FASHION’S STRAIN IN SPAIN

Byline: Barbara Barker

MADRID — The Spanish textile and apparel industries are hard up for money.
The beleaguered sectors, which rank fifth in production among Common Market countries, are bogged down by more debt that any industry in Spain, said fashion leaders here during the recent Pasarela Cibeles, the twice-yearly rtw shows.
Poor or not, designers — from the fledgling to the established — put on an eclectic, wide-ranging fashion week that included some clearly defined trends, on the one hand, and on the other, what fashion observers have long known: that Spain sometimes marches to a beat nobody else has ever heard of. Roberto Verino was the week’s hands-down star. He went Latino chic with a hot-blooded show spiced with salsa and featuring casual and dressy separates under floor-sweeping coats with hoods and mufflers in high tech fibers; pantsuits with sheer metallic blouses and skinny belts, and at-the-knee dresses in all-over sequins with matching wool cardigans. Verino, backed by his own industrial infrastructure in the northwestern region of Galicia, plans five new franchised stores by late spring. Shops in La Coruua and Barcelona will bow in March, followed by stores in Bilbao, Logrouo and Valencia. But a few designers are trying to break international ground. Palacio and Lemoniez, for example — designed by Miguel Palacio, 33, and Fernando Lemoniez, 31 — is in its second season selling “important quantities” to Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman, according to a spokesman. Originally from San Sebasticn, the duo gave up their store there three years ago to concentrate on foreign markets. In their show, they opted for a certain girlishness, with tidy suits and dresses in tactile mixes of nubby wools, silk chiffon, tweeds and velvet jacquards. Jackets were either long, shapely and belted, or flounced at the waist. Dress silhouettes included high-waisted and wrap versions and the belted coatdress. Lengths were at the knee. Angel Schlesser’s collection was what one industry observer called “very Saks Fifth Avenue,” with clean and tailored looks in imported fabrics, estilo Calvin Klein. Schlesser featured neat working-girl suits in black wool; twinsets with wide Grace Kelly trousers; button-front skirts with baby mohair sweaters, and waistless ribbed-knit dresses in beige and camel.
Because he lacks financing, Schlesser, 37, said he will drop his men’s wear collection, which he’s been producing since 1984. Week-long hype centered on the presence of model Elle Macpherson, here for Victorio and Lucchino, those shrewd designers who think for all the world they are the Andalusian Christian Lacroix. Elle looked somewhat disheveled, but the public ate up her smile.
And the show? Lace and tweeds mixed with chiffon; lace mixed with everything like prints, passementerie and wraparound fringed shawls. Some said the collection was more commercial than usual, while others said it reminded them of their grandmother’s curtains. — Fairchild News Service