Thom Browne has become famous for the conceptual fashion shows and films he creates for his seasonal collections. But the designer has never lost sight of the classic pieces that jumpstarted his career. Browne is today celebrating some of his best-known pieces — think shorts with shrunken blazers and pants, cardigans with a red, white and blue stripe, pleated skirts and knee socks with stripes — in a new digital campaign designed to reference classic American paintings.
The campaign features actor David Harbour (“Black Widow,” “Stranger Things,” “No Sudden Move”) and visual artist Anh Duong, and was shot by artist Tina Barney at the Teviotdale house in upstate Livingston, N.Y.
The idea behind the images is to tell the story of a couple who has been together through everything. They are shown interacting through their daily life in the house — sitting across from one another in the dining room, reading the paper by the fireplace and Duong sketching Harbour, who is lounging in a chaise in front of glass doors that open to the outside.
There is also a video from the shoot that serves to showcase the home, both inside and out. They are shown standing in front of the stately manor side-by-side, with Harbour holding a pitchfork as a nod to the iconic American Gothic painting by Grant Wood, for example.
“As the company grows and the collection evolves,” Browne told WWD, “it’s important for people to be introduced to the classic ideas and timeless shapes of where I started.” The outfits he chose are intended to showcase the “uniformity of where I am. This is very much about beautiful clothes and seeing the more-classic part of what I do.”
Browne said he’s been wanting to shoot with Barney for a while and they finally found a time and place that worked. For the models, they selected “two people I respect,” Browne said, and were able to secure the Teviotdale house, which was built in 1773 by Walter Livingston — a location that boasts “architecture that I love.”
He called Duong “an amazing intellectual and sophisticated woman,” and said Harbour was “not just an actor who wants to be famous, but an actor who really wants to be an actor. And he’s a good guy.” He said the photos are “surreal and weirdly beautiful,” more art pieces than photographs that succeed in “elevating the classic subject matter.” They will be showcased on the company’s digital channels.
Browne said this project is designed to be totally separate from the collection he will show in New York next month during fashion week. But his customers and fans can expect more such projects in the future. “Every season every year, we will do shoots that will put in front of people [images] based on my classic clothing for men and women that are beautifully made, timeless and never-changing,” he said. “It’s one of the most fascinating things I do and these classic shoots and the conceptual ideas in shows really play off each other.”