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Clothes…nothing more

Every six months, at the beginning of fashion week in Madrid, press and public focus their interest on fashion, on what happens on the platform where fashion models and clothes models parade with the aesthetic proposals of the designers and with the pretension of creating desire. But what’s behind those clothes? What work is hidden behind the glamor that these perfect women and men transmit, after the enthusiastic applause at the end of the show? When you talk about fashion shows, few realize the laborious and intense design work behind them; when the expenses involved in organizing the runway are listed, the contributions of private and public sponsors are carefully detailed, but little or nothing is said about the cost entailed for that garment to be there. Therefore, because all the links in the chain are necessary, and because MBFWM as container would have no reason for being without the content, the collections of the creators, from this platform I would like to bring up what, in limited occasions, is placed on the table.

If clothes, whether they be more or less fashionable, of a higher or lower price, have to be worn by all, cars, one way or another, are also used by all and, like it or not, are omnipresent in our lives, just as the clothes that every day we wrap around us … That’s why I especially like the simile I’ve sometimes heard used by designer Modesto Lomba – Creative Director of fashion brand Devota & Lomba -, comparing the cost of a car’s prototype to that of a dress’s. I would like to put figures to this simile. US of A magazine Top Gear published some time ago that Toyota had invested a billion dollars in manufacturing the first Lexus. That is, a billion dollars before even producing the first model. And you will ask, how is this astronomical figure, accounted for? Well, those accounts are reached after adding the costs resulting from all the operations necessary in order to arrive at the final prototype: from the design team making the first sketch, until the vehicle leaves the production line, a process in which they can spend three years and many millions of euros, and in which expenses of materials, energy, salaries, etc… are recorded. Being aware of all the implications, nobody will be shocked by the astronomical figure, and once the car arrives at the dealership, the price will have descended considerably … thank goodness!

Differences aside, of which there are many, of course, a runway look has a cost for the designer that is not, by far, the one that it will later have when it reaches the final consumer. And why? Well for the same reasons that the first Lexus cost millions: because you have to take into account the expenses of maintaining a team as well as a running working space for six months until you reach the runway prototype; because it does not cost the same to buy meters of fabric to make a single garment than when they have to acquire a greater volume for production; because the ateliers where they are sewn, charge a higher price per garment, since they do not make a series but unique pieces to be showcased on the runway, which increases the effort and, consequently, the price; because they have invested hours in looking for suitable fabrics and have travelled to trade shows to know the novelties in materials; because many, even, draw and have their prints specially made; because they have spent hours looking for inspiration with which to devise a new idea that, at the same time, is related to the brand’s history; because a lot of time has been invested in elaborating the patterns, cutting them, making the tests, selecting what is finally shown and what is not … Are you tired of such enumeration? Well, there’s more.

A fashion show has a lot to do with a spectacle, since at the end of the day it is a theatrical staging that you have to plan, design and carry out. I read these days in a newspaper that the designer, in the fashion shows of MBFWM – we have to specify that those who show off or outside the official enclaves run with all the expenses -, the only thing he does is to assume the cost of elaborating the clothes… Beyond assuming that cost, which is a little bit more complex than it seems, as I have just said, to create an atmosphere that lasts 15 to 20 minutes during a fashion show, that envelopes and enhances their creations, music and editing are also essential. It is true that there are designers who opt for a minimalist simplicity according to their aesthetics, but there are many who put in a lot of money, effort and imagination in creating a scenography according to the spirit of the collection. There are those who commission the creation of special music for their fashion show or those who have a live band, as our beloved David Delfin did on numerous occasions, or Montesinos, Juana Martín, Roberto Verino, Isabel Núñez, to name just a few, those who give a total twist to the rectangle of the catwalk to transform it into a circus or a jungle, like Jorge Vázquez, or those who recreate a 1920’s Hollywood atmosphere like Andrés Sardá; those who install XXL size sculptures, like Ana Locking, or who, ‘simply’, go to the amusement park, ride the public in a boat and place the models among their mechanical beasts, like Maria ke Fisherman.

And all this individual and collective effort, which is repeated inexorably every six months, in reality, what is it for? Well, for a lot, or so it should be … Even though there are fashion companies that do not do fashion shows because they do not consider them useful for their sales strategies, those that invest so much time, money and energy in doing so have their reasons. Thanks to those few minutes of fame, they achieve visibility and notoriety before a very broad audience that is, after all, what all this is done for. The visual content generated by fashion shows is also a fundamental part of the material used by fashion brands to show their work to potential buyers, whether they are wholesalers or final customers, and to nourish their websites. But after the rush of adrenaline that involves showing your work, the vertigo and insecurity that comes by being judged for your creations, comes the even harder dizziness of facing the market, of achieving that generated desire for those clothes, unique until then, when they are replicated, and women or men take them to the street and incorporate them into their lives. Without this last link in the chain, the whole process would be meaningless, because it is you who reads these lines, who looks at the printed garments in these pages, the raison d’être of this periodic whirlwind that is fashion and fashion shows.

Article published in magazine Yo Dona (El Mundo) on January 27th, 2017.