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thom browne, welcome to the nunnery

It’s no mean feat trying to silence NYFW, but Thom Browne did, with his ode to the romance of the Catholic church.

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At first there were pranks in the pews and selfies at the cross from the mature crowd, but eventually the candlelight, incense mist and choral music got people hushed. Then came the clothes, which started off in his trademark grey flannel, moved through midnight navy (so dark it looked black) and finally into shimmering, Klimt's-Kiss-down-the-disco gold. Habits were cut in half to feel like capes and female proportions were exaggerated through neat collars, corsets, giant shoulders and fishtail skirts. Despite being covered up, the women felt psycho-sexy; their ice-white bird nest bobs and spooked faces putting everything on edge. There was something of the Disney Evil Witch about them all. i-D caught Thom backstage and here’s what he said.

Did you have a religious upbringing yourself?           
Yes, I’m Catholic, but this is more just playing into the romantic idea of religion.

The shapes echo your recent menswear show.            
I design them at the same time, but it’s a different interpretation for women’s – the fabrics are different and it’s a lighter construction. I’m interpreting that into more of a 1940s shape for girls. The waist of the jackets are a lot different, the hips of the bottoms are a lot different. The shoulder was somewhat referencing what I did for the men’s season.

Tell us about your love for grey.
I just love the colour. I love the fabrics. It’s what I love myself, so I like to always start the show with that.

The shapes were incredibly complex – do you do the pattern cutting yourself?
No, I have very good pattern cutters that I’ve been working with for a while. Thank god I do work with them!

Talk about seriousness Vs playfulness in your work.
The seriousness is in how things are made – I hope people can see how seriously everything is made. And I like to play with it and be somewhat entertaining too.

Does wearability concern you at all?
No. It’s all wearable – it’s being worn by the girls in the show - and I don’t design things for everyone. I have a commercial collection that does that. What you see in the show is exactly what I want you to see.           

Who do you envisage wearing the pieces?           
Just a cool girl that understands well-made clothes and has the confidence to wear them.

Apparently one of the ideas behind the show was “nuns are cool”...            
Yeah, that’s just a ridiculous thing – people want a word or phrase, so ok, whatever!

Did you know any nuns growing up?           
Yeah, we had nuns at school.

The gold at the end was gorgeous.
It started from these vintage gold lamé fabrics that I found and I was playing into the ‘40s tailoring idea. I always find it hard to find gold lamé these days that isn’t too synthetic looking. Finding these vintage fabrics was a real revelation.

thombrowne.com