If you’re like me, you’re binging all the new fashion shows on YouTube this second. In the midst of all this, I thought I’d tell you about my experience at Madrid Fashion Week. Now you may be looking at your screens right now and wondering, “But Nick, you beautiful and intelligent creature, why does Madrid have a fashion week? I only know French and Italian brands, what the heck?” Well 1) thank you for the kind words, you’re too much and 2) the European fashion world is much larger than that. Spain, though it may not have the same world-renowned status as some of its neighbors, has a reputation for high-quality shoes and leather goods, two products that are the bread and butter of international Spanish luxury brands Manolo Blahnik and Loewe. Oh, and you can’t talk about Spanish fashion without mentioning Zara. It’s parent company Inditex is one of the largest retailers of fast fashion in the world and whose founder, Amancio Ortega, came in sixth place on Forbe’s wealthiest people list with a net worth of $64 billion last year. All this is to say, don’t sleep on Spain’s place in the global fashion market.
Alright ok the library is officially closed, back to the matter at hand. The six-day schedule filled with a variety of collections seeks to celebrate and elevate attention around Spanish designers and the country’s fashion industry. The soonest day I could make my way down to the Feria de Madrid convention center was day four. After getting back to the dorms from our IES Abroad trip to Cáceres, I threw on a black turtleneck, metallic pink Doc Martens, and some gold eyeliner and headed to the metro. The platform for the line heading toward the convention center was crazy crowded. I boarded the train and shared a head-to-toe outfit scan with another woman who, by the look of her oversized gold glasses and fabulous floppy hat, was en route to the same place I was.
Off the train, take a right, up the stairs and onto the street. I took a moment to get my bearings. The convention center was expansive and was hosting more than just fashion week at the time. After circling around the outside a few times, I spotted a pack of Gucci gafas wearing, faux fur stunting fashion pilgrims that led me right where I needed to go. I’m walking up to the modest revolving door entrance when a photographer stops me and asks if he could take a picture of me. I’m just going to use this sentence as a pause to briefly relive this glorious moment of validation. Of course, I said yes and immediately struck a few poses because, ya know, options. I walked off with a new twinkle to my Doc Martens and went to ask about tickets.
I approach a college-age woman working there what’s up with the ticket sitch and she gave me the very fashion response of “you need to know someone”. She took note of my especially choppy Spanish and asked where I was from. I told her and she told me to wait. No way. She returns from behind the desk with a couple of tickets that will get me into the exposition area. I gratefully thank her, smile wide, and run away before she has a chance to change her mind.
[Puts hands in front of face like Stefon from Saturday Night Live] This place had everything—large scale shadow boxes where you could pretend to be on the cover of Vogue, a Smart car turned into a mirror ball, and about 15 small local Madrid clothing brands with garments outside of my income tax bracket. The crowd was diverse, ranging from street-styled youngsters who were ready for an Insta pic at a moment’s notice to luxuriously dressed middle aged people just there for a good time. There were various booths from brands like L’Oreal and Dyson and girl, they even had a discoteca. A disco! There were several screens set up around the hall where the runway shows would be projected for the plebeians to catch a glimpse of what was going on inside the Mercedes Benz tent. My pass certainly did not allow me anywhere near that catwalk, so you best believe I was huddled around one of those screens.
Truth be told, I was only there for an hour due to the fact that I’m a toddler who needs to be fed every two hours. It was long enough to shop around a bit, view one collection, and do some very entertaining people watching. On my way out of the convention center, yet another photographer stopped me for a curb side photo shoot—just telling the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth kids. I planned on going back with a friend the following day, but nature sent me a terrible headache and a wave of fatigue that kept me in my bed sleeping while the shows went on without me. I reflected on my brief peek into the world of Spanish fashion and it got me thinking about how amazing Madrid is. While it’s not one of the cities Vogue may mention in its press coverage, it’s still got a burgeoning community that puts on an E-vent. I felt like I was taking advantage of my time here in a brand new and exciting way. So I guess here’s my little summary statement: if you love something that you’re not sure your study abroad destination has to offer, look again. You’re never ever limited by the place you find yourself. With some good old Google sleuthing and a little bit of luck, I’m sure you can find your corner of the city.