Outsider’s Division, Andres Zurru, and Adam Kost sent collections inspired by Berghain, boarding school, and The Emperor’s New Clothes down the runway at the Spanish capital’s SS19 Fashion Week
Though Madrid’s fashion scene is as vibrant and diverse as the Spanish capital itself, the city has found itself somewhat overlooked when it comes to getting the recognition it deserves – likely owing to the fact it has always clashed with London Fashion Week.
This year, though, that’s all set to change, as MFW switches September for July to showcase exactly what the city has to offer. Alejandro Gomèz Palomo invited guests to his wildly fantastical Wunderkammer show at the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, where he delved into the museum’s cabinets of curiosities for inspiration, and presented each attendee with a drop of his own blood encased in a glass slide to start their own collection. Maria Ke Fisherman presented its SS19 collection in the unfinished foundations of a new tower block on the outskirts of the city, where models wearing subversive futuristic knits and a unique take on the ubiquitous ugly sneaker stormed down a catwalk constructed on the panels that extend lorries. And designer Ana Locking threw a NYC-style ballroom party, where a troupe of Vogueing dancers showcased her glamorously avant-garde collection, and tried to out-sass each other with their figure-8s, spin and dips, and death drops on the runway.
Also on the line-up was a day of shows dedicated entirely to emerging designers, as young brands were selected to participate in the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talent initiative – the winners of which will show at Prague Fashion Week later this year. Offered mentorship and access to number of unique Samsung technologies, ten labels presented collections that ranged from simple, minimalistic tunics featuring light strips that reacted to alerts on your phone (as imagined by Constanza+Lab), to Zap Buj’s silicone ‘skins’ which seemingly grew biologically from the body, and became more elaborate and dramatic as the show went on.
For us, though, it was the menswear that really stood out, as the city continues to assert itself as one to watch in that area – while Palomo Spain might be leading the charge, there’s plenty more talent following in his footsteps. Here, we round up the labels that should be on your radar.
Founded in 2012, fashion and art collective Outsider’s Division is made up of David Mendez Alonso, Alberto Perancho and Ales Gallifa – a group of designers based across Spain who draw inspiration from everything from cult films and the Spanish graffiti scene, to the punk movement of 1970s London and the simple concept of joy. For SS19 they presented a totally unique manifesto on how to dress for special occasions, with an eclectic collection of oversized tailored suits, mis-matched separates, and offbeat finishing touches including flower-embellished bucket hats, logo-emblazoned mini bags, and chunky sneakers that looked like they’d been cross-bred with clown shoes.
Following on from last season’s offering, Chico Sensible (which translates into English as ‘sensitive boy’), the designers are intent on encouraging the people that wear their clothing to express their feelings, with the show notes telling the audience to ‘be yourself, you are okay’. “With Chico Sensible, we really wanted to put across the message that it’s okay to be sensitive and wear your heart on your sleeve. It’s cool when a boy can be open with his emotions, it’s natural and real, and that’s how it should be,” explained Gallifa post-show. The sentiment – and the brand’s brilliantly oddball collection – obviously struck a chord the initiative’s jury, who awarded the label its prize for 2018. A definite one to watch when they hit the runway in Prague in September.
Counting Casey Spooner of Fischerspooner among his fans, Andres Zurru described himself as shy backstage, shortly before his show started – but his collection was anything but. Entitled BERGHAIN – David Never Wore a Leaf, the designer looked to the legendary Berlin club for inspiration, with a series of avant-garde, provocative looks making up his SS19 collection. The Spanish designer is well-known for his upcycling methods, meaning salvaged tweeds sat alongside suede and leather jackets, bustiers and some pretty heavy-duty thigh-high, lace-up boots – though how practical they’d be if you were actually to wear them to Berghain we’re not entirely sure.
The overtly sexual nature of his collection was balanced with Victorian references in the form of nipped-in jackets and waistcoats, and layered strings of pearls, and was at times childlike in its proportions. “I was thinking about Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ when I was making the collection, about vulnerability and what we put on show, and what we conceal,” he explained post-show. “In the story, the Emperor realises what’s happened, and that he’s actually naked, but he continues on his parade with courage in the face of judgement – it’s something I think we could all learn from.”
Where the other labels showing as part of Mercedes-Benz’s initiative were loud and avant-garde, Adam Kost’s collection was a lesson in restraint. Having won the contest in his native Prague, the designer was given the opportunity to show in Madrid, and chose to with an offering entitled Fulste una vez, como somos ahora (‘you used to be the way we are now’).
Drawing inspiration from English boarding schools for SS19, an army of boys stormed down the runway with their faces covered by scarves, all wearing a series of subversively tailored styles: suit jackets were cinched at the waist with leather belts, and were paired with slim shorts that stopped at the knee. Others wore distressed and shredded takes on school jumpers. It was, explained Kost, an exploration of the dichotomy between discipline and freedom, and a study on brotherhood, friendship, and community.