Why should women get to wear all the pretty dresses? Why can’t men also flounce about in the feathers, lace or fine embroidery if they fancy? These are the questions being posed by the daring young Spanish label, Palomo Spain, whose flamboyant show kicked off the Paris men’s fashion week late Tuesday.
Designer Alejandro Gomez Palomo told AFP he wants nothing less than to “liberate” men from the straitjacket of convention.
The 25-year-old is one of a new wave of young designers for whom gender fluidity is not just a fashion statement but a way of being.
“Chanel liberated women (after World War I) by dressing them in male fabrics like tweed,” Palomo said. “And when Yves Saint Laurent put women in dinner jackets it was an absolute revolution.
“I am doing the opposite,” said the Andalusian-born creator, whose men show their legs, wear plunging necklines and silk suspenders and proudly sport transparent dresses embroidered with pearls and sequins.
“It all comes naturally to me,” said Palomo, whose look owes much to the over-the-top world of Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar.
The director’s muse Rossy de Palma has even walked the catwalk for Palomo, who struck gold in July when pop megastar Beyonce wore one of his spectacular flowery dresses to present her newborn twins to her 110 million Instagram followers.
Miley Cyrus also sported a Palomo Spain unisex white frilly silk basque in the video for her number one hit, “Malibu”.
– ‘Liberating’ men –
Palomo said his style is about personal “liberation”, and rejects all comparison with a gay or transvestite aesthetic often attributed to him.
“It is just a way of giving guys who might want to, the possibility to wear really sophisticated materials, and certain shapes and silhouettes that used to be associated with women’s wardrobes,” he told AFP before making his Paris debut.
“I am not the first and the only person to do this,” he said, citing Jean Paul Gaultier — who put men in skirts in the 1980s.
Palomo is, nevertheless, the most theatrical and extravagant of a growing wave of designers who are blowing away gender boundaries.
One of the highlights of London fashion week earlier this month was a raucous show by the Loverboy label in which men and women with made-up white faces and blonde wigs heckled the models and swigged wine.
Loverboy designer, kilt- and beret-wearing Scottish rebel Charles Jeffrey, finished his previous show with a man in a princess wedding gown after putting his male models in miniskirts and a woman in a striped business suit.
Like several other young London-based creators, he questions the relevance of gender at all, describing it as a “bit of an eye roll”.