Palomo Spain invokes ecstasy and religion
"I'm back for good," announced designer Alejandro Gómez Palomo when he returned to the Parisian runways. And such has been the case, although a wind of change is blowing at his brand. Formerly accustomed to showing on the first day of Fashion Week, largely dedicated to emerging talents, Palomo Spain has now moved to join the more established names, hosting a runway show on the morning of the event's last day, Sunday, 19th January.
On his road to maturity in Paris, the Cordobés designer has swapped the rococo stylings of the Spanish Embassy, where valuable Goya paintings witnessed his show last summer, for an empty warehouse in Paris' Belleville neighbourhood. The space seemed like a good fit for "Ecstasy," his collection for Fall/Winter 2020-21, which fused the dramatic Mannerism of El Greco with the raves of the "Ruta del Bakalao," the Spanish techno club movement which shook up Valencia in the 80s and 90s. As such, there were plenty of winks to the narcotics that characterised the late 20th-century party movement, both in the collection's fluorescent psychedelic prints and in the little bags of MDMA-lookalike candy handed out to the show's guests.
With the electronic music of 90s dance artist Chimo Bayo in the background, out came a range of looks inspired by a journey that Palomo had made to Toledo, home of El Greco's work. Opening the show were some discreet tailored looks in black, which were followed by some outerwear pieces demonstrating tremendous pattern work and featuring pointed shoulders and cardinal collars. The silhouettes were slim and elongated, like the figures in the works of the Greek painter, and were characterised by the extreme style with which the brand has made its name. Details in black and white Chantilly lace, shirts with ruffles, frills, sensual transparencies, velvet jackets and aristocratically cut gaberdines were all brought together with a more urban style. It's an unprecedented experiment for Palomo Spain, and one that will no doubt expand its commercial reach.
Classic tailoring was mixed in an unexpectedly natural manner with bombers, jackets with cut-outs at the shoulders, cargo pants with reflective details and oversized coats. Colourful prints by artist Sébastien Sans-Arcidet appeared on parkas and silk shirts, while fans made of feathers and fine wood were provided by Kausi, and the footwear offering was developed in collaboration with New Rock Shoes, leading to some particularly interesting Western-inspired knee-high boots with openings. Not to mention the three brocade looks with feminine silhouettes and crystal embellishments, which were the result of a recent collaboration with Swarovski.
An extra dimension was added by the omnipresent religious references. From the moment the guests arrived at the show, they were struck by a strong smell of incense, while the designer's childhood in Andalusia, where Holy Week is equal parts emotion and pop culture, served as the collection's running theme. Beneath the attentive gaze of French singer-songwriter Christine and the Queens, Spanish rapper C.Tangana, American drag queen and burlesque artist Violet Chachki, and Raquel Sánchez Silva, the presenter of Spain's "Maestros de la Costura", on which Palomo is also a judge, the show became an electronic Passion of the Christ. It was effectively a reinterpretation of the Way of the Cross, complete with incense burners and scarlet candles, which led its audience towards ecstasy to the solemn rhythm of a Holy Week parade.
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