by Erin Moonyeen Haley
There are designers who put on shows and there are designers who choreograph experiences. Designer Thom Browne - an Imagineer when it comes to modern tailoring - falls in the latter category, offering runway extravagance during Paris Fashion Week that dovetailed the near-giddy theatrics courtesy of sweeping robes, silk taffeta opera coats, saddle shoes and embellished designs that call to mind a time when fashion was a baroque juggernaut. (With Dangerous Liaisons set to make an encore appearance on Starz, perhaps there is a bit of the clairvoyant in Browne’s sumptuousness as the world seeks to embrace decadence yet again.)
As a designer, Browne has declared that the “idea of uniformity to me is interesting because I think it does show true individuality, and I think that it shows true confidence.”
Neither term was lacking in his Paris show. With statuesque thespians such as Michaela Jaé Rodriguez from Pose and Gwendoline Christie of Game of Thrones fame working the runway, the models created a synthesis of ready-to-wear glam that bespoke of Browne’s thesis in the fusion of confidence with individuality.
With ruffled collars channeling the Renaissance and lace netting over hats calling to mind post-World War II Paris when women sought to reclaim coy fashion glory, there wasn’t an era that Browne seemed adverse to visiting.
Chic crop coats in lipstick red were paired with veils made flirty with polka dots. Plaid-print half-corset attachments reminded audiences that garments don't have to sacrifice the fun and frisky to be fashion-forward.
Male models strutted in oversized tuxedo jackets and kilts where plaids and strips created a delightful melee of fabrics and eye-dizzying patterns that were a kiss-kiss homage to punk. The stuffed dog purses completed the subtle anti-establishment nod.
With pursed, crimson lips, Rodriguez elevated the schoolgirl-with-an-attitude strut into an iconic walk not seen since Jawbreakers. The platform saddle shoes redefined the preppy ensemble that cheekily matched exposed underwear, netted veils and shortened tie.
Then there were the long Bermuda shorts that classified the innocent schoolboy edge, while the red lips reminded all that this was a brash business look.
And yet, amid the suits and ties, the voluptuous robes with satin and silk panels stole the show, sweeping across the runway in a range of colors straight from the Fabergé egg spectrum: peach, seafoam, cherry, lemonade and lavender. The result was that everything was orderly in that it was all over the top, with the concept of 'too much' crystallizing into a vehicle for originality.
Pictures courtesy of Vogue Runway