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Monday, March 16, 2009

Mad for Madrid

By Anh Tuan Pham...

In recent years, the international jet-set has begun to appreciate Madrid for more than nightly rioja-fueled escapades in tapas bars, after-hour dance clubs and early morning crawls through the side streets of Chueca. With the help of a world-class art fair (ARCO), a slew of contemporary art spaces and an explosion of building projects by all-star architects, Madrid has blown up into a no-joke arts and culture destination.

Spanish fashion, too, has quietly cultivated its own growing number of unique voices looking to break onto the international scene. Here, I bring you highlights from the fall collections of Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week, with backgrounds made up from detail shots of the CaixaForum cultural center, which Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron masterfully converted from an old electrical plant...

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1. Hungrier than a werewolf under a full moon, Jose Castro's opening night show was a dark and macabre line-up of 80s' power silhouettes decked with fur, feathers, satin and reptilian patterning and other animalia. To pre-empt a possible PETA protest, Castro's closing looks came pre-splattered with blood—red paint, we hope.

2. For gals of the nightcrawler kind, Jose Miro kept things above the knee yet texturally down to earth. Loose, bunched, natural wools in blue-brown hues were draped over that urban staple: shiny black leggings.

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3. For global nomads walking through today's cold, dark, hostile world, Jan iu Mes' menswear provides warmth, comfort... and more darkness. The Barcelona design duo paired bulging, super-chunky knits with sharply tailored charcoal tweeds and wools.

4. Carlos Diez is Spain's bad-boy designer—and a lovable one, with his ear-to-ear smile and lumberjack beard. Diez started his show with an amphibious attack of pleated camo dresses and round-shouldered neoprene wetsuits. A later salvo of loose, web-like knits contrasted against shiny and sequined black textures. With models shrouded, mummy-like, in strands of
mustard yellow hair, men's and women's looks confusingly and deliberately blended into one another.

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5. Two design labels shined at the El Ego shows, Madrid Fashion Week's showcase for new talent. Karlotalaspalas delivered a modern, rustic take on menswear, incorporating loose, oversized silhouettes in myriad shades of brown and beige. I imagined chic alpine yodelers on their way to a fondue bar.

6. Meanwhile, Marta Montono re-interpreted early-80s' b-boy style into a collection of adorably plush, boy-stuffed animals. Sporting a pair of teddy-bear Air Jordan bedslippers and a squeeze-ably soft ghetto-blaster, these outfits are perfect for busting a few headspins and windmills before bed.

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