Calling Thom Browne a menswear designer would be a grand understatement, not only because he also designs womenswear, but because he is one of the greatest showmen of our time, a rarity on the American ready-to-wear circuit.
Just two weeks ago in Paris, he showed his modernist take on a Geisha teahouse, all intricately patterned, perfectly patched, and hand-pieced suits with every ornamental Japanese motif under the sun, and lush kimonos to boot (currently on display at Bergdorf Goodman). However, for the reinstatement of New York Fashion Week: Mens’, Browne took a decidedly quieter, but no less beautiful, approach: the classic grey suit.
While this might sound familiar, it’s only because this is the suit—with it’s lightly boxy proportions and cropped hems—on which Browne founded his company a little over a decade ago. However, this time, Browne’s signature red, white, and blue “locker loop” on backs of jackets is a solid medium-cool shade of grey. Best of all, his famed tailor, the legend that is Rocco Ciccarelli, is now in-house working exclusively for the newly-expanded Thom Browne made-to-measure business.
When we visited Browne’s garment district studio for a preview of the collection, he shared, “I wanted to do introduce the U.S. to handmade clothing again. This is the introduction of all the clothing made in-house, in my office, in my space, and there’s something special about debuting it at New York Fashion Week:Mens’.”
Never one to bypass theatricality, either, Browne staged his offering in a white cube, art installation-style. And true to gallery opening form, there was a queue that could have easily served as a scale rendering for Marina Abramovic’s “The Artist is Present” or Alexander McQueen at The Met. Fortunately, for those in attendance, smartly dressed Browne-clad guys and girls were on hand with fresh breakfast pastries, coffee, and juice.
Upon cube entry, guests were then treated to a hall of floor-to-ceiling mirrored surfaces, including a single desk and chair where male models stood in dark glasses and identical iterations of the Thom Browne grey suit, tie, and Chesterfield coat-some light and striped, others checkered and dark, and those brogues. These maintained their signature tri-colored tab.
When asked why he chose the art installation style, Browne simply said, “I want it to feel not like a fashion show. The ‘fashion’ is really in how it’s made. The quality of the make is the fashion.”