Thursday, November 6, 2008

Runway - Thom Browne: Fall 2008

Normally I would be considered much less than a fan of Thom Browne. Although he helped usher in suit shorts, which I avidly support, in most cases his clothing appears stiff, contrived, and either overly restrained or not restrained enough. His Fall 2008 show, however, completely changed the way I view his work.

For many, the show was seen as the circus it was themed after. How it should be viewed, however, is a study on how the male body can be divided and broken apart into new proportions and a statement on today’s male gender issues.

Mainly, Browne introduced a high-waisted, traditionally-styled men’s slack paired with a cropped jacket. Oddly enough, this idea actually creates a much more flattering and stately appearance than typical suits. Above, the shorts provide the outfit with a bit of a bounce. Below, the emphasized contrast and the long pant give it a stiff and heavy appearance while the exposed ankles maintain a sense of movement. In both cases, the placement of pocket flaps on the pants is incredibly important to maintain a sense of the waist’s true location. The repetition of these flaps onto the jacket help to ensure that the cropped top will be viewed as squared off and masculine.

Above we again see a flood pant. The exposed ankle prevents the wearer from feeling too grounded, communicating at a simple level a sense of awareness and quick response. The diagonal lines of argyle help to emphasize this point. The way which the plaid shirt flares out helps to balance the fantastic caplet, which would otherwise make the outfit look a bit top heavy and clumsy. Also, pointy hats are always fun.

In all of these outfits strong allusions to the archetypical men’s outfit – the suit – are made through fabric, form, and detail. This allows Browne to take much larger creative liberties while playing with male proportions. I doubt that his explorations would have been so successful had he ditched this strong connection to traditional menswear.

Outside of proportions, I love Browne’s continuing discussion on men’s gender issues. This show rather literally demonstrated the constraint of men. The above piece can be viewed either as a man who is too tied up in his own masculinity to achieve a full expression of himself or, the reverse, a man who is too tied up by today’s hatred of masculinity to achieve full expression of himself. Obviously, this show hit right on cue with the exploration of Vanguard.

Lastly, I thought I’d leave you with a quote by Thom Browne that was stolen from This, again, shows the extreme relevancy of Browne to the goals of Vanguard.

"I don't know what the future of men's fashion will be like. I just hope that everyone does their own thing… Because that is what I'm going to do."

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