After Men’s Fashion Week, it’s time for Haute Couture, and Thom Browne has presented his first couture collection as a guest member in Paris. Pigeons, bells, gargoyles and even a train await us inside the Palais Garnier, where the American designer decided to hold the show. It isn’t the first time that the brand is in the Opera House; in 2022 the women’s S/S23 presentation was also located there. At that time, Thom showcased a modern takeout on Cinderella’s fairy tale in the grand foyer of the building, but now he’s back to take over the auditorium and present the new story of a lonely solo traveller in a train station. “I am just doing what I do but heightening it to a level that was worthy of showing this week,” he says.
Names like Emma Chamberlain, Amber Kuo, Saint Jhn or Maisie Williams were among the audience on the Palais. Everyone had a tiny scroll tied up with Thom Browne’s signature ribbon and half of the English proverb ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ printed on them. Real-size grey pigeons could be found everywhere and, hanging above, there was a huge bell, all made of textile. On the other side of the auditorium, two thousand bidimensional black and white cut-outs wearing The Uniform were filling up the pit, as if they were going to watch the play that was soon starting.

Lights off, flashes on, music, cue. Two models dressed like the cut-outs come up to the stage carrying lots of luggage. They place all the suitcases in the centre, under the bell. Shortly after, our main character (iconic model Alek Wek) makes an entrance and sits on one of the trunks. Around her, the runway gets started.

A total of fifty-two looks were presented before the grand finale. The models were divided into different characters that played different roles in the story. For example, there were twelve looks that represented twelve bells. Throughout the show, these models kept appearing with bell-shaped hats, puffy extra-large rounded sleeves and high heels ornamented with hanging little chimes on the back of the shoes. They symbolised the passage of time and, when one appeared, the music announced its arrival by reproducing bell sounds.

Another example could be the eighteen passengers. Each model walked the runway twice wearing slightly different outfits. All their clothes had maritime motives all over (there was even a mermaid among them), and they wore colourful makeup and misplaced wigs. Other characters that could be distinguished were two pigeons and two gargoyles. The birds were wearing moulded jacket skirts with embroidered feathers, and the statues were dressed in embroidered coat dresses wrapped in trompe l'oeil body silk drapes.

It wasn’t until the end that you could understand the entire story. A new character appears, she is wearing an almost all-white look with a train-shaped headpiece that resembles a punk’s Mohican. The train has arrived at the station. She is followed by the conductor, who is dressed in a full-length oversize tweed trench with (again) maritime motives embroidery. Finally, a model wearing a sheer bridal gown shows up on the runway accompanied by two more models that carry the three-meter-long trail, which symbolises the back part of the train. Suddenly, all passengers get onto the train and leave while our protagonist stays still in the platform station weaving back to them. At the end of the show, the question that wanders in the air is, ‘What’s just happened?’

 “The main character was sitting at the station, thinking about her life and not being very happy. And then, all of a sudden, she sees all of her fantasies walking in,” explains Thom. “She was planning on drowning in her sorrows. So that was the reason for all the underwater kind of things, the preppy East Coast iconography that I play with all the time. But then she realises her life was actually better than she thought. So, she didn’t get on the train.”
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