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Rooted in a message of authenticity and acceptance, Thom Browne’s Fall/Winter 2022 collection addresses the overly familiar trope of New York as a place of self-discovery. This sentiment, largely informed by literary, cinematic and folkloric representations, presents New York as a place of total revival, reimagination and reinvention. Browne approaches this narrative with a playful, yet consistent, approach.

Mimicking the influential appeal of a TED Talk – as a voiceover announced “Welcome to my Teddy Talk!” – the show was led by model Rocky Harwell dressed in the tailored extravagance of a Thom Browne teddy bear. While the real guests fringed the perimeter of the venue, an audience of five hundred teddy bears, all sporting a signature Thom Browne suit, neatly lined the raised platform in the centre of the room.

Assigning this idea of reinvention into a distinct binary, the show portrayed a narrative of the more traditional and refined looks, deemed ‘adults,’ coming to pair up with their own version of a more playful and experimental look, the ‘toys.’ As the show unfolde the once linear shapes of their partners conceptualised into swelling silhouettes and bulging profiles. Their reserved definitions becoming transposed into growing voluminous spills of material.

Soundtracked by a dribble of delicate lullabies, the ‘adults’ took to the runway in the brand’s signature couture. The models paraded the refined frames of impeccably tailored suits, with playful combinations of collegiate colours spanning ties and pleats. A meticulous assortment of flannels, wools and heritage tweeds delivered the well-constructed heir of quintessential Thom Browne uniformity. Trousers layer upon skirts, blazers atop of waistcoats, and spliced stripes ran vertically down the hemlines.

Accompanied by a chiming up-tempo march the ‘toys,’ delivered the playful duality of the concept. From colourful letter-block heels to gaudy face-paint – this playfulness spanned the entire composition of their looks. Patchwork piled onto coats and accordion pleats enveloped skirts and sleeves. Plaid bags hung open to reveal devious jack-in-the boxes and even the signature Hector bag was reimagined into a shiny red wooden racing car.

Yet the collection also communicated more nuanced concepts: bulbous forms sprouted from the models’ hairlines in a nod to the iconicity of Comme des Garçons’s Spring 1997 Lumps and Bumps collection. This layering of influence alluded to the applauded individuality of New York style, recognising the transformative ability of the city to unearth and foster creativity.

As the show dissipated, Browne left a overarching message echoing through the sunlit space and into the ears of the audience as they stumbled back out into the crowded city sidewalks: “Always be true to yourselves.”

Tiarna Meehan

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