Thom Browne blurred the lines between art and fashion for fall. The designer with a penchant for stage-set extravaganza and glamorous theatrics wrote a theater piece in two acts to go along with this season’s all-black collection. The storytelling began in a pristine three-room apartment: a guy dressed in white is lying in bed in his all-white sheets in an all-white room, typewriter, teapot included — you get the idea. He goes to his closet, takes out a black suit and the world turns dark on him.
He basically dies, to spoil the end.
This triggers a lengthy funeral procession in the second act with ash falling like rain on those who came to pay their last respects. Naturally, they are all dressed in black.
Browne employed every fabric imaginable to offset the monochromatic nature of his heavily layered numbers. Tulle and taffeta, lace and fur, silk and traditional men’s wear fabrics conjured a rich and detail-driven lineup. The styling harked back at Abraham Lincoln, but when taken apart, the items — most of which were outerwear — were actually wearable today. Browne proposed beautifully tailored morning and overcoats, cropped double-breasted tweed and fur jackets with large exposed pockets, capes and slim-cut suits with tapered bottoms and big cuffs. Some of them were printed tone-on-tone with little whales or boasted ethnic patterns when seen up close. There were even amusing bags — one in the shape of a whale, the other a tortoise.
But the overly long “performance” — and funereal pace of the show — overcame the quality of Brown’s collection. To guests scrambling for answers, the designers replied: “It’s a romantic homage to a very independent, very confident young man, who has passed away after having finished his life’s work.” He said the sometimes feminine-looking mourners that were dressed in long frocks fed into the occasional beauty of someone’s passing. Voilà: Romance according to Browne.