Thom Browne is staring at a busy 2023, as he gets ready to take over as chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
“I can bring my experience of how I dealt with the last 20 years and the most important thing for me is that it all starts from creativity,” he said when asked about his approach. “I think here in America, sometimes we get pushed into commercializing things too quickly and that’s at the expense of creativity. I’ve been able to balance the two fairly well, so I’m going to fight the fight for creativity first, and with that commercial success will come.”
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He’s planning to show his men’s and women’s collection at New York Fashion Week in February. “I thought since I just started, it would be nice to stay in New York and fly the American flag in New York.”
A good first move.
For now, Browne is showing pre-fall, a commercially minded collection he chose to balance with creative inspiration from the classic book “Moby Dick,” which came to play in whimsical storm-ready silhouettes, seafaring embroideries, and marine mammal shaped handbags.
“I hadn’t read it since grade school, and it’s such a good story. And you don’t realize all the existing names that are in that book, like Starbuck,” the designer said.
Per usual, Browne worked with classic tweeds, tailoring and proportions, showing elongated single and double-breasted jackets with pleated skirts, and cropped sweaters or twinsets with low-waist pencil skirts for the Gen Z set. Micro minidresses made from suiting fabric also looked fresh with cable-knit Thom Browne tights and duck shoes.
Dashes of pastel pink and pale gray kept things light, as did maritime scenes rendered in beautiful toiles.
But putting aside his love of texture, embellishment and repp stripes, Browne can tailor a mean all-black look. There are a few of them in the collection, one a lady coat, micro minidress and matte black tights ensemble, and another a razor-sharp coat with pants suit, all chic as hell. Those are already in Los Angeles, and could be coming to a red carpet soon, following the brand’s succession of celebrity dressing hits.
Keeping an eye toward seasonless dressing, there was outerwear to launch in May/June, too, including down-filled overcoats in solid gray flannel or with a whale of a seafaring tale stitched on top. They were reminiscent of haute flotation devices. And the Hector bag was made over as a handsome merman.
“He’s always turned into some type of animal without my getting his approval, but he seems fine with that,” deadpanned Browne. What an agreeable dog.
Back to “Moby Dick,” and what he is most taken with in the story: “Just the brutal reality of it,” said the designer, who also showed a whale-shaped satchel.
That may not be the most auspicious message when one is about to enter a new year with economic storm clouds gathering.
“I’m always the optimist,” Browne counseled. “Even in regard to China still being closed and the stores having challenging moments there, I’m always the type to say, ‘let’s look forward to when they do open and everyone rushes to the stores.’ You can’t do much about it, so you have to just navigate through and keep everybody positive.”
Spoken like a true captain. Rah-rah.
Launch Gallery: Thom Browne Pre-Fall 2023