Thom Browne Menswear Spring Summer 2014 Paris

Thom Browne is a man known for his rigorous attention to details, and his talents as an expert at tailoring have been well documented. So it would seem like something of a no brainer for Browne to choose to go with a military theme for his menswear show.

But as we are talking about Thom Browne here then it goes without saying that his take on one of the most classic forms of masculine dress would be warped in some bizarre way.

The show, which took place at the École Militaire in Paris, began with the unmistakable  “O Eee Ahhh, Eeeo Ahh” March of The Winkies chant sung by the Wicked Witch of the West’s palace guard in the move The Wizard of Oz.  Equal parts menacing and amusing, the melody was a pretty good metaphor for Browne’s collection.

The designer loves his theatrics and that meant that the military might of this collection would have to come in the form of rosy cheeked, red lipped, and mirrored sunglass wearing toy soldiers. But there was just something a bit off with the painted faced models dressed in chunky heeled shoes with ruffled white socks.

The rigor of a general's jacket might have been expertly tailored and emphasized with silver buttons running in a row down the sleeves but its authority would be undermined by the fact it was cut in patent leather or covered in an embroidered anchor motif. Classic A-line overcoats were exaggerated with box pleats or tricked out with corset lacing along the spine. And lets not forget the looping braided ropes swinging between the soldiers legs or alternatively some sporran-like cod pieces that swaddled the models.

The collection was unquestionably over the top. But it could be embraced more easily with the knowledge that more commercial alternatives await buyers in the show room. Buy a more restrained version of what walked the catwalk? Now those are marching orders that will certainly be followed.

- Jessica Michault

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