Most designers go for their signature codes this season – which basically means commercial and safe pieces. Thom Browne also went back to his core, but comparing to other brands (especially American ones), there’s nothing banal about his latest offering. For autumn-winter 2021, Browne’s men’s and women’s collection is an outrageous flexing of his prowess, garments made on such an extreme scale they’re almost overwhelming to look at, let alone think about wearing. There is not a shred of coziness, comfort, or relaxation here. If anything, Browne’s silhouettes have become stricter, more confining, more formal, unapologetically dramatic and glamorous. His starting points are always deceptively simple, like fusing black-tie clothing with sport apparel. But in result, we’ve got cinched and corseted, fanned out skirts, and shrunk jackets to little shrugs layered over voluminous wool piqué and flannel shirtdresses. A ball skirt that looks like layered puffers took more than 100 pattern pieces to make. A pleated trench coat required 209 patterns. The most mind-boggling pieces are made of curved plissé, inspired, Browne says, by the lines ice-skaters make on the rink and those that slalom skiers do as they race down the mountain. Underneath those bubble helmets and big-time bows are models of all genders, but Browne insists gender really doesn’t matter. He’s making beautiful, at points haunted clothes for everyone.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.