This past weekend Spain lost one of its greatest fashion designers, David Delfín. The Malaga-born designer died at 46 from brain cancer, which he had suffered for the last year.
Delfín brought an artistic and rebellious perspective to Spanish fashion with collections that blurred the lines between performance art and fashion shows, revolutionizing an industry that lacked surprise and innovation.
He first rose to national recognition when he debuted his line at the 2002 Cibeles fashion week in Madrid. With it, too, came controversy, after Spanish media criticized his first collection because of his choice to put models in hoods and use orgasm sounds as background music. Spanish newspaper El País described the show as “the gravest incident in the history of Cibeles.”
Since then, Delfín took the Spanish fashion industry by storm with the help of his friends, model Bimba Bosé, who died last year, and Gorka, an architect and Delfín’s ex-boyfriend. The group became an eponymous trio in Spain, growing his line Davidelfin to become a favorite of actresses like Penélope Cruz and grace the runways at New York fashion week.
His New York debut came in 2009, when the brand was represented by PR agency People’s Revolution, with a collection titled “Revelations,” in which the designer used photos of his most intimate circle as a backdrop and a color palette that only included grey, white, black and maroon.
The designer also ventured into costume design for the film I’m So Excited! by Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. Delfín also worked on a project for Coca-Cola in Spain reworking the classic Coke bottle, alongside eight other Spanish designers.
Delfín’s international success was a trailblazing act for the Spanish industry, which, at the time of Delfín’s debut in Madrid, was suffering from the growth of fast-fashion giants like Zara. Not only was fast-fashion threatening the financial security of independent designers, but it was also pushing them to align with their aesthetics, limiting their creative boundaries. But Delfín understood that to make real fashion he had to distance himself from the crowd and use the needle as a mechanism of self-expression.