Cuca Solana

MÁLAGA, Spain — The founder of Madrid’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, initially known as Pasarela Cibeles, Cuca Solana was the quixotic driving force behind Spain’s catwalk scene for more than three decades.

Born Leonor Pérez Pita in Madrid in 1940, Solana in 2016 handed the reins of her beloved Pasarela to Charo Izquierdo, a prominent journalist and communications executive. The following year, Izquierdo also took charge of the fashion sector of Ifema, the Spanish capital’s international congress and events organization.

Still highly involved in the development of Madrid’s fashion week — now under the banner of Ifema — as chair of its advisory board, Solana had been battling cancer for sometime when she was hospitalized earlier this week, hoping to return home shortly.

On Wednesday, MBFW Madrid announced the passing of its charismatic former director, lauding “The Great Lady of Spanish Fashion” for showcasing top-flight designers, whilst “keeping an eye on emerging talent.”

Solana’s last official public appearance took place in December at the National Fashion Awards, held at the Museo del Traje in Madrid, where Queen Letizia presented her with a trophy honoring her contribution to the prestige of the Spanish fashion industry.

“If you like something, it helps you live,” she liked to say, speaking of her passion for fashion. On the other hand, Solana could be counted on to speak her mind regarding her dislikes. When asked about her aversion for underweight models, her husky-voiced response was invariably the same: “I like girls to be a picture of health,” she would say. “They should make the clothes come alive.”

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