thom browne throws a 60s poolside disco for spring/summer 17
Thom Browne is one of the most meticulous designers in fashion. During his brand's New York Fashion Week shows, each and every member of the PR team is dressed not in some shade of black, but in head-to-toe Thom Browne suiting, trimmed with the brand's signature tri-color grosgrain ribbon. This season, Front of House photographers were all asked to wear white lab coats marked with the same trademark trim. Such religious adherence to idiosyncratic codes might be grating if it wasn't for another central component of Thom Browne's DNA: humor. His is often one of the most precise collections on the schedule, but debuted through one of the wittiest, most imaginative shows. Browne's spring/summer 17 offering — presented yesterday at his usual Chelsea venue — proved no exception to either precedent.
Like his clothes, Browne's sets are always incredibly well constructed. Multicolored tiles covered yesterday's show space, forming a pixelated poolside mural. The benches were covered in white terry towel. Models all came out at once in chatty cliques; each girl lined up, then removed her enormous coat and cap dotted with appliqué flowers. Underneath, they wore Browne's typical tailored clothing — skirts, blazers, vests, button downs. Except, there was a twist: each look was a single garment.
Through masterful use of trompe l'oeil techniques including intarsia, fabric mixing, and playful graphic lines, Browne's pieces created the illusion that his models were sporting a series of preppy separates. Those pleated "skirts", "sweaters" knotted at the waist, and tidy suit "sets" were all part of a single dress that zipped down the back, like a wetsuit. These straight silhouettes proved the perfect canvas for Browne's inspiration this season: the 60s, a la Jackie O. Models strutted around the tiled pool to a soundtrack of lounge-jazz tunes, their hands turned outward in an homage to the era's salon-style fashion presentations.
As in past seasons, animals appeared throughout the collection. Models carried dog-shaped bags (a Browne favorite) and wore fish-shaped sunglasses. Men dressed as cats — with creepy masks and searsucker tails — paced around the runway; others dressed as parrots swooped in too. After the last model returned to her post, another sporting a mirrored dress and dog headpiece made her way to the center of the set. The lights dimmed, disco music began to play, and the headpiece became a disco ball as the model spun slowly under a spotlight. Each girl unzipped her garment, revealing red, white, and blue striped swimsuits before sitting down on the tile to lounge "poolside." It was constructed to perfection, unexpected, and hilarious. Thom Browne has mastered a rare feat in fashion: staging a truly elaborate spectacle that in no way distracts from or overshadows the quality of his designs.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Don Buckley