Thom Browne: from gnomes to Endicott
Got to hand it to Thom Browne, he never runs out of news ways of using the gray flannel suit – the heart of his WASP DNA.
This season on a sunny Saturday in Paris, he turned his preppy gents into garden gnomes, replete with faux gray beards, pointy conical hats and hefty little boy pants with shoulder straps. His natty gnomes opened the action in the Beaux Arts College, appearing with 1950s lawn mowers to cut the grass in a garden with a large children’s playhouse, picket fence, actual little white gnomes, children’s windmills, and a gardener handing out flowers to the guests in the front row.
For next spring Browne has gone uber New England; with board striped blazers, and piped jackets worthy of a Woody Allen film set in the Hamptons of the 1930s. The seashore was present throughout the collection from pink and sky blue cotton trousers with whale prints; to some great topcoats finished with giant lobster embroidery.
His cast wore clowns hats, finished with dandelions; their faces painted with mock orange beards. They walked on classic two-tone brogues subverted by giant platforms.
The show climaxed with a score of couples, wearing exactly the same looks, but in radically different proportions. One in Browne’s little boy suit with tiny jacket and pants cut off above the ankle; the other in triple oversized proportions. Whether checkerboard rabbit jackets or diagonal stripe cricket blazers or weekend jackets covered with anchors.
“One look was how I started 17 years ago, the one beside it was this season’s silhouette,” explained Browne, who plans to sell these clothes in exactly these cuts.
You know a designer is on a roll when large swathes of his audience are wearing his clothes; and almost half the folks in the Beaux Arts were attired in Browne’s signature gray suits and charcoal sweaters.
“It all started from the gnomes, everything is pieced together from that, because they are silly and nonsense. Added to real preppy East Coast iconography. It’s an American thing to embroider these creatures on trousers,” the American couturier added.
That said, the whole set and mood vey much recalled the famed Kid Creole video Endicott. An ironic pop tune about the life of a well-behaved member of the American middle class, who is named after a shoe-manufacturing town Endicott, nicknamed The Home of the Square Deal. Browne drew a blank face, when asked about the video, and said he had never heard of it.
Instead, he pointed out that on each seat was a note that read quite simply: “to see the world through my eyes.” Today, we very much did, though perhaps too slowly.
Browne builds wonderful sets, and has created a clever and cool new aesthetic, however, having models walk ponderously around all his shows – so that they are twice as long as the average catwalk event, is beginning to feel a tad dull.
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