The Evolution of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid
In just under three years Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid has gone through some major growth spurts and has made some real inroads in gaining international awareness. Under the guiding hand of outgoing director Charo Izquierdo the fashion week made some early bold moves. The first of which was to change the dates of the fashion week so that it no longer conflicted with any of the top four fashion weeks of New York, London, Milan and Paris.
That strategic decision instantly made it feasible for more international press and buyer come to Madrid for the shows. The choice also dovetailed nicely with the buzz being generated by the Spanish brand Palomo Spain, which received global press thanks to one of designer Alejandro Gômez Palomo’s floral outfits being worn by Beyoncé for her first portrait with her newborn twins. He was showing in Madrid and his theatrical presentations were a big draw. This in turn helped other brands showing during the fashion week to gain some visibility.
Another early move that help build both awareness and business was the introduction of a showroom space at IFEMA. Inside the expansive fashion week’s main venue this area became the place for buyers to meet face to face with the designers after their runway presentation and get an up close look at their collections. “The designers have been able to really connect with buyers and being to build long lasting relationships with them. Thanks to the showroom we have seen real concrete business results as more Spanish brands are now distributed international than before,” said Alexandra Pisco. Pisco is a fashion consultant and founder of Pisco and Co who is also and member of Madrid’s Camera della Moda advisory board that has been advising the fashion week on making strategic changes to help promote Spanish fashion. During the fashion week Pisco runs the showroom with precision. Rotating in and out racks of designer clothing everyday to correspond with the shows taking place at the venue.
Other major improvements that have been made during Izquierdo’s tenure include a larger and more efficient press room, a new daily lecture area created in partnership with ELLE that had talks focused on different issues facing the fashion industry going on throughout the week, the incorporation of more of Madrid into the fashion week with shows taking place in picturesque locations, a better targeted international group of invited guests and even a uptick in the quality of food being served at the show venue.
Television personality and magazine publisher Derek Warburton has flown in from Los Angeles for the past three seasons to attend MBFW Madrid. Over the last year he has produced daily behind the scenes videos that have been airing in the United States to promote the fashion week in America. “I have enjoyed watching so many of the designers evolve into real brands with world wide appeal,” said Warburton. “Spain is rich with culture and craftsmanship which is what makes them special. Their challenge is that they are a small country who need to continue to push for that international appeal in order to grow brands. The talent is astounding. From Ana Locking and Palomo Spain who are crossing over to David Catalan who has just had success in Milan, the world stage is Spain’s best chance at success,” he added.
This season a fashion week right of passage happened with the arrival of Vogue Runway journalist Laird Borrelli-Persson, who attended MBFW Madrid for the first time. In the wrap up article she posted on the iconic American website, she highlighted a number of up and coming Spanish designers such as Ernesto Naranjo, Juan Vidal, Teresa Helbig, Maria ke Fisherman, Moises Nieto, Roberto Torretta, Angel Schlesser and Brain & Beast. “Like Palomo, many have returned from abroad with a renewed appreciation and passion for Spanish traditions. Their presence on the official schedule, or on its fringes, is starting to make the city’s fashion week feel like a place where discoveries can be made,” she said in her piece dedicated to the fashion week.
Now with so much momentum and overall good will towards MBFW Madrid Izquierdo feels even more bittersweet about her departure. “I feel very proud of the changes we have done so far. But, of course, I am frustrated about all the things that I still wanted to do but didn’t have time to get to before I left,” she said. Only the opportunity to become the general manager of the Zeta Group, the biggest magazine publishing house in Spain, could tempt Izquierdo into leaving MBFW Madrid. But she can depart with her head held high and the knowledge that she has left the fashion week in a much better place than she found it.
Jessica Michault is the Senior Vice President of industry relations at GPS Radar by Launchmetrics. She is also the editor-at-large for ODDA magazine and contributes to publications like the New York Times, the Business of Fashion, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Mixte magazine.
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