New York Fashion Week: Thom Browne thinks big
When I saw Thom Browne's fall/winter 2010 runway collection would be showing at the Park Avenue Armory this season, I immediately envisioned the immense, 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall with its soaring barrel-vaulted ceiling where most of the fashion events take place (last season Yohji Yamamoto and French soccer player Zinedine Zidane memorably kicked soccer balls toward runway photographers at the culmination of a Y-3 show there).
But once again, Browne was playing with proportions -- and expectations -- and attendees found themselves sequestered in small groups in one of four 19th-century-period reception rooms off to the left and right. (The room I was seated in, known as "The Veterans Room," is apparently one of only two remaining interiors in the world designed by Louis C. Tiffany Associated Artists.)
Models walked, sauntered really, from room to room, like high-class thieves looking for the elusive mother lode of fine china -- heads wrapped in scarves or topped with caps, and eyes hidden behind sunglasses.
But the most noticeable thing wasn't the creepy cat-burglar vibe -- it was the amount of fabric that swathed and swaddled them. Browne didn't just slowly move away from his signature shrunken suit aesthetic for fall/winter 2010 -- he ran.
There were floor-dusting cable knit sweaters, voluminous trench coats, scarves by the yard, and outsize fur muffler mittens that could easily have been entered in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show happening across town.
Browne went big on layering, logos, lapels; anything that could have been whittled away and pared down in past seasons seem to spring back bigger and bolder. Zippers running down the back of some outerwear pieces were three fingers wide, and satchels seemed big enough to accommodate the decorative candelabras scattered around the room -- without disturbing the flames.
There was a definite fall/winter carnival vibe going on too -- embroidered snowflakes adorned toggle buttons, and intarsia knits depicted retro-looking football players, footballs and snowmen (each of which was wearing a red-white-and-blue Thom Browne scarf of its own).
And then there was the fur: fur earmuffs, fur-trimmed detachable trench coat hoods, extra wide fur-bearing lapels, the aforementioned mufflers, and a couple of coats festooned with raccoon tails.
Those particular over-the-top flourishes might not make it to retail, but I'm betting the bulk of the bulked-up collection will be popular.
And if that's the case, I don't suspect we'll see the designer high-tail it back in the other direction any time soon.
-- Adam Tschorn in New York
Photos: Looks from Thom Browne's fall/winter 2010 runway collection. Credit: Peter Stigter and Jonas Gustavsson / For the Times.