Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid on the Rise
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid might be a bi-annual event with over thirty years under its belt, but over the past two years this stalwart fashion week has been given a radical makeover, and the rest of the world is starting to take notice. Since the arrival of Charo Izquierdo as the director of the fashion week in April of last year the transformation of MBFW Madrid has kicked into overdrive.
“One of the most important goals for us is to make our fashion week more international, “ stated Izquierdo. “This is why we changed the dates of our shows, so we don’t coincide with any other fashion week, we are also inviting more and more international press and buyers. And when they come and discover Spanish fashion, I promise you, they are astonished by the creatively, quality and the variety of our local designers.”
Eugenia de la Torriente, the editor in chief of Vogue Spain, agreed with Izquierdo’s choice to move the dates of the fashion week. “It has changed things enormously. Of course we are still adjusting to the new dates and what they mean. But I think overall it is a positive change, because it really allows us stand out internationally, and not compete with other major fashion weeks,” she confirmed. De la Torriente also added that she likes that “we are now starting to include more of the city of Madrid into the shows. It’s a great way to incorporate our beautiful culture and heritage into the fashion week.”
Shifting the show dates has turned out to be a very smart move and it is already starting to starting to bear fruit. Buyers from Joyce in Hong Kong, Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Rubaiyat in Saudi Arabia, Farfetch and Luisaviaroma as well as journalists from Vogue Runway, Marie Claire and Grazia flocked to Madrid this season to cover the event. The traditional Feria exposition halls also got an update this season. The venue was streamlined to create better flow and more attractive stands for the hundreds of guests who come each day to take in a show or discover new talents in the showrooms. While the two side by side runway spaces have been reworked to accommodate larger scale set designs and bigger audiences.
“What sets Madrid apart from the other fashion capitals is the unique aesthetic, ultra-feminine clothing and designers who are either couture level, like Juan Vidal, Teresa Helbig, or pushing the boundaries like London College of Fashion graduate, Palomo Spain, said Svetlana Knezevic, contributing writer to Italian Vogue, who has attended eight fashion weeks in Madird and has seen first-hand the evolution. “I keep returning to Madrid season after season just to soak up my senses with this fashion scene that has produced some iconic names such as Balenciaga and more recently, Delpozo.”
“You know what I am loving mostly is the fabrics I am seeing” exclaimed Derek Warburton who is a luxury consultant and owner of La Palme magazine. Warburton flew in from Los Angeles to film the entire fashion week for a television series. “Also there is a lot here that I could take back with me and use in Hollywood. The dresses are all so wearable and I could see a lot of the clothing on the red carpet and being worn by celebrities,” he added.
While MBFW Madrid is now clearly headed in the right direction there is still room to improve. The addition of masterclasses and talks given by leaders in the fashion industry to help education those interested in getting into different parts of the fashion industry would be a great bonus. More off-site shows to incorporate the Madrid culture should continue to be a focus. And beefing up the showroom space for buyers to have more face to face time with designers after their show would bolster even further the chances for international sales opportunities.
“It’s evolving,” pronounced veteran fashion journalist Hilary Alexander. “The designers I have most enjoyed have been showing outside the Feria. But I do like that there is a whole backstage area at the Feria where you can go see the clothing up close and speak directly with the designers. I would also suggest that there be more differentiation between traditional ready-to-wear brands that are showing and the more designer labels. And they need to work on the lighting so that it is more conducive to people sitting in the show, wanting to take photos for social media, and not just the video and camera people at the end of the catwalk.”
Sounds like Alexander, and the rest of the international visitors to MBFW Madrid see the potential this event has to compete with the “big four” fashion weeks. And it is clear that Izquierdo and her team have every intention of making that dream a reality.
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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