It’s been five years since the Spaniard Alejandro Gomez Palomo stepped into the fashion fray to offer his take on what people, queer men especially, can be. Gender fluidity wasn’t quite the talking point it is today, and it was with historical flourishes, Spanish references, and “feminine” touches that Palomo undermined stereotypes about masculinity. So successfully has Palomo explored the “soft” side of man that his decision to focus on tailoring and to consider different kinds of corporate dress in his latest collection caught some people off guard. “They were surprised by me doing something that’s much sharper and aggressive,” he reported.
Palomo wants to explore the whole spectrum of masculinity, not just the part that has long been underserved. His latest collection was partly influenced by stories of 1980s excess like The Wolf of Wall Street and American Psycho. The latter’s main character, Patrick Bateman, said Palomo, is “this guy that goes to office, but he’s got such an unknown reality behind him. Of course [what I was imagining wasn’t a murder, it was much more sexual.”
It was also supremely sartorial. Few garments are as loaded with symbolism as a man’s suit. In fact, many innovative designs are reactions to the suit, which remains a shadow presence and motivator in menswear. “I already reacted [against the suit] in the beginning of my career,” Palomo stated. “Now that we’ve gone all the way to the more feminine side of the man, I like to take the suit and take the tailoring and really revisit it and see it with my eyes. And also with age, I see myself dressing a lot in suits and enjoying them a lot.”
Not unsurprisingly, Palomo has imbued his suiting with a touch of romance. The opening look is a blue jacket with extended shoulders that support draped sleeves that have some of the softness of wings. Later on, a similar T-shaped structure is applied to pants that jut out at the waist, the erogenous zone of this collection. Cropped tops call attention to it, as does a beautifully mitred pinstriped corset, and pannier-like overpieces that seem to nod to Diego Velázquez’s painting Las Meninas.
There are also mini-shorts and, most topically, miniskirts. “It’s a trendy thing, miniskirts, since the Miu Miu thing. It’s like men should have miniskirts for sure, even though we’ve been doing little skirts for men for a while now, but it was very much on time,” the designer noted.
The collection progressed from day to night, office to club, with a deliberate crescendo of psychedelia which was inspired by Palomo reading that Silicon Valley executives microdose to promote visionary thinking. “I really adore this idea of the executive man, of some really posh businessman, on a trip,” Palomo said. There are options for corporate cowboys and marabou “fur” coats with a lot of swagger. For those, the reference was “the empowerment of the woman in the ’80s [to] the power that men have always had, and now we try to call it the queer empowerment.”
When we spoke, Palomo had just come from giving a talk in a museum. Backstage he had met an enthusiastic fan, age nine, who was inspired to pursue to design himself. “He probably has a window to look through thanks to what we do,” he said straightforwardly. Palomo Spain might be described as a generously disruptive brand, one that’s opening windows—and minds—to freedom and possibility.