Crazy Ladies: Thom Browne Spring 2014

Evil nurse was my first thought at Thom Browne today, then mollusk queen, then back to insane asylum. The latex-like coats, smeared red lipstick on the models, their crazed expression, and the white M&Ms they passed out in prescription cups would suggest as much. Designer, interrupted.

Following last season’s forlorn fairy-tale characters, for spring Browne’s girls were downright scary, resembling an unstable, cockeyed Helena Bonham Carter in a Tim Burton movie — once a friendly doll, perhaps, but now a ghost with frighteningly teased hair. To suspenseful music-box chimes and headless mannequins dangling from the ceiling, his restless spirits floated down the catwalk very slowly, as if cursed to forever wander a netherworld they never quite recognize. Or they’re really zoned out from those M&Ms.

They wore almost all white, save for a touch of blue in the shoes and Browne’s tricolored logo that formed the lining of handbags deliberately left agape. The clothes’ mummified construction was obsessively wrought, as if by a mad scientist. They came as swirls of padded shell shapes, or as petrified square cages of fabric that didn’t budge as the wearer inched along, like papier-mâché armor. There was also plenty of lace, lacing, and corseting, among other Victorian clues.

In a game of Spot the Reference, some might also find a courtly Elizabethan vibe in the bustle shapes and bodices, or a resemblance to Karl Lagerfeld in the frosted white hair and starchy men’s collars. Tempting ideas, but most likely these ladies are exquisite corpses from deep within the designer’s haunted imagination — a world, and a dimension, far away from his preppy men’s line.

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