With no fanfare, the theatrical and polarizing men’s designer Thom Browne is branching into women’s wear in his signature collection.
Browne has tested these waters before, selling a capsule collection at Barneys New York for a couple of seasons in 2007 and 2008. In addition, his made-to-measure business, based out of his New York shop, has always served a handful of female clients.
This time he’s taken a bigger step, designing a small collection (one rack’s worth of samples) and selling it to Barneys New York, Colette and 10 Corso Como Seoul for fall. The Thom Browne shop will carry the range as well.
“This time I have more time to focus on it,” Browne told WWD. “For September, it will be a bit bigger than before, with more styles within the categories, but very focused. In the next couple seasons it will become a fully developed collection.”
The designer, known for shaking up American men’s wear with his shrunken suits and avant-garde runway shows, sold a majority stake of his company to Japan’s Cross Company last year, and the partners are keen to sensibly extend the brand.
“This is something I really want to do and Cross is definitely supportive,” said Browne, who also talks about the relaunch of women’s in the June issue of the magazine WSJ. “I want to develop it the same way men’s developed — small at first, and evolving slowly.”
Browne believes the collection will look very familiar, with lots of his signatures.
“It’s very focused on jackets and trousers and outerwear. I think it’s what people expect from me, very men’s-inspired women’s clothing. Gray flannel, navy cashmere. Good, all-American men’s wear influence, but fitting in a cool feminine way. I want it to be very understandable. Personally, when I see it on the girls I think it looks so good. I like the idea of men’s tailoring on girls. It’s very strong and sexy in a nonovert way.”
Browne’s most significant experience in women’s is Black Fleece, the dual-gender collections that he has designed for Brooks Brothers for a few years.
This month Browne will hold his men’s show in Paris for the first time. Could a women’s show be far behind?
“I don’t know when, but definitely down the line,” he said. “You know me, I love to entertain.”
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“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia