This season Thom Browne whisked us into his eccentric imagination with a breathtaking display of fantastical epic proportions
The secret garden: Tim Burton edition
It was a forty-minute wait at the Thom Browne show, yet not a soul complained. How could they, when upon entry they were whisked into the imagination of New York’s reigning eccentric, greeted by a breathtaking display of epic proportions? Inside, a garden full of human sculptures depicted five springtime tableaus: sailing, shuttlecock, butterfly catching, gardening, and sunbathing, featuring models with marble-painted faces and jewel-encrusted seersucker suits. And that was before the show even started.
“On Mondays we wear men’s tailoring”
The audience was hushed by the appearance of a bowler-topped, green-seersuckered man on the runway, who pushed an old-fashioned lawnmower. Then, a mother’s voice filled the room: “I’m going to tell you a story,” she cooed, “a timeless story,” before going on to describe the six “inseparable” sisters to whom the garden belonged. “They didn’t agree on everything, but they did agree on what to wear from Monday to Friday.” (Eventually, it was revealed that on weekends they went nude.)
The sartorial whims of the fashionable sorority were described in elaborate detail in the whimsical story that ensued, with magnificently topped models illustrating the bedside narrator’s colorful, spring-loving characters. While each extravagant look deserved its own fairy tale, some common themes arose. The most prominent, of course, was the subversion of men’s tailoring – Thom Browne’s speciality – although in this bedtime story, a love of menswear was attributed to oldest sister Beatrice, who believed they should “set the tone for the rest of the week.”
For all the childlike charm, the twee exterior was penetrated by a disquieting Stepford sinisterness, as all the human sculptures remained frozen and unblinking in the spectacle’s center for one hour, while the models tried to see through opaque, blinding glasses, and balance precarious fascinators around the grass runway.
There was a meta element too, with all the headwear (by the designer’s loyal collaborator Stephen Jones, perhaps his single contemporary in the arena of eccentricity) depicting other items of clothing. Hats were shaped like handbags, like dresses. Our narrator wasn’t kidding, apparently: the lives of these six sisters were ruled by fashion.
Words: Seymour Glass.
Photography: Dan and Corina Lecca.