Unlike Thom Browne’s trademark—gainfully awkward, shrunken gray suits for men, which were well represented among show-goers at his women’s collection this evening—his creations for the fairer sex could be from another planet, certainly another time, and almost beyond description. Never mind that he dressed Michelle Obama for Inauguration Day in a sedate navy coat-dress, which she cinched with a belt from J.Crew. For his women’s show, Browne reimagined a fairy-tale in all its melodramatic glory. All that was missing was a big bad wolf.
Browne transformed a Chelsea gallery space into a kind magical forest (shades of Dior’s garden stroll and Chanel’s Scottish romp), dotted with real pines and faux-snow. Scattered among the trees were male models, again in those snug gray suits and looking particularly boyish, who were blindfolded and tied down to cots with red ribbon. Browne’s girls, clearly empowered, slowly emerged and made their way through the space, each more whimsically, fantastically turned out than the last. They sported extreme square shoulders, pinched waists, geisha red lips, and shoes dripping with what seemed to be hot wax.
Gray plaid featured prominently, but only insomuch as a starting point from which to catapult into theatrical extremes. Logic and proportion flew out the window as Burtonesque exaggerations of men’s and women’s dress codes came out. Fur, lace, houndstooth, embroidery, and organza were stretched to their conceptual limits, spliced together in umpteen combinations, all leading up to the finale dress, a floor-length fishtail scarlet number made to look like a red rose—literally.