The first thing that hit you was the smell. The scent of recently varnished wood filled the air of the Thom Browne show space. Down in the depths of the venue this season’s set was finally revealed. There in the center was a mock-up of a turn-of-the-century operating theater, including amphitheater seating for the guests to watch the proceedings.
While the audience waited for the actual show to get underway, they were treated to a pre-show performance that consisted of pairs of men in white from head to toe (including hair and face) peering down on equally pale female models who lay prostrate on metal gurneys. Those close enough could see the outline of wings underneath the tailored jackets worn by the men and notice that the delicate dresses worn by the women featured rows of turtles and whales woven into the lace.
When the angel of death finally appeared to start the show, she was actually the harbinger of life for this collection. For even though it was filled with black widows who looked to be the counterparts to Browne’s mourning men from his menswear show last month, each noir ensemble could actually thrive in real life. An issue Browne has struggled with up until now with his theatrical womenswear line.
Each and every LBD, pantsuit and overcoat in this show was meticulously executed. The tailoring on an hourglass dress with zipper seams was spot-on perfect. The quirky trompe l'oeil string of glossy black pearls ringing the neck of a matte black coat was heaven-sent, as was a glossy raglan coat crafted from a silk and nylon grid-like jacquard. The complexity, originality and fabrication of this entire collection were a sartorial tour de force.
But this review would not be complete without paying homage to Stephen Jones. The hats in this collection, the breadth and width of their uniqueness while still being able to create a cohesive bond with their corresponding ensembles, were masterfully done. The arrival of each new look onto the operating room runway brought with it the belief that Jones would be unable to top it. And then he did.
This show was one of the best I have seen for both Browne and Jones. It almost makes you want to be a widow.