By  on November 2, 2005

MADRID — The wave of femininity that washed over the spring season was not lost on the biannual apparel fair, known as SIMM, held here in September.

Key trends at the SIMM-sponsored runway presentations, Pasarela Cibeles, were superfeminine dresses and softer edges overall; shirring and pleats; knee-hovering lengths; swing skirts; the Sixties and sleeveless shifts; incongruous fabric combos; a palette of black-for-day/white-for-night, in some cases, and bright lollipop shades or powdered neutrals such as putty, taupe, mocha and cinnamon. Giant feed bags and high-heel sandals with wraparound ankle straps on platform bottoms were among the dominant accessories.

Veteran exhibitor Elisa Cortés cited "more [new] clients than usual, particularly from Mexico and Chile." Skirts with black-and-white botanical motifs and colorful, patterned sundresses sold better than pants "because femininity is a big trend."

Cortés' 16-year-old eponymous label is distributed through 120 domestic points of sale and three company-owned and franchised stores, in Seville, Granada and Puerto de Santa Maria in Spain's sherry region, where the firm is based. In addition, 55 percent of Cortés' revenue is generated by export markets, and she has a network of agents, mainly in the U.K., Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany.

"We had a good show with positive reaction from local multibrand stores, but traffic was soft," said Yolanda Moreno Ruiz of shirt maker Mirto, based here. She reported visits from Hong Kong and South Korean retailers, but, in general, few foreigners.

Narrow, feminine silhouettes with embroideries, rendered in dress fabrics such as shantung, were "taking off," she said. Hot colors for spring were yellow, purple, citrus, grass green and turquoise.

Mirto produces 300,000 men's shirts each season and 30,000 for the four-year-old women's line, which wholesales from 40 euros, or $50 at current exchange, to 60 euros, or $75. The U.S. remains a premier market and Mexico is an up-and-comer.

Held in six halls of the Juan Carlos I fairgrounds here, SIMM is the second- largest apparel show in Europe, after Düsseldorf's CPD. According to IFEMA, the event's organizer, vendors totaled 1,009 — an increase of 49, or about 5 percent, over last year. They spread over 362,000 square feet, an additional 3.4 percent of floor space.Traffic was up 3.6 percent over the previous year, to 26,566. Ten percent were foreigners, similar to the count in September 2004, mainly from Portugal, Italy, France, Mexico, Turkey and the U.K.

SIMM's dates conflicted with major Paris trade events, but director Pola Iglesias said she was "content" with the fair's results. Asked how the July edition of Bread & Butter Barcelona affected the Madrid show, she said 40 vendors from the Barcelona region had dropped out. She called B&BB "a happening, but it doesn't threaten Madrid."

Highlights from Pasarela Cibeles, which featured 27 designers and 22 shows, included:

  • Agatha Ruiz de la Prada's toned-down silhouettes, which some sources said was a result of the November opening of the brand's first U.S. store, on New York's Wooster Street. Dresses and wide-bottomed pants featured bubble-like polkadots, multicolored waist treatments and constellation motifs; shorts and swimwear came in spirited butterfly prints, and the colors, signature Agatha, were orange, lemon and lime, turquoise, fuchsia, berry and pink.

  • José Miró's silky, body-skimming dresses with asymmetric treatments and lacing (some of the week's best); and a skinny denim series with crisp white cotton shirts and tanks. The Mallorcan designer opened his first store, a two-level location in startling Mediterranean blue, last May in his hometown of Palma de Mallorca.

  • Ailanto's sundresses in cotton voile with lace, floral and crocheted appliqués, and bold awning stripes for longer-length dresses and separates, both with Western-style canvas boots by Ursula Mascaró for Ailanto. The Barcelona label is helmed by identical twin brothers Iñaki, the designer, and Aitor Muñoz.

  • Roberto Torretta's strapless and halter-style dresses in satin and silk taffeta, real clothes for real women, with provocative décolleté; natural waists, and below-the-knee lengths. Color focused on black, wild mustard, deep ink blue and white; the only print was done in grape green.

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