Twenty-four hours before Alejandro Gómez Palomo’s Palomo Spain show, Nicola Formichetti—arguably one of the industry’s most clued-in, youth culture–glancing arbiters—told me, “You can’t miss it.”
Then, five minutes before the runway lights dimmed, the expectations compounded. Bryan Grey Yambao, my seatmate, leaned over and said, “This is so fashion,” referring to the crowd, which included singer Troye Sivan (wearing Palomo Spain’s pink velvet trousers), photographer Ryan McGinley, and model Hari Nef. (A “fashion” crowd isn’t usually the case at a New York menswear show.)
And as the first look walked out, a man to my right said out loud in pure exhilaration: “Gender! So last season!”
What would result lived up to and, in fact, beyond the hype—and it was a privilege to witness. Not a moment too soon, and somehow fitting for the final day of the menswear loop, Palomo sent out a lavish and over-the-top collection that, at its core, gave a bejeweled and feather-trimmed middle finger to the unaccepting and the regressive. How fabulously timely.
“It’s about the sexual self,” said the emotional designer backstage, cheeks streaked with lipstick smudges. “There are boys looking for other boys—seducing and being seduced. Some are virgins and you can only look at them.” Each of his models was male, but wearing clothes that might traditionally be categorized as female—though, in his book and increasingly so around the industry, clothes are clothes and can be worn by anyone.
Model Marc Sebastian Faiella opened the show, sauntering out in an electro-blue pseudo-blazer with the shoulders widely removed. Others would wear: a flamenco-inflected minidress with thigh-high laced boots; a tailored coatdress with queenly feather quill embroidery on the chest; and a possibly bridal look of white briefs, white corset, and white marabou-trimmed cape. McGinley’s boyfriend, Marc Domingo, sported what can only be classified as an Erdem-esque doll dress in flowery brocade.
At first glance, it might be easy to label Palomo’s clothes as couture-inspired costume—perhaps drag, or even post-drag, with a bit more design than dash. Yet however you see them, it’s tough to argue that they weren’t uplifting. More than one person remarked that he or she hadn’t left a show feeling so good in so long. Nef gushed to the designer: “That was the most amazing, beautiful, decadent, evilthing I’ve ever seen!” Palomo started his line for Spring 2015 after graduating from the London College of Fashion, but has remained, for the most part, under the radar. That has now changed, with a collection and a moment that put a glittering cherry atop New York Fashion Week: Men’s.
To view on Vogue Runway, click here.