Destinations | Perfect Weekend

Stuart Vevers’ Madrid

British-born Stuart Vevers became the creative director of Spanish leather and fashion house Loewe in 2007 after stints at Bottega Veneta, Givenchy and Mulberry.

March 13 2011
Avril Groom

Traditionally in Madrid, work ends at lunchtime on Friday but as an international company we work on, and I enjoy being able to catch up and sketch in my studio, with no meetings. Eventually, I leave for drinks with friends, often nearby at Alkalde, an old-established but chic tapas bar – the kind of atmosphere I prefer. Madrid is a very social city; it’s small for a capital and everyone entertains out rather than at home. The people I work with are like family; some of them drift into the bar over a long evening, and we sit outside and chat.

At around 2am or 3am we go to one of my favourite clubs – Elástico or Charada, which are both quite edgy. There is a big contrast here between smart bourgeois places and a vibrant youth culture. The cultural revolution of the late 1970s was based on the nightlife in areas such as Malasaña, where bars are still buzzy until very late. Going home in the daylight at 6am or 7am is normal.

Saturday mornings are very quiet. If I’m not working, I like to get up around lunchtime and go shopping, which is my favourite way to spend the day. I like to check out the Loewe flagship on the Gran Via, which is 1939 vintage and very beautiful with chandeliers and sofas. I’ll check the sales figures and get the views of staff and customers; I now speak enough Spanish to do that, though I still have two lessons a week. Nearby is La Metralleta, a great record shop where I buy obscure 1980s vinyl – I occasionally DJ at friends’ parties. I also love Gallery, which has books, magazines and wine as well as menswear. I like to see how other stores buy for Spanish men: our own menswear line is quite international, especially the accessories, but I like it to have distinctive Spanish references, and I think that, as a foreigner, I’m less afraid of seeing those as clichéd.

I’ll have a late lunch at a typical tapas café in the Plaza Santa Ana, such as Cervecería Alemana, and then browse the retro glasses (sun and optical; I collect both) at Optica Toscana, housed in a 19th-century seed warehouse. Later I’ll meet friends and, with a bit of luck, we’ll have reserved a table at my favourite restaurant in La Latina area, Casa Lucio, which is very old-school. Its signature dish is huevos estrellados – special eggs and chips, with wonderful ham and oil and tomato salad – or I love the steak that you cook yourself on a ceramic hotplate. Then we go on to Bar Cock, which is not actually at all risqué, with ornate dark-wood panelling and waiters in white aprons. It attracts a cool, eclectic crowd, and the tall windows are open all summer and spring. Or we go to Museo Chicote, which used to be a haunt of Hemingway and Ava Gardner, who was an inspiration for my last autumn collection.

Sunday is one of the three or four days a week that I like to run, and I set off early to Retiro park, the biggest green area in the city. After that I’ll browse El Rastro flea market and its antiques shops. I’ve recently moved flats and I’m always looking for late-20th-century or Victorian stuff. I like that bold, heavy, ornate look in a clean, modern environment. Then I’ll head to a museum, maybe the contemporary CaixaForum, designed by Herzog and de Meuron in an old power station, or the Museo Reina Sofía. It has a small collection of Picassos, including Guernica, and it inspired me to see Paloma Picasso as a muse.

I lunch late on upscale tapas and people-watch on the elegant terrace of the Ritz, where in summer there’s an outdoor pianist. Close by is the Real Jardín Botánico; apart from being a beautiful place to wander and relax, it’s where I buy plants – mostly dry-climate species such as cacti. Then I’ll walk home via the local food market in the Plaza San Miguel and pick up some supper for a quiet night in.

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