Most designers would be content with opening two successful stores in Madrid, showing at New York Fashion Week and being lauded by the global fashion press. Not David Delfin. The Spanish designer likes to keep his fingers in many pies; as well as designing several collections of menswear and womenswear that are being feted far beyond his home country, he has also worked in graphic design, video art, photography and architecture. ‘We've always had multidisciplinary interests, though the project has developed and changed over time’, explains Delfin – the ‘we’ referring to his partners, the multitalented Postigo brothers and model Bimba Bosé. Several years ago, they created the brand Davidelfin. That, says Delfin, was ‘only the beginning’. Today, they are involved in a whole range of projects. ‘For example, the guy responsible for the audiovisual aspects is now running his own project. The ones who made music for our fashion shows are now the Cabriolets, about to publish their second album. Our own needs have built this project and have eventually led to other ones that are very well connected.’
Delfin has pursued numerous creative endeavours; for example, he designed the cover of Miguel Bose’s album Papito, 2007’s best-selling record in Spain. However, his bread and butter is fashion. The 39-year-old, whose real name is Diego David Domínguez González, has launched several hugely successful collections; this season will be his third showing at New York Fashion Week. He is currently the hottest name in Spanish fashion design. It could have been very different, however. In 2002, Delfin made headlines for all the wrong reasons, when he unveiled his very first collection at Madrid Fashion Week. After Delfin used a series of controversial props in his show, some media commentators derided him as insensitive and sexist. To many, it seemed that his talent would be overshadowed by the incident, while others claimed he used the media outrage to make a name for himself. He disputes both suggestions. ‘That initial controversy didn’t mean anything,’ Delfin argues. ‘Who could be interested in getting to be known that way? I was called sexist, to say the least.’ What, then, led him to where he is today? ‘What really helped me was perseverance and work. If I hadn’t kept working, I would be completely forgotten by now, or, worse, remembered as the freak who once appeared in Madrid Fashion Week.’ Far from it. Last year, Delfin became the second Spanish designer to appear in New York Fashion Week, the other being Custo Barcelona. Then, of course, there are all the side projects, which include design work for PlayStation, Ford and a number of jewellery, glasses and stationery brands. More interesting, perhaps, is his growing body of audio-visual work; he has directed a handful of short films and has worked as art director on several shoots for Spanish band the Cabriolets. He’s also done a mini collection for Converse and managed costume design for Teatro Español’s production of Hamlet.
All of this places Delfin firmly at the heart of Madrid’s arts and culture scene. It’s no surprise, then, to hear that cinema is the main inspiration for a designer who moved from his hometown in Andalucía to Madrid with the dream of becoming an actor. ‘Cinema is always there as an inspiration. I had one collection called Opening Night, like John Cassavetes’ film, and another based on expressionist movies. We created music inspired by certain scenes of David Lynch, and I once used the main theme of Jaws to start one of my shows.’
Inspiration is a word that Delfin cites continually. He considers it essential for a designer, more so than lessons and formulas. ‘Everyone needs to be encouraged with projects that stimulate the muscle of creativity,’ he eloquently explains. He puts his money where his mouth is by teaching at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED). ‘While teaching there I discovered that none of the students had a reading habit. It was weird, since that’s a good exercise for the imagination. So we started reading short stories for half an hour every day.’
Delfin no average designer; he is a highly talented and multifaceted creative force. What’s next in the pipeline? Among other projects, a collection called Backstage, which will show in Madrid and New York. ‘We’re using yellow and black colours as a warning of danger. But I decided to use a strong pink too, just because I felt like it. I defend the right to feel seduced by something for a moment, like the impact of a colour, and go ahead and use it. I don’t need an explanation for everything.’ Does Delfin see himself working in fashion for the long haul? ‘Yes, I think so,’ he replies hesitantly. And then, suddenly, he cracks a smile. ‘Please, delete “I think so”. Yes, definitely!’