Fauna & Flora & Fantasy: Thom Browne Fall Men’s 2014

It might seem hard to believe that a show featuring animal-shaped headgear and Michelin Man-style neo-camouflage outfits was actually restrained, yet Thom Browne’s show was — by the designer’s standards, of course.

Indeed, the maverick American has always tried to push the limits of men’s tailoring with offbeat proportions, unexpected decoration, and painstakingly staged spectacles with a cinematic flair — it would be interesting to see him ‘do a Tom Ford’ and direct a movie. But Browne’s gimmicks sometimes do his shows a disservice. This designer is at his best when the campiness is carefully dosed and when historical references aren’t too obvious.

That’s what happened this season, and his terrific collection was a perfect mix of user-friendly pieces, craftsmanship, wit, and fantasy, with a subtle nod to current trends. The first section was an all-gray affair, starring superbly cut suits with varying check patterns and proportions, outlined with frayed hems. The models’ kooky hats reproduced reindeer, elephant or rabbit heads, recalling the naive fabric wildlife and landscape around which the models walked.

The second part expressed the designer’s wilder side, with capacious jackets and pants in an inventive camouflage motif, a leaf pattern that was occasionally appliquéd and replicated as make-up on the face. With their built-in backpacks, they had an unmistakable streetwear vibe, recalling the kind of crazy fare expected from a hot young London designer.

By the time the two styles reunited for the finale, two strong trends of the season had been confirmed — gray and streetwear — and a great, one-of-a-kind American brand had been reloaded.

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