Reviving a piece of couture fashion history, we present an exclusive trunk show with the celebrated American designer Thom Browne, in which we give you the opportunity to pre-order a range of exclusive spring/summer '13 show pieces, direct from the Paris Fashion Week presentation, as Thom intended.
We travelled to Paris to work closely with the Thom Browne team as they prepared for their spring/summer '13 presentation. Alongside the exclusive product, we also have images from the show, and an interview with the man himself (see below).
"It's great" says Thom, talking about the trunk show. "I like people appreciating what I do and it's the world we live in now; everything is much more immediate."
Two things are certain with a Thom Browne show: the first is that it will be a spectacle, the the second is that he will make your wait. True to form, after a prolonged pause two glittering silver fawns, complete with metallic ram's legs and playing recorders, entered the garden courtyard of the Maison de la Chimie, accompanied by the haunting harmonica theme from Sergio Leone's classic spaghetti western, Once Upon a Time in The West.
Thom Browne shows usually take you to new and exciting worlds but this was the final frontier. Next models shuffled into the courtyard encased in silver tubes before taking their place above pre-positioned pairs of Thom Browne brogues, each cast in gleaming sci-fi sliver. Then, as if teleporting down to earth like aliens from a mid-1960s episode of Star Trek, the models simultaneously dropped their cylinders to reveal the collection beneath. SS13 had landed.
As ever with Thom's work, the collection is an exploration of 1960 Americana, aiming to capture the spirit of the golden (in this case silver) age of American clothing.
"Everything is based on that classic grey suit", said Thom, "which is where it all started." The grey suit is Thom's muse and his everyday uniform; today he wears it with sharply tailored shorts. But while the cuts and proportions may be the same - short cropped jackets, exposed ankles, and flat-fronted trousers - this collection is an exploration of fabric. That fabric is madras, and as the models teleported into the courtyard the audience were hit by a wall of bright colours and vibrant checks.
The grey suit is Thom's muse and also his everyday uniform;
today he wears it with sharply tailored shorts
The space cowboy beginning was, by Thom's own admission, designed as a talking point. "I like to surround it [the collection] with a fantasy and a story" he said, "to entertain, to make that grey suit more interesting each season, and to let people leave with a smile on their face."
But no matter how strange things got, with Thom everything is deliberate and considered. Encoded within the sci-fi theatrics of the opening exchanges, there was a link to a key piece from the collection that was a nod to Thom's childhood.
"Each collection starts differently, says Thom, "This one did start with the silver shoes, which was actually a very personal reference. I came from a big family and my mother, when I was growing up, silver plated all of our first shoes, so I basically took the shoe I wear everyday now and silver plated that."
"I came from a big family and my mother,
when I was growing up, silver plated all of our first shoes,
so I basically took the shoe I wear everyday now and silver plated that."
This overt reference to his childhood can be read as another deliberate message. In our recent interview with Paul Smith, Paul talked about the need to look at things in a childlike way. To keep things fresh a designer must adopt the ever-questioning approach of a child. In the playschool primary colours and bright checks of Thom's collection you can see this same spirit and childlike wonder at work.
It is also visible in other recurring theme of the collection: a series of lobster and whale motifs that could have been lifted from a child's colouring book. There were whales of every kind: jacquard whales, jewel incrusted whales, embroidered whales, whales made from tiny mirrors. The same was true of the lobsters.
"It's a very American preppy reference" said Thom. We asked if there was added significant. "I just wanted whales and lobsters", he says with a smile.
For Thom suiting is fun, suiting is playful,
suiting is smart and it is casual.
This playful attitude is what defines Thom's spring/summer '13 collection, and his work on the whole. While suiting in Britain has traditionally been embodied by the prim and proper world of Savile Row, Thom presents a cheeky and confident take that is distinctly American. The suit is his medium of expression and sometimes, so it happens, that expression takes the form of cartoon whales and bejewelled lobsters.
For Thom suiting is fun, suiting is playful, suiting is smart and it is casual. We finish by asking him if suiting can be rebellious. "Everything should be a little bit rebellious", he says.