Thom Browne became the Chairman of CFDA, and his return home – to New York Fashion Week – felt like a promise of some sort of new, creative chapter. But his autumn-winter 2023 collection was a usual affair for the designer: theatrical gestures, cartoon-ish clothes that have more in common with costumes, and an exhausting reinterpretation of the tweed jacket. There was of course a background story for the context. “The Little Prince” was the reference point (Browne heavily resorts to literature lately). The attraction, the designer said backstage afterwards, was “how the story says that children actually see more than adults do. That was really the separation between the more strict tailoring and the more conceptual tailoring – that the kids actually saw things more interesting. Because I like to see things like that.” Browne uses his runways for story telling – “for me the shows are pure creativity, I don’t think about the business and commerce at all,” he said – and he stuck quite close to the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry novella. An aircraft pilot and a little prince stumbled around the downed plane, taking their time, the former in a quilted space suit trimmed in Browne’s signature red, white, and blue stripes, and the latter in a too-big jacket and gold knits that matched his hair. A group of models in intarsia’d silk dresses representing the six planets visited by the Little Prince prior to his meeting the pilot emerged next. They were followed by the “adults” Browne was talking about, in strict but supersized tailoring, who themselves were followed by “kids” in Comme Des Garçons-like deconstructed suits, shirts, and ties layered over precisely fitted sheaths. It was only at the end that Browne deviated from the script. The Little Prince goes missing or perhaps dies for his lost love, but the designer wanted a happy conclusion, and so Precious Lee assumed the form of an angel and rescued our hero from his melancholy.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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