a special wrench to turn the knob.  (“Either on or off, Señora!!”)  So, I’m a little warm. I’ll figure it out after I figure out everything else.

No clanging though.
No clanging though.

So, sounds.  I love the word “bricolaje.” It sounds just like what it is: a store with household stuff in it. 

It has yellow too.
It has yellow too.

I haven’t witnessed the oft-spoken of lively 10 o’clock dinners yet.  It’s pretty damn quiet here.  I only hear a distant phone ringing or murmuring of Spanish TV or plates being stacked.  The buzzer to my apartment gives me a heart attack though. It sounds like a big, mean bumblebee coughing. 

I'll imitate it for you when I see you again.
I’ll imitate it for you when I see you again.

That’s it for the standard senses.  I’ll have to be here a while longer to get an idea of non-traditional senses and ESP.  There’s a lot to experience and share.  Aside from the gentleman in the first picture, there are many people to thank for their support and encouragement.  I didn’t get here alone and I truly appreciate the advice, positivity, and for shoveling the sidewalk.  I hope to see you soon.  Until then, abrazos!!! xoxoxoxo






“This site/blog (enter site’s title and address) is not an official Fulbright Program site. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of its author (or insert name here) and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.”

I <3 Mori Girls

One guilty reason why I love my students is because I often mine them for cool things.  They usually don’t realize that they’re the ones who are in the thick of it.  They tell me about some of the weirdest stuff.  Stuff they just happen to like naturally and daydream about.  Stuff that isn’t mentioned by editors, WWD, or other mouthpieces of fashion. (Would this fall under “Stuff I’m Too Old to Notice”?)

So a student I had (and if she’s reading this, thank you so much for turning me on to this) told me about Mori Girls.  Did you know about this?!?!?  (As a side note, I am always pleasantly surprised and relieved when a fellow designer admits to being the last to know about something.  A friend recently asked, “Am I the last person to know about ASOS?  Me: Um, no.)  I am hardly an expert on all the different Japanese street styles but the Mori girls, or “forest” girls, are the nature-loving-feminine-soft-flowy-dress-wearing-bang-sporting-natural-fiber-adoring subculture.

Clothing you can EAT in.
Clothing you can EAT in.

There’s a bevy of Japanese books that appeal to this aesthetic, like The Feminine Wardrobe and Linen, Wool, Cotton.  They have patterns and sewing directions for garments, slippers, bags and scarves.  Whomever designed the garments in this next one is very smart.  They created a slew of dresses, blouses and tunics from just a basic babydoll shape.  I think every last one is adorable.  I made the one on cover.  All my girlfriends were like, “That is the perfect dress” but my brother-in-law calls it “The Box.” Sigh.

I will most certainly "wear with freedom."
I will most certainly “wear with freedom.”

These Mori Girls are just few of the things that have been rolling around in my head.  You already know about my folkwear obsession but my inspiration also includes housedresses (yes, the kind grannies wear):

I'm wearing one as we speak.
I’m wearing one as we speak.
Who knew DVF could launch a brand from this?
DVF wasn’t the first to design a wrap dress.

Snow White (the Grimm version, not Disney):

"Schneewittchen" in the Fountain of Fairytales in Berlin.
“Schneewittchen” in the Fountain of Fairytales in Berlin.

and Little House on the Prairie (the books, not the show):

Garth Williams' illustrations
“After we clean, we can play with our corn cob dolls!”

With all of this as inspiration, I designed a mini-collection.  And here are some sketches:

…smocks, pinafores, wraps…
…aprons, shifts, tunics…
…pockets, layers, tabards…

I won’t say much about them.  I’m just going to quietly document the process and hopefully you’ll learn something from it.

Raining Cats and Dogs

It’s been raining like crazy and I’m in a bad mood.

No caption needed.
No caption needed.

I’ve been putting off everything: patternmaking, designing, class prepping, blogging.  I’m reminded by a quote (and you’ll have to forgive me for quoting someone so overused) by Picasso, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”  I hate him for saying that.  Why can’t it find me drinking a martini and hanging out with my friends?  Why can’t it show it up when I’m dangling a feather in front of my cat?  Why can’t it come when I’m daydreaming?

I can be the worst at relying on feeling inspired in order get work done.  Luckily, I’m inspired by basically everything so this doesn’t happen a lot. But since the summer has started, and the structure of a semester isn’t driving me, I feel like I’m suspended in Jell-O, weightless, still, and a little paralyzed.

I've also been in to aspics lately.
Aspics are just another distraction.

I had the teeniest amount of super low pressure designing to do and by the time I convinced myself to do it, I had built it up into this huge thing.  I did things, unspeakable things, that I HATE doing, like folding all the linens in the house and cleaning, before I sat down to design.  That’s how bad it was.  WHAT’S MY PROBLEM??!!

I’ll tell you.  And then I’ll tell you what I did to fix it.

My first problem was that I wasn’t using any of my tricks, or techniques.  My second problem was that I didn’t realize that I have everything at this very moment to be creative.  I don’t need a super clean studio, linens folded, or even inspiration to create.  I don’t need to be “ready.”  I need a piece of paper and a pen. Like the Hopi saying goes, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

The first solution was from someone very smart and who’s in the very same room as me.  He told me to please shut up and just work for 10 minutes.  No more, no less.  And that’s what I did.  And after ten simple minutes, I had some work.

I tell my students, “No secret drawings!” when they don’t present all their designs.  (If you needed another random reference, I got the idea from Jack Black in “The School of Rock” where a kid is hiding his little song from the rest of the band.) So my second solution was that I put the agony out there and shared it with others. It’s rarely as bad as you think and good fellow designers will often be able to lighten the mood, finish it up, and add the single detail to make a collection cohesive.

So let me finish this on a personal note.  I’m often brought back to designing by my students, who remind me of my own lessons and keep me in shape.  Here are some mood boards they created in various ways: Pinterest, Photoshopping, google image searches, Polyvore, BehanceCreative Commons and good old fashioned magazine collaging.  I hope they perk you up on these gray days.

Pom-poms and fuchsia
Sunsets on the Sahara
Cozy knits in the fog and dewy skin
Delicate dreaming, botanical specimens, Victorian lace
Boardwalk lights and ladies who lunch
Patisserie, pastels, powder, and pillows
RIng of Fire
Ring of Fire, Nashville glamour