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palomo spain naked campaign aw17
Palomo Spain AW17 campaignCourtesy of Palomo Spain

Palomo Spain are making wildly erotic, line-blurring fashion

The upcoming Dazed 100 designer Alejandro Gómez Palomo aims to change the way we view ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ clothing – see his latest imagery here

In 2015, Alejandro Gómez Palomo graduated from London College of Fashion and shortly after founded his label, Palomo Spain. Almost three years and three collections later – Orlando, Boy Walks In An Exotic Forest and Objeto Sexual, which debuted at NYFW Men’s in February 2017 – Palomo Spain is still picking up speed. The Spanish label is rooted in honouring traditional heritage – identifiable via opulent hand-painted fabrics, rich and potent colours, and a more-is-more attitude when it comes to embroidery and embellishment – all while vehemently subverting ideas of a repressive gendered society. “Aesthetically and sexually, I have never felt that there should be clear distinctions between ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’,” Palomo told me earlier this year.

For AW17, this remains true. Although, this season there’s something different about Palomo’s boy – is he more mature? Sexier? Or perhaps, conversely, he is even more tender. AW17’s Objeto Sexual features the boy we have come to know, but this time he has four faces or profiles, as Palomo puts it. In a sense, Palomo Spain’s boy has entered a new phase of beauty – not more nor less, simply different.

Palomo Spain creates clothing that is beautiful, erotic and desirable, but it is executed in a way that isn’t – it’s intentionally naïve, childish almost, and yet covetable. Palomo understands pleasure and he understands the allure of ambiguity; he creates fantasy by playing on fantasy. But reality is inescapable and he acknowledges that: “Fashion should give us options, it is the duty of regular people to make things change, to not be so close-minded and limited – like we have been in the past with definitions of ‘men’ or ‘women’”. Palomo Spain’s AW17’s collection and campaign, captured by friend of the brand Kito Muñoz in the designer’s Spanish hometown, examines this relationship under a red light and against the backdrop of soon-to-be blossoming green fields.

Kito Muñoz shot the AW17 campaign. How did you meet and what was it like working on the campaign together? 

Alejandro Gómez Palomo: Kito and I met around a year and a half ago, at my first show Orlando. Right after, we did the first campaign together while he was still part of the photographer duo Filip y Kito. Kito also shot the SS17 campaign; he created the perfect link between Boy Walks In An Exotic Forest and the latest collection. I could already see how the boys were changing, they had a more sexual attitude.

For the AW17 campaign, we really wanted to produce our best work to date and make it feel really personal. Kito and I understand each other’s state of mind perfectly. He is very good at listening to my ideas and anything I have on mind, even when I’m drunk he notes down what I say. When he presents me with an idea, I know it will be right.

Why was it important to shoot the campaign in your hometown? 

Alejandro Gómez Palomo: I love to work here. It’s where Palomo was born and grew. So, I feel I have created some universe that can only be properly seen here it’s where it all make sense. I cannot imagine creating without the light, and especially, without the energy my hometown has. And visually, too, light is very important for me. I said before how much Kito pays attention to what I say and he understands that light is very present in my work. It was something he really had put an emphasis and effort into creating and he’s done such a remarkable job: what you see in the photos is totally natural light and colour.

How has the brand evolved from when you first started it? 

Alejandro Gómez Palomo: When I started designing, fashion was such a confusing world for me. I wasn’t really sure of how this was going to happen, so I imagine that this could be a comparison to adolescence, a weird period of changes. As I began to feel more comfortable in fashion and in the world I was living in, the boy I created also started to feel more confident and be aware of his powerful energy. I like to see how the Palomo boy grows as the brand is developing and settling into the fashion world. I guess the boy is an evolution we will be seeing as the brand also grows.

Tell us about the concept of having four different boy profiles. Who are they?

Alejandro Gómez Palomo: For me, it was about trying to reflect four different attitudes towards sex and the way desire is created from them. First, there are the ‘boys’ that I imagine as dandies, walking out their house on a Friday night looking for other boys. The second role belongs to the boys that are waiting to be picked by this ‘dandy’ – more performative, dressed in more showy pieces and more overtly or obviously sexy. Then comes the role of ‘pimp’: the one that joins the previous two together. And finally the role of ‘virginity’. This represents the strongest desire you can have for something: that which is almost untouchable. It was fairly easy for us to create these four different worlds since, I feel, we have all felt one way or the other at some point in our lives. Or even, we feel all the four different roles inside us at the same time.

How does a collection come together? 

Alejandro Gómez Palomo: I always tend to go with an idea – a kind of feeling – and follow it until it develops and mirrors exactly what I had thought or felt at the very beginning. Details seem to change naturally. I design the pieces from what I desire, or from the dreams of someone I love or consider inspiring. Or I start by thinking of beautiful lines that will fit boys’ shapes. I’m rather obsessed with craft, and I have a good team that support me with that. We worked a lot using of feathers, dying or applying them one by one, or using embroidery – through which we push our limits more every season. In terms of shapes, I really want to keep exploring men’s traditional codes of dressing and distorting them completely, as well as mixing it with traditional womenswear cuts.

“I wanted to express sexual desire as something really pure and natural” – Alejandro Gómez Palomo

Objeto Sexual translates as ‘sexual object’. Why did you choose this as the title for your AW17 collection?

Alejandro Gómez Palomo: I wanted to create a sense of sexual desire for the clothes, as well as through the boys that presented it. My intent was for the viewer to feel the same or similar desire for the pieces as when they feel sexually attracted to a person. For me and in my life, the role of clothes has always been a way to express the feeling of a moment – sexuality in particular. In the collection, I played with the different approaches you could give to sexuality when you want to express a certain attitude towards sex.

How important is the show space in conveying your message? 

Alejandro Gómez Palomo: When we did the show in New York and Madrid, the set represented a brothel or a date house; but after Madrid, we realised we had gone as far as we could we that and we wanted the idea to look fresher and less dark. I wanted to express sexual desire as something really pure and natural. That’s why we wanted to show some really idyllic space and we were able to communicate the idea to perfection.

You said you wanted the collection to end in ecstasy, like an “aesthetic orgasm”. Can you explain this?

Alejandro Gómez Palomo: The idea of ecstasy was linked to the idea of virginity and in particular the way the show ended: with all boys in white wearing, as well as the most extreme pieces of the collection. It was my closest approach to couture with pieces that I really feel proud of having achieved. At the end of the show in New York, my boyfriend Pol walked out looking so magical and I could see that everyone felt that feeling of ecstasy – right at the end. Whereas, in the last campaign shot of the boys around the bed, it is more the idea of the sexual encounter before you get to the ecstasy.