I met with Horacio Vázquez once again, whom I met while I was participating on the Fashion Council of Jalisco. He was the President of the Chamber of Jewelry at the time, and he currently holds the same position at Expo Guadalajara. The reason I contacted him was to hear everything about Desfilia, the new venue at Expo Guadalajara that emerges as an innovative, unique, and original concept.
RD: How did the idea of Desfilia originate?
HV: It was created with the goal of integrating the concept of fashion. When Mexico participated in the global exhibit in Shanghai, Jalisco was asked to close the Mexican Pavilion; the jewelry, clothing, and footwear parades were presented by Rosario Mendoza and Sergio Bustamante among others, and Ximena Navarrete, who was Miss Universe at the time, was modeling. Also in attendance were Federico Díaz and Juan Alonso Niño Cota, presidents of Jewelry and Footwear respectively.
They realized that in that exhibit, a specialized area was adapted for catwalks, they even mentioned that they had a runway with a platform that could be elevated and brought down, depending on the kind of assembly that was needed, and they brought this idea to Expo Guadalajara. At the time, it was like a dream come true, to create a specialized room made to promote design, runways, and fashion. As you know, we have different fashion-related exhibits throughout the year; Intermoda, which is the biggest of them all, but also Expo Jewelry, Modama, Expo Sweet XV, Expo Wedding, Minerva Fashion, International Beauty, and now Fashion Weekend Guadalajara. Fourteen out of the 85 of our annual exhibits had the adequate profile to promote a catwalk at Desfilia, and we worked hard, as it is very costly to adapt a place for runways. Also, our designers and models require pleasant places, sometimes these places were improvised and uncomfortable for them. The lack of space and this improvisation was putting the performance of the best shows at risk. We asked Lorenza Luquín, a fashion producer, to help us and give us the tips and requirements to make that backstage an ideal place, with well-conditioned dressing/hair-styling/make-up rooms; at that time we decided to adapt the place so it could serve at least 30 models at once. Hence the hair-styling area, with the 30 specialized electric sockets for the dryers, which consumes a lot of electricity; make-up spaces; lockers; restrooms; a stage for a DJ and a choreographer; and in the bottom part, a room where models are waiting in line to come out onto the catwalk.
We decided that this room, which was formerly a restaurant, was the right venue, since it is located in a special place in Expo Guadalajara. It was abandoned at that time, which gave us the opportunity to improve the façade. It could also be integrated through the exhibit area, in such a way that we decided to begin construction, and little by little we adapted it and realized that it had to be a “Performance Room”, so aside from its essential use of promoting fashion shows, it also had the versatility to promote the innovation of products from all kinds of sectors: construction, beer, cars, auto parts, culture-related topics, and culturally, adopt books that promote art and design.
Fortunately it has worked out really well, since we have signed many agreements and have lots of business prospects. We are very pleased to host Fashion Weekend this week, and the International Book Fair already booked us to host their specialized press. We will probably have Nobel Literature prizes at the International Book Fair. We are closing a deal with Exposición Ferretera (Hardware Exhibit), we closed a deal last week with the Construction Chamber, we have the inauguration of Mind at hand, etc. The venue was opened with Desfilia, and now Intermoda will be using the facilities for their anniversary edition.
These events help bolster and promote innovation, and it helps that there is one of few specialized venues in the world, and the only one of its kind in Mexico, that is available to support their ventures.
RD: How does Desfilia, and its international projection, represent Guadalajara and Mexico?
HV: We think we stand out from all the other venues precisely because offering unique spaces in our country, we call it Desfilia, a place that bears innovation in its essence and will be a big part of the future of Mexico, which makes it ideal to invite all exhibitors, organizing committees, and different conferences that lean towards more and better innovation, a venue that brings out the best of the exhibitions. Desfilia cannot rent its premises for just any kind of event, we have actually turned down some proposals that don’t match this profile that I’m referring to. It must be an innovative fashion or design-related proposal, we accept only a very specialized profile, mainly regarding its relation to fashion.
RD: Where does the name come from?
HV: We were looking for an easy, short, catchy, and unique name, one that had some kind of relation with all of this. The word Desfilia sounds similar to the words for parade and runway in Spanish, the word “filia” means daughter in Italian, and if we play around with Greek words, it is related to love and such things. So it is kind of the pleasure and closeness that the parades create, it is a word that also is a deformation in Spanish, which makes it decipherable, and we liked it, we added a multi-colored star to harmonize with this topic and it ended up being very catchy, it sold really well with communication students, with Jalisco’s people, and with the specialized media.
RD: Is there anything related to the process of positioning Guadalajara as a fashion city?
HV: I believe so, and Expo Guadalajara has to do its part, not only in the business area, but also in the socially transcendent role that it plays for our city and state, even for our country. With the added effort of the Chambers, the design houses, and all the designers in the fashion world, well, we are creating a very important synergy to help in this positioning process that our city needs so badly, regarding the growth of fashion on a national level.
RD: Are there any other similar venues in the continent?
HV: No. I only visited one in Madrid, where Cibeles Fashion Week is celebrated at the IFEMA, but it caught my attention because it is a very big room that they only use twice a year for Cibeles’ Fashion Week. It seems underused to me – we paid a visit – but it isn’t as specialized as ours. We got great tips though, like an area that they call “the Room” where the designers, models, and special guests socialize and relax prior to an event. We only saw it there. Anyway, we thought it could be used more, as it is not convenient to make such an important investment (of around 20 million pesos) in a project for 2, 3, or 5 events per year. Instead, we are going to host 50 or 100 events per year, which will make it more affordable, because the assembly process for a parade can cost more than 300 thousand pesos; here, with 50 thousand pesos you can get the whole the room, even including basic lightning.
RD: Expo Guadalajara is what it is today due to a process of constant evolution, if we compare it to the Expo Guadalajara of 1987 – when it was inaugurated – they are a completely different things. What we see is the result of different stages that were consolidated along the way. Does the same case apply to Desfilia? Are there any projects to expand it and will more stages come into play later on?
HV: Of course, the evolution and renovation are part of the mystique of Expo Guadalajara, and Desfilia contributes to that as well. We consider that future fashion events will contribute for this performance room to be more mechanized, to have a better sound equipment, robotic lightning. It could be a more mechanical parade, for it to be easily moved and adapted. We would like to implement some robotics. This would be a second step that we could take and obviously we need to get the return of the investment so that the Committee can approve it, but we also think that Desfilia has to renew itself constantly, the colors, materials, even the bathrooms, the entrance, all of this cannot remain the same indefinitely, it has to propose new things. As you know, in this fashion world, we shouldn’t lose that will to surprise and we ourselves need to promote the innovation within.
RD: Don’t you think that its capacity is limited at the time?
HV: Yes, but in spite of that, according to what the experts told us, the point is to make these parades exclusive and not too large, because the designers themselves seek that exclusivity, that special invitation of only a certain number of people that belong to the fashion world and, depending on the assembly, we could fit up to 480 guests.
RD: Would the credit for the creation of Desfilia go to the Chambers that constitute the Fashion Council of Jalisco?
HV: Definitely, and I would especially like thank our four Chambers and Expo Guadalajara that believed in our success; I’m talking about the footwear, jewelry, furniture, and commerce Chambers. These four joined forces so that this project could be accomplished.
RD: Any names worth mentioning?
HV: The two main project leaders are Federico Díaz and Juan Alonso Niño, who had the idea from the beginning. Planning and obtaining the budget is a job that takes many meetings, proposals, and time to convince our Council to move forward. Expo Guadalajara has done 100% of the investment, they haven’t distributed the profit to reinvest it instead, and on this occasion they decided to invest in Desfilia.
This was how Horacio Vázquez and his team achieved their goal building a unique venue in the world.