Thom Browne takes his themes very literally. One season, an underwater inspiration brought full scaly fish suits to the catwalk. In Milan, his Moncler Gamme Bleu presentation took place at a velodrome, featuring models riding round and round in circles (he'd been watching the Tour de France). Today in Paris – his first time showing in the French capital – he chose astronauts. The glory of space travel, the thrill of the unknown, the heroic men who went there first. Held inside a white concrete dome on the outskirts of the city, he threw everything at the audience but the spaceship itself.
It began with a voice over – we were there for a press conference to celebrate the champion astronauts, questions should not be asked until advised. Out walked 30 men in moon suits and space helmets. They were led by an official looking NASA-type in navy suit and aviators. The astronauts walked the length of the room and out the door, along a curved corridor and up to a series of coat hooks.
There they stood, backs against the wall, until they were given the nod by their leader. At once, all turned and placed their helmets on a ledge, then unzipped their suits and hung them from the hooks provided. When they were all undressed, they stood still for a moment, then – one by one – entered the dome once again.
Each model was dressed in a signature Thom Browne shorts suit – shrunken blazer with cropped arms, above knee shorts, long socks and clumpy American brogues. Their hair was glossed like a 50s cartoon character, with gold running down the side part. Their lips were bursting with gold flakes.
Every suit was a Thom Browne version of an American classic – charcoal, checked, striped, madras, gingham, houndstooth, black, blue, tuxedo, seersucker – if you can name it, it was probably there. Thom Browne has typecast himself as something of a one-trick pony – that Little Grey Suit is still his major claim to fame. But this collection proved that the one suit can go a long, long way. To space and back. In every manifestation possible. Gone were the over the top frivolities of his past few shows, gone were the extraneous details, this was a concise collection of American suits, albeit the shorter version. He's got a way to go before the silhouette he offers achieves ubiquity, but a whole raft of the editors in attendance were proudly wearing his designs. One only wonders where he'll go next.
The show ended with David Bowie's Ground Control to Major Tom. Literal, yes, but would you expect anything else?
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