Thom Browne: The wonderful world of WASPs
This season Thom Browne devoted himself to a genre he truly adores, the WASPs, and their most traditional sub-culture, the preppies.
Rarely has this designer’s love of classic prep school style been so evident than in this Fall/Winter 2020-21 collection, staged on a miserably wet Sunday afternoon in Paris.
His set, on the other hand, was more conventionally Thom Browne – a winter birch wood doused in fake snow, where the master of ceremonies was a lanky model in hyper platforms and a ringmaster coat piped in the same club tie colors as his kilt.
Gesturing energetically, he conducted out the cast – 33 couples all told, wearing identical outfits – a proper first in fashion, which is rare. And, though Thom didn’t break that much new ground in terms of technique, his atelier has rarely been in such good form.
Models wore assemblage compositions of trench coat, classic jacket, kilt, business suit and blazer, often in a single look. Exaggerated shoulders, dropped lapels, micro-jackets contrasted with grandiose white ties. And there were all sorts of embellishments – bouillon, crystal embroideries and grosgrain ribbon trim.
Mannish gals and ladylike gents – every one of them carrying a grain leather handbag. Talk about a Noah’s Ark of bags, each in the shape of a different animal – tortoise, hippopotamus, Shetland pony, cobra, rooster, terrier, elephant, dachshund and black sheep among many others.
Everything was made in gray, navy, black and white with dashes of repp ties, Prince of Wales check and elegiac intarsia. In a word, America’s most important contemporary tailor was working his favorite theme – the gray flannel suit and the hidden fantasies and perversities of uptight New England.
Nearly 20 years ago, Browne opened up a tiny tailoring store in the West Village of New York. Today he retails in over 300 leading department stores and specialty boutiques worldwide. His is a triumph of skill, energy, talent and, above all, a tenacious attachment to his own naughty WASPy vision.
No wonder they gave Browne a rousing ovation at the finale – he deserved every clap.
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