Tag Archives: Madrid

A ROCK ALIEN IN FASHIONLAND

I arrived to Madrid yesterday  afternoon…again. Yeah, I know, I should move here and start saving the money I’m investing in flights for another worthy enterprise. Believe me, I’m trying, in fact, this trip has to do with my plans for moving to the big city. Let’s see how it goes.

My sis wanted to invite someone to visit Madrid Fashion Week #MBMFW, as she had a spare invitation. As weird as it might sounds and having in mind I’m not into fashion trends, I have to admit there are several aspect I’m interested in, thus the possibility of nosing what’s hot in one of these fashion summits for free, was quite attractive.

It’s funny this point Agnès and I have reached of understanding and experimenting activities we wouldn’t carry out for ourselves. She wouldn’t go to rock shows, and I wouldn’t go shopping, but we love approaching the other’s side, and at the end of the day, we enjoy any kind of events together. She didn’t have to insist nor ask me. It took me 30 seconds to tell her I was IN.

The plan was set, she was to pick me up at the airport, we’d eat something quick and go to the fair to see if we could catch any runway show. We accomplish the target.

The week consists, not only of the fashion shows featuring collections by established and young designers, but also promo and marketing. Thus you can find lots of stands of the different brands of makeup, magazines, and other sponsors, and of course, in order to catch your attention there are scheduled activities for amusement.

When we arrived L’Oréal stand was helding a course of make-up, promoting a line of cosmetics.

There were photo calls in search for new talents where you could pose for a pic and then participate in contests and…who knows? Perhaps become a model.

Magazines stands were giving issues for free. We got this month’s Bazaar and girls were crazy looking after it, because the only one available was summer’s edition. I was flipping.

There was a double runway show scheduled while we were there, and we tried to sneak in, queuing waiting for the organization staff to confirm there were seats available who those not having the invitation or admission ticket. They stopped allowing people entering right behind us, so at least it was worth the wait.

I felt like attending one of these shows, whose cuts you’ve seen many times on TV and live the experience, but also wanted to observe the people who attend these events, professionals aside.

I was surprised to notice a remarkable presence of ladies in their 50-60’s, not pretending to prove anything, just having fun at the runways and nosing at anything, basically same as me.

I already knew fashion world was superficial and cold, but yesterday my suspicions were confirmed. With this I’m not saying all people involved are like that, but a great deal of them are close to the stupidity borders.

Sex and the City and Carrie Bradshaw have affected at least a couple of generations. There were girls with such outfits, Agnès, who is into fashion as you know, and I were shocked wondering whether they were dressed up for the occasion, as if in a costumes party, or they were for real. Impossible high heels some couldn’t wear without seeming dumb like ducks, perfect make up, nails and hair which at least took them 2 hours to get ready, and this forced attempt to be the coolest and most trending girl in the place. A bit ridiculous. You can be stylish and be influenced by fashion, but at the end of the day, if you’re such a slave to fashion, you’re just a copycat.

It was really funny to hear some conversations around and realize the level of intelligence and smart talk of people too. Sure not many had read something as simple as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Thinking this generation is the future, gives m the creeps. not only that, looking great implied being super rude to other people, and also being allowed to look over your shoulder. Terrific people!

Once I’ve criticized everything I saw, I will tell you the best of the whole thing was the beer, which was cheap. Guess not many skinny girls nor models drink much of it, so the price was ridiculous, and we were very glad.

Finally after queuing for 20 minutes we were IN the lounge ready for the shows.

Some Spanish celebrities and other relevant characters I wasn’t aware of, were occupying the firsts rows. All kind of cameras and flashes were allowed, which was very interesting, and the press photographers were at the end of the catwalk, right in front of the models, for better captures.

Agnès was giving me feedback, explaining about the lighting of the shows, focused on remark the outfits for this press, thus, even I wasn’t in the best place, nor with a great equipment, lighting and other circumstances considered, I can’t complain about the pictures I took.

First collection by Leyre Valiente, was very sci-fi inspired, with sheer fabrics sometimes, and other pieces featuring an excess of pleats.

The second collection by Eva Soto Conde, was completely inspired in origami. I did like this one the most, although there were dresses which reminded me of party garlands. Very colourful, this collection was lively.

Again I expected shows to be more extended in length, however everything was really quick, no more than 12 minutes each set.

Models were nice, but nothing to do with Gisele Bundchen or Naomi Campbell. The girls were really young, pale and very very skinny. Agnès had read a comment saying models were healthy icons, but believe me, that’s a fallacy.

Few years ago there was a scandal related to the extreme thinness in catwalks, and there was a standard minimum of BMI (Body Mass Index) marked as to control the models. What I saw yesterday was outrageous, and really can’t imagine how was before. TV really makes people look fatter, now I know that.

We spent 2 ½ hours submitted to super dark and artificial lights, awful disco music, surrounded by this halo of coolness and glamour. Not so glamour after all, professionals are working and you can see that in their attitude, observing, processing and taking notes, and then lots of young people, especially girls and fashion guys, who apparently will be spreading the trends right away.

Was it worth attending? Absolutely. I reckon it was an interesting experience and company, and consequently gossips and laughs, couldn’t be better. From time to time it rules being an intruder or an undercover agent checking what’s going on on the other side.

LET’S PLAY THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND THE MODEL

I’m glad my last visit to Madrid was so productive, filling an agenda with plenty of activities we don’t usually carry out when I’m visiting.

I’ve already told you about Hopper’s exhibition, and The Wildhearts’ special program at Viva Las Vegas. There were lots of beers and tapas with friends, and nice walks, but I want  to tell you about one of the funniest activities I shared with Agnès, which I’m looking forward to repeating, related to her blog, From Here to Fashion, photography, nice locations and outfits.

The blog cover many aspects regarding fashion, as you can imagine. Trends, designers, models, complements, vintage shops, photographers… topics which imply a research carried out via Internet, paper magazines, and the quest for inspiration in local shops. It’s not so simple as it might seem, and takes its time.

What has this to do with me? Sure you’re wondering, considering I’m not a fashion addict, even though I’m more interested and updated than it seems. For all the fields I’ve mentioned, my sis can handle by herself, but when it comes to show her own outfits, she modeling herself, in order not to deliver identical and boring pictures assisted by the automatic shooting mode, she needs some help.  Most of times, the appointed photographer is Kiko, and even though we know he’d do whatever for her beloved, he’s not into photography, thus, this outfits improvised sessions are quick, and taken in a very standard manner, so he doesn’t get bored or tired.

Imagine when Agnès asked me if I could take some pictures of her, and I accepted right away…she was so happy!

Agnès is a very controlling and organized person in some aspects in her life, as most of us, there are others in which she’s total chaos. I was amazed he way she handles her blog, scheduling posts, listing the outfits she wants to show, analyzing the complements to wear so everything perfectly matches. Quite impressive really!

You know our styles are totally different, I think mine hasn’t really changed in at least 15 years, but for including some items in my looks, such us make up, hairdo, skirts, tighter t-shirts, bags and glasses. That aside, I’m the kinda jeans and rock/film t-shirts with sneakers kinda girl. Perhaps I should ask Agnès to talk about my style more in depth, as far as I know, all the differences omitted, she likes my style as an important part of my personality.

On the other hand, since I met her many years ago, she’s changed her style completely, from top to bottom.  It’s funny to think what she’s gonna wear next time I’m seeing her. Really unexpected.

Let’s get to the point. I took pics of three outfits in two days, and the locations chosen were really nice.

First place was Campo del Moro gardens, which belong to the Royal Palace. A great variety of vegetation and trees , combined with beautiful fountains, and the quietness ruling, make of this place one of the coolest spots in Madrid.

Agnès was wearing a beautiful dress she found at her favorite vintage shop in the city, complemented with sandals and socks (I’m not into this mixture), and a cane bag resembling to the old fishing ones our grandparents used to carry.

I reckon she enjoyed the session lots, as I was shooting bursts, counting for her to move, and trying to make the whole thing more dynamic and interactive. Moreover, I was trying to cover her requirements regardless, and if I had to lay on the pavement to take a good shot of her sandals, even though I was covered with dust and pine stings after, I wouldn’t care less. I was up to everything.

Second session was that very same day after lunch, but unfortunate it was a quick one, due to terrible heat in the afternoon. We went nearby, to Madrid Rio, a project created at the bank of Manzanares river. It’s become a nice area the locals use for leisure activities and chilling out. Trees were planted but unfortunately haven’t grown up enough as to offer shelter from the killing sun.

This time Agnès was wearing a summer black jumpsuit, short, fresh and comfy, remarked by a pair of with platform sole sandals with a bow in white, quite pin up like.

Sun was so rough on us, she had to borrow my sunglasses to avoid much frowning. I was melting and almost blind, so the pictures were a bit lower profile. Sis, my apologies, I was dehydrating!

We were supposed to come back to Thyssen Museum to see the permanent exhibition, but it was such a wonderful morning at the Prado meadow, lying under the trees, enjoying the breeze and the fresh grass, we decided to spend some time simply for out joy and amusement, taking pictures, chatting and observing the people around. It was a blast!

This dress Agnès was wearing is one of my favorites, blue, red and white. Adorable and super easy to combine. In fact, complements chosen to fit were marvelous and mostly in red, which is my favorite color. A red satchel bag, the red Ray-Ban’s, the flat shoes and the red Swatch. Perfect. and the final touch with the golden bracelets.

It is really an interesting experience to take this kind of pictures. I’m not used to people modeling nor posing for me, nor having to capture details of things. I’m more into bands in motion, buildings, street art, and people in natural attitudes, so this is completely new for me, and I love it. Moreover, the fact that the model is my best friend encourages me to get good results, thus I try my best even though I’m not a pro by all means. Still, my condition as amateur doesn’t have to stop me from learning, trying and working hard as long as I can help my sis.

And finally, not only the best reward is seeing my pictures in her blog, which I encourage you to take a look at, and where you’ll find her outfits better explained, but also seeing her pleased and happy. And of course, the end of the sessions followed by a cold beer at one of these classic taverns, so typical in Madrid. Cheers!

Can’t wait for the next session, sis! Thanks for trusting me 🙂

MR. HOPPER, DELIGHTED TO MEET YOU

Wow! This has really been a hell of a break! Reckon I needed it, in order to disconnect from real world, and put things in order a bit, especially setting some strategies to get a job as soon as August is finished, as if I was getting back to school.

I can’t really tell how many times I’ve been to Madrid, 10-15? I don’t know, the truth is that I’ve never behaved as a proper tourist visiting monuments and that kind of stuff. My short visits to the big city have consisted on going out for tapas, attending gigs and getting booze in Malasaña, meeting friends on the way, of course.

I wanted to do something different for a change, and in order to enjoy this getaway in the lowest cost style, I was looking for cheap plans. On one hand, my sis Agnès asked me to take some pictures of her wearing different outfits for her blog. Also we scheduled a visit to the temporary exhibition of Edward Hopper’s paintings at Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum on Friday.

You know I’m more into photography as a way to reflect reality, and love its most extreme views. Sometimes I find difficult to comprehend the meaning of many paintings and there are waves or tendencies I simply don’t connect with.

Nevertheless, I’ve always felt attracted to Hopper’s work, for its reality, its immediacy, the captures of the daily routines, the representation of the society habits … quite close to pictures.

Things have changed much since the times I used to go to Museums with my teachers. There was a rule never to be contradicted under penalty or punishment, and that rule was Silence. Well, last Friday the museum was close to an open air market. Kids running, posh ladies speaking on the phone, and people just commenting out loud just to show their knowledge about Hopper and art in general. Agnès was getting terribly upset  and  I decided to take it easy and enjoy the contents of the exhibition, otherwise I’d be isolated by my headphones listening to some inspiring music. This is the way I’m visiting museums, on my own, and with my personal soundtrack.

With the experience abroad and the attempt to get kids close to art and other fields such as science, technology and history, it’s true museums have become more interactive, and I support that, but can anyone tell me what a 6-year old kid has to do at Hopper’s exhibition but getting bored and make noise? And what’s even worse, why didn’t the parents take any actions to quiet them down? Dear parents, it’ll be too late the day you realize about your wrong educative methods. It’s a direct link between cause and consequence, thus misbehavior and bad manners among adults are likely to be transmitted and inherited by the following generations, thus, don’t complain the day you realize your children are assholes. You are the principle responsible for creating little unbearable monsters.

Once my outburst has lowered and eventually vanished, and avoiding an attempt of exert my art criticism and analysis skills, I’d just like to share with you my positive impressions regarding the exhibition and Hopper’s work in general.

Many of his most remarkable paintings were missing, but still there was a generous bunch of enjoyable material at the ground floor of the museum.

There were a couple of remarkable aspects that immediately caught my eye, related to his earliest work.

On one hand, the series of covers he delivered for The Morse Dry Dock Dial, an in-house publication for NY employees at the Dry Dock and Repair Company. Very industrial and rough, it’s still interesting to observe this commercial point of view from the artist.

On the other, not only he produced pieces painting oil on canvas, which in fact he perfections later, but also watercolours on paper and etching on wove paper.

The Lonely House, East Side Interior, Evening Wind, Night Shadows…dated between 1918 and 1923. Acquainted with the the artist’s background, and the major work he produced, the etchings were the confirmation of Hopper’s trademark. He starts using the light in a dramatic way, as to transmit certain emotions which had to to with isolation, loneliness, mystery…

The collection also featured some pieces belonging to other painters, such as Walter Sickert, Degas, or George Bellows, sharing the same style, and in some cases the visions of North America in those times.

Nevertheless Hopper has a preference for scenes including very few people, as to reflect this isolation and loneliness I was talking about. Two on the Aisle, or First Row Orchestra, would be good examples of large settings  almost empty.

Characters in his paintings could be defined as grotesque somehow. They are sinister, their faces angular, and in most cases, the eye sockets are just black, empty, depriving them of expression, aimless.

Hopper had a taste for American Landscapes. Lighthouses, prairies, gas stations in the middle of nowhere, sea sights… but also the city. He was great defining NY corners and grey walls, providing them with a sense of alienation. You can see one of his paintings and be able to identify the city of New York. And those uncommon threatening places everybody tries to ignore, such as cargo platform train stations, so real many people wondered why he wanted to record them.

In many cases, the scenes reflected in his paintings are so transitory, Agnès and I were discussing about Hopper’s techniques. Did he painted by heart? Did he take pictures with a camera first? His captures very often seem shots, for their reality and immediacy. For landscaping, not involving movement, that wouldn’t be a problem, and in fact, that kind of painting is very accurate, but what when it involves people in motion? Some of them had to be images coming from his mind, having the setting frozen, and developing his self-creations , he’d easily manage to put them together in an harmonious way. But when you stand in front of paintings such as Apartment Houses you can’t help but wondering…and I can only think of Hopper as a master recovering daily routines.

The lighting is fascinating. The important role of the windows for indoors scenes is outstanding, for both day or night. I must admit night captures are definitely more intense and I prefer them.

It’s curious that, regardless of urban or country settings, characters in their paintings are extremely static, even though sometimes are depicted as if chatting. Hopper’s subjects are the reflection of frustration, isolation and boredom once again. Couples seem unhappy and distant, and everybody seems to be diving deep into their own worlds and thoughts.

There are so many aspects that come to my mind again as if brainstorming regarding Hopper and his paintings, I could be writing here for hours, thinking of the endless details he was able to catch. It’d be for the best you could visit any of his temporary exhibitions if it was possible, to enjoy an overwhelming experience of emotions and feelings hard to describe. It’s true you can observe and analyze the paintings via internet or just purchasing a book with his most outstanding works compiled, but at the end of the day, it’s the direct impression, the impact of an image in front of your eyes, what really counts.

COOL JOINTS – IN DREAMS CAFE

Few days ago, my friend Jaume suggested I should also talk about cool places to have drinks or dinner, or whatever. I thought it might be a good idea, but lately I’m not going out so much due to my state of poverty.

My latest two discoveries in Madrid have made me decide that, from time to time, I’ll start recommending joints to crash in. The idea is to add some picks and highlight what I like most and why, far from creating  Zagat or Michelin guides, and my visits must not be necessarily recent. And I can tell you something for sure, I know maaany cool places.

Let’s get started.

I had heard about In Dreams Café in Madrid some months ago. All of a sudden, several people were telling me wonders about this place, so I needed to check it out last weekend. Saturday was the chosen day for having lunch and few cocktails before Michael Monroe’s show.

Truth is that we were all a bit hangover because Friday, intended to be a “light” night, ended up in the morning, and our stomachs were damaged, yet starving.

When we arrived, I had a crush on the joint immediately. It’s kind of a small  and cozy American diner, full of icons and very kitsch, with pink walls and red lights, full of retro furniture, leopard  and classic rock presence on every spot. It’s not that the place is dirt, no way, but you know, it reminded me of those NY venues and pubs, where you can see everything is in its place but there are certain details not taken care of, which make the joints special and unique. Don’t know how to explain it, certain rock places exude some sort of decadence which make them real, alive, and In Dreams Café made me have same feeling.

Good music, relaxing atmosphere, not only you can have amazing cocktails but also you can eat, and honestly, what I tasted was great. Dishes have glorious names, I had the veggie Pat Boone burger (yess, we veggies are welcome!), and my friends the Elvis burger, both served in these plastic baskets, as in the old American movies. The onion rings, OMG! They were unbelievable, and pity I wasn’t really hungry (I don’t usually eat much before a gig, and then this very often turns against me, allowing mayhem to step in), because desserts and milkshakes were very suggesting.

The girls, we had two Bloody Mary’s, including the celery stick, and it’s really cool waiters ask you how much you want your drink to be spicy, and Kiko, had an American, which tasted really good.

I find these all-in places fantastic, great atmosphere, allowing you to keep conversations filled up with great music, plus food and elaborated drinks are maaaarvelous.

You wanna know how much I liked the place? Let me tell you one thing, we came back for more Bloody Mary’s the day after. Convinced? That place is a must, wish there was something like that here, it’s a place the owner might have not invested millions on it, yet passion for American 50-60’s stuff is out of question. 

(In Dreams Cafe is in C/San Mateo 4, 28004 Madrid, close to Tribunal tube st.)