All work and no play is a rule meant to be broken, especially in the hands Thom Browne whose ode to female empowerment plays on his strengths. Browne opened his Fall 2019 womenswear show in Paris with models dressed in fitted, shrunken, gray suits with matching cardigans layered under a camel overcoat that read more like a sterile lab coat.
His executive army marched down the catwalk and entered into a glass enclosed office. The show’s work theme intensified from there as more models followed wearing identical gray short suits with exposed socks and garters. The inner pinnings felt a little like exposing your underwear amid all of Browne’s prim and proper attire. And just as you were left wondering if you had wandered onto a satire of the movie “PlayTime,” a bouclé dress made to look like a suit with the model donning a wire monocle in front of one eye makes an appearance.
For the latter half, Browne showcased several versions of his couture-like creations, as in a three-piece suit with a matching topcoat trimmed in thick bands of rich, brown mink. And what’s this? Is this the same look again? Yes – but no! An entire three piece suit was recreated as a 2D trompe d’loeil evening dress version of the same look. Next, came a series of Thom Browne’s classic suiting, perfectly adapted for women, but with fur trim, boucle patchwork, and pleated skirts dangling shirttails from beneath hemlines. The suits were rendered in incredibly rich textiles and executed using couture techniques. All of which were followed by their twin illustrated 2D replicas of his same fine, exquisite signature column dresses.
Among the repeating motifs was a portrait of Lady Una Troubridge painted by Romaine Brooks. Lady Una was known for her masculine tailored wardrobe, and her relationship with the author Marguerite “John” Radclyffe-Hall. Browne stated that he wanted to style his models like handsome boys, explaining that ‘women are the new men.” So it was a brilliant move to remind everyone of where he started. “I would love for people to think of me for a beautiful jacket they will have forever,” said the designer.