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Theater of Enchantment, Fashion, and Art

Thom Browne celebrated his label’s 20th anniversary with a winter haute couture collection that hums a story of discovery and voyage.
Thom Browne celebrated his label’s 20th anniversary with a winter haute couture collection that hums a story of discovery and voyage.

In a hypnotizing theater of enchantment, fashion, and art, Thom Browne celebrated his label’s 20th anniversary with a winter haute couture collection that hums a story of discovery and voyage. Staged at the iconic Opera Garnier for a one-night only spectacle, elements of classic American sportswear were enlightened by the artistry of couture, narrating a journey into a new world of illuminated form built on the essentials that made Thom Browne a celebrated name in fashion design. The opera itself provided a dramatic backdrop for a dramatic show, that made grey come alive with materials, textures, and shapes that opened into an alternative reality, one full of curiosity and delight. Filling the auditorium, black and white cut-outs that resembled the designer himself were cloaked in the signature grey Thom Browne uniform, and craft an atmosphere of sophisticated gaze that allowed attendees to feel enraptured by a somber yet spirited momentum that arrested the stage for the over 30-minute performance.   

Cutting-edge and cultured, the show begins with a figure wearing the label’s classic grey jacket and kilt, followed by two porters flowing across the stage and placing luggage in the center, curiously setting a tone for travel and exploration. Seating herself among the luggage, the figure watches the rest of the show, representing the established Thom Browne aesthetic as she looks towards the future of form materializing around her. What follows is a visionary performance of arresting silhouettes and almost ghostly movements, all clad in various shades of grey, a masterful fusion of trompe l’oeil wool tailoring and rounded tweed profiles, crafted from seersucker tulle, mélange pouf yarn, grosgrain ribbon, and sheer organza lace.

Exaggerated shapes, pinstripes, and textures emerge as patchwork checks, embroidered silver and gold sequins, feathered bodysuits, and 3D clouds embellish pieces with a sense of amazement and otherworldly charm. Then the performance turns to the sea, with crustaceans, lighthouses, anchors, natural ropes, and a figure representing a mermaid float through their journey with mystical aplomb, storied and fantastical. Figures representing a conductor and a train soon follow, with the conductor shrouded in a full-length trench coat that boasted meticulous hand embroidery in grey and gold bullion thread, and the train in an extraordinary sheer white dress that trailed ten feet behind. As the train passes our viewer seated by the luggage, they exchange a knowing look before disappearing into the grey, setting a dramatic final scene that envelopes this voyage in couture in the sublime and the surreal, a poetic finish to a mesmerizing show.   

Bringing an ethereal ambience of high-minded sensibilities mixed with poise and beauty, the show was set to Visage’s “Fade to Grey” track and established a mood of elegance and wonder for the entirety of the performance. In all, Thom Browne’s haute couture collection for Winter 2023-24 was a dynamic spectacle of alluring charm and unbridled fascination, showing that fashion design bears the power to move emotions and rouse the senses, awakening the soul to the wonders of the transcendent and beautiful, exalted and affecting.   

February 2024

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