Things are happening at Thom Browne. Specifically, in the last three months, he secured a majority investor in Sandbridge Capital, hired a new chief executive officer Rodrigo Bazan from Alexander Wang, and, on Monday, won the CFDA’s Menswear Designer of the Year award. All this momentum was reflected in his resort collection, a bright, thoughtful and comprehensive approach to the fashion calendar’s most commercial season. “I’m taking the strong stories from previous collections and adapting them to a more commercial point of view,” said Browne. That was not code for boring — the clothes retained the exquisite craftsmanship for which he has become known, but nothing had to be dug out from under conceptual styling.
Browne distilled the idea of reappropriating old clothes from his romantic fall runway with spliced shirtdresses with necktie trims and hybrid trenches. Traditional men’s wear jackets were feminized with floral embroidery or pleats, and pannier dresses were interpreted with an eye toward a modern, active lifestyle.
As much as he focused on continuity, Browne offered a lot in the way of newness. One fresh notion was showing the workmanship beneath his impeccable handmade tailoring via jackets and vests that displayed the guts of the garment in stitches, patches, panels and seams, making for neatly raw surface decoration. Another literally bright idea was color, lots of it, inspired by an early Sixties Life magazine editorial — “you know, the old stories of the couple from the Midwest who comes to New York for the weekend and goes to the World’s Fair out in Queens,” said Browne. He channeled the photographs’ saturated Kodachrome tones into a cotton group that intersected nostalgic American prep with modern sport in an cartoonishly appealing way. The palette was pink, blue, green and yellow — often worn all at once, as in a short jacket over a bustier top and long, elegant skirt, accessorized with a pastel leather Hector bag.
Hector, Browne’s year-old dachshund, is becoming a bit of a franchise for the label, having inspired doggy sweaters as well as an expanding handbag line. Pets aside, Browne is ramping up his accessories business. He introduced a new “cruise” bag — shaped like a classic ocean liner — as well as a crab-shaped bag and pumps with heels in the shape of anchors. They reinforced the point that, while Browne means business, he’s also having fun. “Everything is so seriously made and there are very serious ideas in the collection,” he said. “But I want everyone to smile.”