Fashion

Palomo Spain Spring 2022 Menswear Collection

Live from Paseo del Prado park in the heart of Madrid, Alejandro Gómez Palomo put the irrepressible desire for a new, colorful, exuberantly sexy glamour on the map with a flourish of Spanish pride. “We need heat, human heat, after all this time being locked up,” he said. “I wanted to do this here, under the trees, now that the energy of Madrid is coming back to life. It’s my dream show come true.”

This was the fifth anniversary of Palomo Spain, the all-embracing nonbinary brand through which Palomo has reveled in projecting high Spanish culture to the world—queering the aesthetics of sweeping 17th-century capes and dresses, matador and flamenco themes, corsetry, antique textiles, and embroidery. At one time, it may have seemed that Palomo Spain’s appeal might be limited to dressing for underground club nights. Not now.

Madrid had thrown the designer a full public celebration in a spectacular location, supported by the capital’s tourist board. Passersby spectated from the sidewalks as the Municipal Symphonic Band of Madrid performed a specially composed jazzy showtime arrangement of Palomo Spain’s favorite tunes, led by pianist Dolores Gaitán. Then along the avenue of trees walked a collection that showed how far Palomo has come.

It hit the sensational avant-garde high points of erotic body-reveal in one-shoulder tops, wrapped bandage bodices, corsets, boned-waist cinchers, and chest-revealing plunging necklines, flipping the trend that’s swept womenswear wholly in the Palomo Spain direction. Worn with his “undone” matador pants, the high waists unbuttoned and folded over, that effect was, well, incendiary.

But Palomo Spain’s tailoring also argued for daywear in elegant and drapey three-piece suits with wide-leg, pleated trousers. One was in a sophisticated gray. Others in vibrant yellow-green or blue-green tile prints swept past. A different cut—this one in the label’s ’70s-flared signature—turned up in white, completely owned by the lusciously dark-haired flamenco star Israel Fernández.

There was also a lot of zigzag and checkerboard knitwear, with or without matching skinny scarves. The reasoning behind them—and for all the prints and patterns, in fact—was Palomo’s love letter to the history of his hometown, Cordoba. “You see there a mix of Arabic, Jewish, and Christian cultures, even in the architecture,” he said. Echoes of the spectacular striped geometry of the soaring part-Moorish, part-Catholic Renaissance Mezquita-Cathedral played out, very chicly in the combo of an oversized cream herringbone coat, with a blue and white frill-front shirt.

There were plenty of moments for what Palomo called his “drama” to sweep along: a scarlet taffeta cardinal’s coat, a full-length garment that might have been an antique priest’s vestment, but then again wasn’t. He identified these pieces as caftans, not dresses, another nod to the high point of learning and culture that thrived in the Islamic period of Cordoba’s past.

Then again, who’s counting? One measure of the success and widespread influence of Palomo and the likes of his young, queer menswear peers such as Charles Jeffrey, Matty Bovan, Jonathan Anderson, and Ludovic de Saint Sernin is that clothes are clothes—and we’ve gone quite beyond fussing over assigning gender to them. In a collection as characterful and various as the one that Palomo sent out in the park in Madrid, everyone could see how gloriously beautiful this new world can look.

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