Discover

Uniform renewal.

In January 2011 the Civil Guard of Spain, commonly known as Guardia Civil or La Benemérita (The Meritorious), renewed its uniform, unchanged since 1986. The military association inherent to their old attire was replaced by a police force aesthetic: polo shirts and cargo pants substituted button-up shirts and pleated trousers. The color of the uniform changed too: a dark shade of green replaced the former mossy color.


The most important modification, however, was the replacement of the tricornio, a three-cornered hat made of black patent leather, in the heritage of the ones worn by Spanish soldiers during the 17th century. The substitution surprised everyone; the tricornio was the quintessential symbol of the Civil Guards. Imagine supplanting the cowboy hat with a baseball cap—no small step for a military institution.


Tidiness and cleanliness were attributes emphasized in La Benemérita’s uniform code since the foundation of the institution back in 1844. The police force was created to repress revolutionary sentiment in the rural areas of Spain and to stop the spread of anti-monarchism during the reign of Queen Isabella II. Those days were not easy for the nation; political conspiracies, coups d’état, and economic recession were constant features. The population suffered continuously and made public its discontent. The founder of the gendarmerie, the aristocrat Don Francisco Javier Girón y Ezpeleta, Duque de Ahumada, believed that it was important to create a police force that the Spanish population would respect on first sight. The value of the aesthetic was given the highest importance and was carefully managed.


The elegance and uniformity of the attire was praised and valued. Blue was chosen as the main color (replaced by green in the reform of 1943) and the tricornio as the element of uniformity (Don Ramón María de Narváez y Campos, Duque de Valencia and prime minister at the time, chose the three-cornered hat used by the Spanish cavalry for the new police force headwear. The Duque de Ahumada didn’t agree with the idea, however; he favored the notion of borrowing the morrión, a steel helmet used by the Tercios, the famous and feared Spanish infantry formation of the XVI century. The Queen Isabella II had the last word; she backed the prime minister’s opinion, and the three-cornered hat was appointed official Guardia Civil headwear.)

The Guardia Civil was a tool for repression and civil order. Their constant excesses and lack of responsibility for their actions made them extremely unpopular. They were feared, and so was their uniform. The poet Federico García Lorca portrayed the brutality of the Guardia Civil in some of his poems. Furthermore, nothing signified repression better than their tricornio, and even to this day there are popular jokes that relate the “magical” power of the hat, that it transfers violence to the wearer. And that’s what we Spaniards have in mind when we see a tricornio. You fear past faults even if you haven’t had any!


An attempted coup d'état in Spain that began on 23 February 1981 by The Guardia Civil.


But those days are gone. Or that’s what we read from this story. You have to change with the times. The Guardia Civil has evolved (it was the first European police force to admit a same-sex couple in a military installation), and so has its uniform.

The tricornio, however, won’t disappear just yet. Its use will be reserved for ceremonies and parades, and the gorra teresiana, the everyday beret and heritage of Luis Roldán, the first civilian to be entitled Directorate-General of the Police and the Civil Guard (and one of the reasons why the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party lost the elections to the conservative People’s Party in 1996 after 14 years in the government … but that’s another hell of a story) will be replaced by a “more comfortable and modern” baseball cap. Think of it: the inherent attributes of authority, power, and law are put aside to bring in airs of casualness and practicality.

Gorra teresiana


Recent Posts

CULTURESPORT.TV | Interview: John Michael Boling

    Anastasia Davydova interviews John Michael Boling  CULTURESPORT is a lot of things: an animated series, creative studio and meta-brand created entirely in the open-source 3D software Blender by veteran Net artist John Michael Boling – former Associate Director of Rhizome, co-founder of NASTY NETS internet surfing club, and co-founder of Are.na, a platform for creative research. I started to hear a lot about JMB from Asher Penn, who interviewed him for Sex Magazine… [read more »]

A Conversation about Ergonomic Futures

Lafayette Anticipation associate curator Anna Colin talks to artist Tyler Coburn about Ergonomic Futures, a speculative project engaged with art, design, science, anthropology and writing. In this interview, Coburn discusses the research, production process and network of collaborators of a multilayered project ultimately concerned with the futures of humankind. Anna Colin: When one comes across your museum seats Ergonomic Futures (2016—) in contemporary art exhibitions—and soon in natural history, fine art, and anthropology museums—they look… [read more »]

nils lange + saliva : l’eau des algues

L’Eau des Algues Two alchemists already aware of each other’s Instagrams meet for the first time in a gay sauna. They are swimming; it’s the Hood By Air afterparty in Paris. They are Lukas Hofmann and Nils Amadeus Lange. Months later, they meet again. They are on the edge of yet another steaming pool; it’s the Manifesta Biennale closing event at Cabaret Voltaire. They are performing the perfume titled “L’eau des Algues.” Head notes: Zürich… [read more »]

Toward a Low Key Voting System Where Votes Are Actually Considered | Adrian Massey

While reading A Very Short Introduction to Game Theory, I came across the following passage, “If you want people to vote, we need to move to a more decentralized system in which every vote really does count enough to outweigh the lack of enthusiasm for voting which so many people obviously feel…Simply repeating the slogan that ‘every vote counts’ isn’t ever going to work, because it isn’t true.” I was jarred. For me, anecdotally knowing… [read more »]

Tough Luck | Tyler Reinhard

When life is being super unfair, just do what we all do: suffer the consequences. I wake up and the first thing I do is check my phone. A convenient euphemism for using Facebook’s machine learning techniques to discover which 300 entries are statistically most likely to stand out from the tens of thousands of brain dumps my friends and family have produced over the last 48 hours. Impressed by what Facebook provides, I think… [read more »]

America Is Hard to See: A Guide to not being depressed about US electoral politics this November

In order to make sense of state politics in the birthplace of statistical marketing and the internet, one has to be wary of the effects of these technologies on the country’s popular media. In a time when our news and advertisements are tailored to our pre-recorded political opinions, it can be especially difficult to empathize with differing political views. Likewise, learning about the histories of state politics is not encouraged by platforms that profit from… [read more »]

On self-care and the election | Eva Saelens

We can get together and laugh about it. We can heave sighs and express disbelief, but it’s never enough. This presidential election year has lasted for years, and they sit on citizens like a slick film. We feel touched by an unshakable germ, invaded by a blood-sucker, afflicted by a social cancer, drained of the plump vitality of life and the amazing liberty of choices, and transformed into a cynical, depressed shrivel. After being touched… [read more »]

Swarovski Crystal Meth at National Sawdust

Swarovski Crystal Meth, a collaboration between Ser Serpas, Daniela Czenstochowski and Gia Garrison for the National Sawdust “Selkie Series” performances, curated by Alexandra Marzella. Music composed and produced by Daniela Czenstochowski Poem by Sera Serpas Sound Edit Mateo Majluf Vocals Sera Serpas, Gia Garrison and Daniela Czenstochowski All Images Olimpia Dior i went to the desert con mi mama outlet store shopping is fried onto mi conciensa, big bags, wins bigger losses fragmented lux economy… [read more »]

Hasbeens and Willbees Auction @ Romeo Gallery

Shop items from the most recent Hasbeens and Willbees luxury auction now! Featuring Bjarne Melgaard, Bror August, Women’s History Museum, Lou Dallas, Hermes, Gautier, and more. All photography Dillon Sachs Styling Avena Gallagher Hosted by Rome Gallery NYC

NHU DUONG SS17 WORK COLLECTION FT. KARL HOLMQVIST

What is a piece of clothing that “works”? Who is working whom? Is the one who poses the one who actually “works” hardest? The S/S 2017 collection of Berlin-based, Swedish- Vietnamese designer NHU DUONG entitled ‘WORK COLLECTION’ plays with the ideas of professionalism, leisure and appropriateness through a range of garments that are inspired by work outfits and hobby uniforms. Overalls, raw denim outfits, kung-fu pyjamas, biker pants, baggy tights and gloves, bomber-jackets, bomber suits,… [read more »]