Thom Browne is not part of the designers I follow. Actually, previous to this New York Fashion Week, I had no impression of him. A few clicks on his website reveal that he was named GQ’s Designer of the Year in 2008, and has since received a number of awards for menswear. He launched a women’s line in 2011, and some of his collections have been more wearable than others (think both Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga as great fans of his work). That brings us to his SS 2013 collection, which I would call challenging.
It didn’t leave the best impression on me. My first thought was “McQueen”, and apparently, so was everyone else’s. Ok, so there’s some McQueen in there. It’s theatrical and it’s definitely not the happy kind. It’s more couture than most of the collections shown at NYFW. The clothes are layered in strange ways, latex pieces are juxtaposed with precious beadwork, handbags hang open and pearl necklaces seem to be stiffly levitating. There’s a lot of white, and a total amount of zero innocence associated with it. On the contrary, the models seem to be sad characters out of American Horror Story. Season 2. Which brings me to the epiphany: what seeing the show in person, as opposed to online, would reveal.
Call me narrow-minded, but what I couldn’t tell from the runway pictures was that the whole presentation was a spectacle. I could’ve guessed something was going on, but only to little extent. According to attendees of the show, the mood was set by a singular flickering light bulb, white walls and hanging mannequins. Then, there was the music and the delay of the show, which kept the public on their toes. First entered the ten nurses. Recognizable through their hair nets and round specs, wearing all white (including powdered hair). They slowly dispersed through the room to establish their corners, where they starting sorting medicine from jars. And then came the patients: messy hair, bleeding lipstick, necklaces and collars that seemed to barely keep their necks from falling apart. Their outfits were more elaborate, with prints and sculptural details of sorts. Asylum. It all makes sense now. These were so much more costumes than anything else. That explains the latex gloves, and the straitjacket-like sleeves and even the broken doll looks. One thing I’m still curious about: what did the invitation to this show look like? Betsey Johnson already did the pill jar this season, so what does that leave for Browne? I’m just spitballing here: a creepy music box with tiny padded walls, a syringe (duh!), or maybe a plain rubber glove?
by Daria Patrunjel
Daria Patrunjel lives in Cluj Napoca, with a photographer and a cat. The three of them together make the blog Kittenhood possible, although she clearly does most of the work.