Monday, January 25, 2016

BEAUTY: Clothing--Thom Browne

A Thom Browne show is always something amazing to see. His last few collection have become more and more ominous with a possible hint of the macabre, models walking the space slowly in some kind of spooky nightmarish ritual. The funereal pace continued (Browne's FW '15-16 show seen here was a literal funeral!) for this FW '16-'17 show which began with two black-lipped models looking for all the world like an Edward Gorey (previously here) drawing walking the stage, drawing down diaphanous white sheets from enormous upright picture frames and from a massive chandelier. Once the dust covers were removed and the stage eerily lit, like a room from The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, the show proper began.

Browne said we were witness to 13 members (an "unlucky" number...) of a 1920s gentlemen’s club who return there after the Depression to reflect on their past. Hence the dust covers. Models wore bowlers hats not on their heads but on their faces, giving a frightening, menacing, anonymous spectral appearance. But a show that, on the surface seemed ghostly, unexpectedly turned poignant and touching. Each look came out in three different forms: 1) a Depression-ravaged, dusty, threadbare version, 2) a slightly worn version, and 3) a pristine, crisp, new version, which taken together, represented a journey back in time for these men, a journey back to before the Depression, when things were younger, cleaner, newer. Each of these three doppelgängers took their place at a picture frame, the two older, ragged versions on one side, the memory of fresh youth on the other, as though all three were contemplating themselves in a mirror, past and future facing off. And when one contemplates the ramifications of that action, we should all understand that we can look in the mirror of our own lives, look back and see what we once were, where we came from. And the longer one lives, the more doppelgängers there will be. So certainly on the surface, but also in a deeper way, the show was about ghosts, just in a gentler, less literal way. We leave behind us the ghosts of who we once were. It is a function of time.

The pieces themselves were classic Thom Browne with traditional men's suiting techniques and a truly artisanal dedication to detail. Absent was the skirt/apron he has championed for many seasons, but present was his trademark shorter trouser...and a whimsical dachshund symbol woven into coats. The doggie also showed up in the form of a sweet furry carry bag, looking like a plush toy version of a doctor bag. In the spirit of the Izod alligator, Browne's dachshund joins his tortoise and cute spouting whale from past collections

In the photos below, I have teamed up only the first (most ragged) and third (newest) incarnations of each look for contrast. While the logical choice for consumers would be the new version of each garment, I can't help but think that the worn pieces have more desirability in terms of character, story, interest..."There’s beauty in the perfection, and there’s beauty in the imperfection," Browne said after the show.

Look at the incredible pearled detailing on these jackets and hats...

Browne is slow to upload videos of his shows, but as soon as the video of this show is available, I will post it here. Stay tuned...
Meanwhile, here is a minute and a half of edited footage from A Shaded View's Diane Pernet:

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