(L to R): Amai Rodríguez, José Miró, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada.

Madrid Fashion Week may not bask in the same global media coverage as the runways of Paris, Milan, New York and London, which is strange considering that Spain’s greatest design platform has all the essential elements – innovation, style, professionalism, elegance, excitement and cutting-edge chic – and in spades. Certainly, the September edition of Cibeles had plenty to celebrate because with its history spanning a quarter of a century, not only was it the 50th Show, but its climax was a tribute to legendary couturier Elio Berhanyer, still presenting his glamorous collections at the age of 80.

(L to R): Davidelfín, Bohento, Juanjo Oliva.

The Show kicked-off on the El Ego retail floor where ten up-and-coming young designers presented their creations. Amai Rodríguez’s extravagant collection – inspired by decadent partying and nights out on the town – won her the coveted first prize, while other worthy contenders included an ultra feminine, lingerie-look by Alberto Tous; the abstract geometrical cut and sober colour palette of Bohento’s Rorschach Test collection; and the audaciously baroque lines from Carlos Doblas, the talented 21-year-old sevillano apprenticed to fellow Andalusian designer David Delfín.

(L to R): Victorio & Lucchino, José Miró.

With her trademark irreverence and innate sense of colour and fun, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada’s collection was a retrospective of her 28 years in the fashion industry. Balloon skirts, ruffles, flounces, hearts and quirky caterpillar trains dominated her runway, while at the opposite end of the design spectrum, the Hannibal Laguna show was the epitome of elegant sophistication with plunging necklines and cinched waists in intensely coloured satins and taffetas.

Featuring silk and cotton, José Miró´s New York, New York collection sublimely fused European lines with the atmosphere of the Big Apple where, coincidentally, just one week ahead of Cibeles, David Delfín had unveiled his Playback collection. Breaking with his signature monochrome tones, the Ronda-born designer instead opted for petrol blue, navy and various shades of green inspired by Le Corbusier’s Polychromie architectural palette.

(L to R): Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Alberto Tous.

Also just back from debuting his latest collection on the catwalk of the US of A’s most famous fashion show, it’s no surprise that Juanjo Oliva’s stunning designs – somewhere between pret-à-porter and haute couture – are also going down a storm on both sides of the Atlantic… and not only because of the pure perfection of their inspired lines. In something of a major departure for Oliva, his next season’s fabrics feature fabulous handcrafted African prints meaning that no two 10- or 12-metre lengths of cotton are ever identical.

(L to R): Amai Rodríguez, Juanjo Oliva, Hannibal Laguna.

And then of course there was the Victorio & Lucchino runway. Andalucía’s most famous design duo – Victorio is from Córdoba and his partner Lucchino from Sevilla – delighted the audience with their appropriately named Alquimia (Alchemy) collection where architecture and geometry exist side by side with romanticism, giving rise to new shapes. White, grey, blue and black contrasted with the intensity of geranium and lime, with satin, crepe, poplin and satinised cotton their fabrics of choice.

Cibeles pays homage to Elio Berhanyer.

Still, on this occasion it was Elio Berhanyer who stole the show. Born in Córdoba in 1929 and having dressed Queen Sofía of Spain and Hollywood legends Ava Gardner and Cyd Charisse back in the 70s, no one has been more instrumental in putting Spanish haute couture firmly on the world map. Visibly moved by the standing ovation, the veteran designer announced he had no plans to retire. “Fashion is my life. I’ll die with my boots on,” he said.