Photos: Sonny Vandevelde
Held inside infamous Maxim's with its dark red lighting and Art Nouveau decor, Thom Browne's show opened with the theme song from Cabaret. Two boys dressed like 1920s Oriental businessmen sat onstage at a table drinking champagne and nodding greetings to guests as they arrived. The designer's theme du jour? The types of fat cats who've historically spent a lot of money on liquor and fast women at such establishments – and what a brilliantly sleazy bunch they were.
They came in all manifestations: The Chicago gangsta with his chalkstripe overcoat sitting squarely on his fat shoulders; the sporting hero showing off his well-oiled biceps in a gridiron-esque sleeveless blazer; the theatre director in his outre beading, the matador with his red cloak. A couple of outfits were reserved for the girls themselves, like a fully embroidered dress hanging from a thin young man's shoulders by signature TB red, white and blue ticking. If there's one thing Thom Browne does brilliantly it's capture (and exaggerate) a cliche – here he'd done it better than ever.
The genius behind this collection (and certainly more so than last season's mad-hatter tea party range), was that if you pull it apart and remove the showmanship, you've got yourself some very wearable pieces – drill overcoats, twill trenches, a lot of classic suits. But the most delightful piece of the lot was a red, white and blue gingham baseball jacket with white leather sleeves. It was the type of piece that anybody could throw on for an instant pop of prep. Who better to offer his take on an American classic than Thom Browne? In his hands it had never looked fresher.
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