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Madrid Comes to N.Y.

As part of a plan to increase ties to the American market, the Council of Fashion Designers of Spain showed off some talent with "MadridFashionNewYork," an...

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As part of a plan to increase ties to the American market, the Council of Fashion Designers of Spain showed off some talent with “MadridFashionNewYork,” an exhibition in SoHo Thursday night.

This story first appeared in the June 16, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Carolina Herrera was among the guests on hand to support the efforts of 11 Spanish designers including Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Ailanto, Miguel Palacio and Roberto Torreta. Having held its first initiative last fall at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York, the latest event was planned to help create a solid platform for the promotion of Spanish design in the U.S.

The exhibition was held at The Trump Group’s offices. Many of the new Trump SoHo hotel’s investors are Spanish, according to a CFDS spokeswoman.

Modesto Lomba, who heads up the CFDS, explained the impetus for the exhibition: “Definitely, New York is the capital of fashion in the world today.”

The Venezuelan-born Herrera is at ease in Spain. Aside from having a factory for her CH Carolina Herrera collection and several stores for the brand there, her daughter Carolina lives there and is married to a Spanish bullfighter. “Really the only way to see them is to have a show here. That way you can see every designer and what they do,” the designer said. “This was the first idea for the beginning so people know they exist.”

She was equally enthusiastic about pulling together an American effort. “We should organize ourselves or any American designer who wants to show in Europe. They should do the same thing with us.”

When Natasha De Santis, the spokeswoman for the CFDS, referred to Herrera as being a queen in Spain, the designer laughed and shook her head. “You have a very good queen in Spain. Queen Sofia — the real one.”

Executives from the CFDS met with Council of Fashion Designers of America president Diane von Furstenberg and executive director Steven Kolb last week to discuss other prospects. From the start of her presidency, von Furstenberg has pledged to make American designers more of a global force. She herself is staging a runway show Wednesday in Florence. The prospect of having some Spanish designers stage a group runway show in New York was among the ideas discussed between the two governing groups. Helping American designers who are interested in selling and marketing their brands in Spain is another possibility, but the talks are conceptual at this stage, said Kolb, who plans to sit down with the Spanish contingency this summer.

But he was quick to emphasize the initiative is a global one. While in Florence for next week’s Pitti Uomo, Kolb said he will meet with executives about “cementing” something with the CFDA.

He also recently met with the British Fashion Council’s chairman Harold Tillman. Setting up exchange programs between British and American students is a possibility, Kolb said.

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