MADRID — Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week is shifting its dates starting next year in a bid to attract more international attention.
In 2012, Cibeles will run two weeks earlier than usual — or Jan. 30 to Feb. 3 and Sept. 4 to 8. “Madrid will kick off the international show calendar next year,” confirmed director Leonor Pérez Pita, “so we will no longer be stepping on New York’s toes or coincide with London.”
With a budget of about $4 million, this fall’s Cibeles, held Sept. 16 to 20 in the Madrid fairgrounds, featured 44 designers, or 12 less than two years ago, and included 10 newcomers under the banner El Ego.
The shows didn’t draw much foreign attention except for 15 editors and bloggers from Asia, Eastern Europe, Portugal, Mexico, Brazil and the U.S., invited by the Ministry of Commerce’s Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade.
A pall hung over the shows due to Spain’s ongoing economic meltdown, which includes the Eurozone’s highest unemployment rate at 20.9 percent and a 7 percent slide in retail sales year-over-year.
“The economic crisis forces you to offer more than your customer expects, meaning tighter quality control and expanded product options,” said Roberto Verino, whose collection referenced a connection to nature and Ibiza in the Seventies with textured raffia separates; easy, windswept silhouettes; slouchy pants and caftans in desert shades, and a slick grouping of hand-knits, including fringed duster coats over metallic trikinis and summer sweaters for men.
“This is the moment for [industry] professionals,” Verino added. Currently, the upscale brand — with 2010 sales of $54.7 million at current exchange — sells through 50 company-owned stores in Spain and Portugal and more than 100 shop-in-shops at El Corte Inglés locations. Internationally, it has a two-store franchise operation in Riga, Latvia, and 13 points of sale in Mexico.
The downbeat mood at the fashion event was exacerbated by last month’s death of veteran Madrid-based designer Jesús del Pozo, whose company nonetheless held a show. To Barbra Streisand’s rendition of “My Man,” the del Pozo team sent out a Seventies-inspired collection of slim, clean-lined dresses with dropped waists and coquettish tulle hemlines; suits and shifts in heavy cream, camel, burnt orange, and dark olive green, and a series of long black evening dresses with cutouts, a bandeau-like top, and sequined panels. Del Pozo opened his first shop in 1974 on Calle Almirante, currently one of Madrid’s hottest retail arteries.
Agatha Ruiz de la Prada showed one of her most pragmatic collections, which included one-piece dressing, shorts and lots of tent and swing style dresses. There were also stretched out tees in mix-and-match fruity shades with her heart motif and checkerboard graphics.
For the first time, Adolfo Dominguez sat in the front row at his show, suggesting he’s passed the gavel to his 25-year-old daughter and creative director Tiziana, who in women’s wear reinterpreted Fifties silhouettes in sugary pastels and dragonfly prints. The men’s wear of casual washed linens, cotton parkas and hand-printed patchwork for shirts and tees was stronger.
The brand is on the move, opening a store every three days, mainly in Latin America, Asia and Arab countries, said Tiziana Dominguez. “Thanks to expanding international markets, we are able to compensate for declining domestic sales and maintain a consistent growth pattern,” she said. The goal is to have an equal split between domestic and international sales by 2015.
Ailanto, a Barcelona-based label that’s cracked the U.S. market through Anthropologie, led off with short dresses and separates in textured fabrics and roughed-up linen that looked like leather, followed by loads of color including pink, mustard, a water-tone blue-green and exclusive floral and abstract prints inspired by the 19th-century French Nabi movement and contemporary German choreographer Pina Bausch.
Elisa Palomino used to work for John Galliano, which was clear in the Valencia-born designer’s special-occasion dresses featuring strong black and white florals, butterfly motifs and netting or, in contrast, sheer airy-fairy fabrics and delicate embroideries. Palomino showed at London Fashion Week, too, where accounts include Harvey Nichols.
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