Signatures. Thom Browne Pre-Fall 2022

People might find Thom Browne’s work monotonous, if they look at it superficially. Gray wool suit, pleated skirt, rakish tie – these distinct Browne signatures are always there. However, Browne rarely does the same thing twice. Sure, he has a very stable gray wool core, but each season he delights in trying out an outrageous new silhouette, a clever in-joke, or a cheeky rethink of an American staple. While this women’s collection carries over motifs from Browne’s men’s pre-fall, including lovely jade floral intarsias inspired by his bedroom wallpaper and a fixation with lobsters resulting in an exceptional Shetland wool lobster skirt – he introduced new whimsical proportions here. A cropped puffer was so short and bulbous it almost looked like a mushroom cap atop slender black trousers. Browne has never made a womenswear silhouette that exaggerates the upper body in this abbreviated way before. Elsewhere, khaki shorts do the opposite for a woman’s lower half; they’re cut wide, loose, and sexless enough to look dementedly funny. The signature Browne suit has evolved, as well: The shoulderpads and the canvas are cut out of the brand’s cropped blazer so that it’s as soft and snuggly as a cardigan, constructed from an elegant black-and-white tweed. The check gray skirt suit in look 28 might seem standard, but look closer and Browne is doing something strangely new: here is a single-breasted blazer with a vest long enough to be worn as a dress and a loose, almost shapeless skirt. For a designer with famously strict tailoring, silhouettes that skim the body and waft in the breeze are practically revelatory. Browne says the suit is “the most important look” of the collection, unlocking an idea that will carry to the silhouettes we’ll see in his autumn-winter 2022 outing in a couple of weeks.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Suits & Intarsia. Thom Browne Pre-Fall 2022

For pre-fall 2022, Thom Browne‘s models sport inches-long falsies and tote leather lobster bags and backpacks in a display that is so provocatively Surrealist it recalls Elsa Schiaparelli’s daring 1937 dress with a crustacean across the crotch. Browne’s version relies less on the obvious pun of that exoskeletal creature – he says the lobster is just the latest of the animals he has welcomed into his zoo – and more an examination of the beauty of skirting on men. It’s a continuation of ideas he started nearly 20 years ago but have taken hold of late, with Dan Levy and Lee Pace wearing Browne’s skirts on the red carpet. This season he’s constructed half-pleated, half-straight versions of his classic kilt, worn with “one-and-a-half”–breasted blazers with self-tipped seams and covered buttons. Modular dresses in melton wool carry over from the spring 2022 collection, now in warm dove gray and mossy celadon. A selection of slim, sexy black-tie options, from midi-skirts to short suits, close out the collection. Saving the best for last, there are also jade green floral intarsias. Those of us who have followed Browne for the past two decades may think that he’s tapped all his personal references, but a wise designer always leaves himself room for more. Just before the pandemic hit, Browne and his partner, Andrew Bolton, purchased a new home in Manhattan, which they spent two years renovating. This fall they finally moved in, and their central aesthetic compromise was the hand-painted jade green floral wallpaper above their bed. The same flowers are cut in furs and wools, winding up on overcoats and embroidered into jackets. “I don’t think I’ve ever done anything as personal,” Brown summed up. The couple’s home, he says, will be off-limits to design mags, but this simple shared gesture is open to everyone to try on and try out. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that who you spend your life with matters.

Need a quick Thom Browne wardrobe fix? These classics will be it: Thom Browne red & navy wool cardigan, Thom Browne grey car coat, Thom Browne multicolor check miniskirt, Thom Browne grey twill 4-bar blazer & Thom Browne grey waterproof wool derbys.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Structured Softness. Gauchere AW21

Marie-Christine Statz filmed her Gauchere autumn-winter 2021 collection in the Centre Pompidou. The bold, colourful postmodernist architecture of the Parisian art mecca fits Gauchere’s style really well. Essentially, the collection is about the way contemporary women dress in life. Statz is an exacting tailor, and her vision of modern female dress hinged on a dropped and deflated shoulder, which gave models a friendly prowess. Navy suits and brushed mohair turtlenecks followed the same line – slightly aggressive, but easy. Statz’s models passed each other in the Pompidou’s corridors and on escalators but did not acknowledge one another. “They are crossing but not interacting,” she said over a video chat with Vogue. “They are locked in and isolated in their own worlds.” However, their clothing has a freeing effect. Even with such a no-fuss attitude, Statz found ways to inject warmth. She cut a swinging tank dress in a spongy, nubbly knit and color-blocked shades of azure and grass within a single spritely look. On their feet, models wore sneakers as part of a collaboration with Li-Ning or Gauchere’s first foray into its own footwear: pillowy slides and pumps that are stuffed to have a cushy, exaggerated effect. “Structure, but with a softness to it,” Statz called it.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Functional Chic. Peter Do AW21

Peter Do‘s autumn-winter 2021 collection is his best to date. The designer is confidently stepping out of his minimalist comfort zone, offering a chic take on ‘after dark’ style (something many designers are talking about in Paris this season). Those giant feather brooches placed on jacket shoulders clearly say it. Or all the lace inserts used in the tailored pieces. “I felt like it was the right time to dress up, to be seen, to say that we’re here,” the New York-based designer summed up. Twelve months of living more or less like shut-ins has spawned a collective urge for shine, skin, and sexy high heels. This newfound instinct for embellishment aside, Do’s gifts as a designer are of the engineering variety. Anyone can add decorative fringe to a jumpsuit. It takes a clever patternmaker to create pieces like floor-scraping shirts that fold up and over the shoulders in dramatic swoops; the jacket/cape hybrids modeled here by Anh Duong and Maggie Maurer; and the rib-knit halter and shrug sets that he showed with another signature: tailored kilts worn over sharply cut matching trousers. As his business grows, elaborating on these two-in-one concepts will continue to distinguish Do from the rest of the fashion pack.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Sculptural Ease. Hed Mayner AW21

Hed Mayner is one of the most underrated menswear labels, which is just the perfect place for unconventional elegance (and tailoring!) fans. The dynamic between inside and outside – the need to isolate on one hand and what he sees on the streets of Paris and Tel Aviv (the city where the designer is based), on the other – led him to paring things down and meandering through the possibility of line or the language of fabric. “Tailoring can take you into a process where you obsess over the perfect jacket. What I’m trying to do is keep something askew,” the designer noted in a Zoom interview with Vogue. Comfort dressing in slouchy, cozy fabrics was already Mayner’s home turf. This season, he’s expanded that sensibility and reframed it with ample yet tailored silhouettes and more traditional materials, like fluid Italian wools and English tweeds. For the first time, he ventured into double-faced fabrics, for example in a military-inspired coat that, thanks to a simple slit in back, can also be worn as a cape (a quilted puffer reprised that idea too). He also went to town on proportion, stripping away lapels, elongating tops, dropping hems, and toying with asymmetry, bell sleeves, major shoulders, and trousers that sit high on the waist. Those might be tucked into a long, slouchy boot or quite simply cropped above the ankle, judo-style, and paired with a big-buckled shoe. The effect was often sculptural, and warm hues of ivory, rust, camel, butter and olive green added to the feeling of gentle ease. Mayner said that his clients tend to pick a total look, then break it down and make it their own. When autumn arrives, they’ll have a lot to play with.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.