DESTINATION: Madrid, Spain

Viva España! Spain is red-hot! Its solid influence in the global fashion scene is quickly emerging. From high-fashion brands like ethereal Manolo Blahnik, Balenciaga and Custo Barcelona, to modern-day chic from Chie Mihara and Camper, Spain´s age-old commitment to excellence in the craftsmanship and quality of its leather goods permeates the industry.

Scouring Fall 08 Footwear and Accessories trends for MOSAIC brought me to MODACALZADO in Madrid, Spain´s premier international showcase that highlights its artisanal brands, including Pura Lopez, Magrit, Pedro Garcia, Jaime Mascaro and Farrutx. It has been a phenomenal experience.

What is it about the spirit of Madrid that stimulates all the senses? Is it its history, its architectural marvels that abound? Could it be the city´s world class museums? Or, its fabulous tapas available on a whim? Whatever the answer may be, Madrid is a city that never sleeps.
A five-day ¨tour de Madrid¨ has inspired MOSAIC´s first Global Escapes list in this world-class city:

1. Calle Serrano is the premier shopping district for the city´s well-heeled and fashion-conscious. El Corte Ingles is Spain´s department store destination, with the Calle Serrano 47 location as its flagship. You can find every brand, from Carolina Herrera to Pura Lopez and Loewe,, a signature Spanish luxury brand popular across Europe.

Check out Swedish Ordning & Reda, located at Calle Serrano 98. This is my new favorite store to organize my life-at home and at work! Drool over their killer, ultra-modern laptop bags, snakeskin journals and other fun storage accessories. Also check out Farrutx, located at Calle Serrano 7. This Spanish footwear empire dominates in both well-crafted casual and dress shoes. Their fresh take on wood bottoms and espradrilles for Spring 08 still lingers .

ZARA Home is still one of my favorite global home destinations. This latest visit validates that global chic is everywhere! See beautiful images from their Spring 08 catalog. ZARA has a presence stateside in major US cities, but its home store is a strong extension of the Spanish lifestyle. Ethnic and tribal influences from around the world are plentiful, in a wide variety of textiles, and in housewares and decorative accents.

2. Maneuver the Metro and the Renfe to truly experience the city.
Madrid is Spain´s capital and largest city, with over 3.2 million city residents. The best way to see all that the city offers is to purchase inexpensive metro renfe for endless travel possibilities. A modern, extensively-mapped system makes it a welcome way to discover Madrid.

3. Plaza Mayor and the La Latina area evoke the history of the city´s artisans.
Walking through Plaza Mayor channels centuries-old history. The square has served as a farmer´s market during the Middle Ages, a bullfighting center, and has even held old-world inquisition trials. More recently, Plaza Mayor has become a foot-traffic mecca with shops, restaurants and entertainment for both tourists and residents alike. In and around the La Latina area, the bohemian arts neighborhood, is the origin of the city of Madrid,where authentic tapas bars are plentiful and nightlife teems.

4. Visit the Museo Nacional del Prado and Museo Nacional Reina Sofia. Do not visit Madrid without tapping into its world-class musuems. My top two picks are the Museo Nacional del Prado, which highlights classical art throughout the centuries. The Museo Nacional Reina Sofia is an eclectic modern-contemporary museum, now running an extensive collection of Picasso´s life-long images and La Noche Española, highlighting the history of Spain´s flamenco art form.

5. Callao and Gran Via neighborhoods are key destinations for shopping and nightlife.
A great tourist location, Callao and Gran Via are home to some of the city´s monumental buildings. This area is also Madrid´s ¨Broadway¨or theater district, as it ranks third in the world for musical premieres. With a strong selection of chic restaurants and great shopping, this area has enough to entertain all.

6. The Chueca neighborhood is alive and hot!
A small gem in Madrid, this neighborhood reeks of urban, cool sophistication, with great boutiques, restaurants and bars. Visit Consuelo Arenas, located at Calle Hortaleza 78, an ultimate shoe-tique for the global fashionista. The store offers high-end brands like Pedro Garcia, Etro and Magrit. Next, head over to Divisa, located at Calle Hortaleza 102 or its sister store at Calle Argensola 2, to unearth signature leather handbags, delicate tops and dresses. NAC, a global fashion paradise with offerings from Juan Lopez Garcia, Maloles and other emerging designers, is home to clean and modern sophistication. Simply amazing!

After a full day, Areia,, located at Calle Hortaleza 92, is the ultimate bohemian cavern for relaxation, while sipping a cup of Moroccan mint tea, or laying out on one of their beds, enjoying a great dessert or cocktail. Next up....Barcelona, Spain.

posted by MOSAICStyle on 7:20 PM