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Made in Madrid: Europe’s Most Fashionable City

On the surface, Madrid is possibly one of Europe’s most attractive capital cities. It’s all elegant, wide boulevards, colourful plazas lined by frescoed buildings, striking wrought-iron balconies on historic mansions and Italianate Baroque royal residences.

Cloaks, scarfs, pastry to porcelain, its all exceptional craftsmanship of Madrid

On the surface, Madrid is possibly one of Europe’s most attractive capital cities. It’s all elegant, wide boulevards, colourful plazas lined by frescoed buildings, striking wrought-iron balconies on historic mansions and Italianate Baroque royal residences. Its neighbourhoods have distinctly different vibes, from the quiet, leafy, upper-class Salamanca to the landmark and enigmatic Barrio de La Latina, and there’s an almost palpable sense of celebration and community come Sunday when the whole city turns out to socialise in the markets and cafe terraces.

Capas Seseña boutique
Capas Seseña boutique

But behind the facades, there’s a creative community of artists, designers and makers at the forefront of Madrid’s fashion scene doing exciting things in workshops across the city.

Madrid is a fashion hub: its commercial history is intertwined with the industry. It’s the home of world-renowned leather handbag makers Loewe, formed in 1846, and is where Amancio Ortega founded the Inditex fashion group, encompassing brands such as Zara, Bershka and Massimo Dutti.

“It’s a really exciting time for Spain”, explains my guide, Jo Wivell from Corazon Travel, as we walk through the surprisingly sleepy, sun-dappled streets of central Madrid on a Friday afternoon. It’s exciting, she says, because there’s a new kind of couture on the scene: it’s an ‘old meets new’ affair in which young, progressive designers are incorporating old techniques and traditional crafts into their pieces.

She’s giving me a one-day taster tour of Corazon’s seven-night textiles, food and fashion trip, which departs in October 2018 and meets some of Spain’s top artisans. Our first stop is with silk painter Claudio Fonseca.

Tucked away on an unassuming street (Calle de Cervantes) not far from the city’s main art galleries, his shop – Lola Fonseca, named after his mother who started the family tradition of silk painting – has a modest, whitewashed front and a simple window display.

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© This article was first published in June-July 2018 edition of World Travel Magazine.

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