It seems fitting to be siting in a "cafe" here in Amsterdam writing about a few collections I looked at before catching my flight. The one that seems most appropriate to consider in this den of iniquity is Thom Browne. Reading some choice assessments in a number of press outlets commented that it ran the gamut from A to B. One that particularly caught me eye was from the New York Times saying something to the affect that it was deeply felt and compassionate towards women.Granted,that's loosely stated but the word "compassionate" really astounded. Still there were others who loved it for its forward thinking and Browne's fearlessness in a system of the safe and the same. These clothes brought to mind an asylum filled with inmates dressed in get ups that were nothing more than riffs on the work of deceased or disgraced designers:designers like Galliano, McQueen.Their clothes moved, transporting you to worlds of fantasy,forever changing your way of looking at fashion. Even the most avantgarde, romantic and fantastical came from a place of passion and conviction. Thom Browne's vision lacks both unless you one equates his dogged attempts at profundity and cleverness as passion and his unrelenting repetition of the unwearable as conviction.
Looking at Thom Browne's collection was not at all the same experience as a McQueen or Galliano collection. technique was no more evident than fresh ideas of shape or context. Other than an obvious effort and plenty of creative energy his woman looked little more than a costumed Miss Havisham attempting to overcome her agoraphobia. This woman with her bird's nest hair and slathered, smeared scarlet lips is little more than a costumed actress in a make believe locked ward. The tortured fabric with decoupaged lace swatches that look glued in place like a child's arts and crafts project are all affixed to a rotating silhouette of long sleeved, arched shouldered dresses and suits that hobble the model impeding movement.
High waisted hourglass shapes recalling a looser, modern Victorian period with bonded lace sleeveless "coats" over knife pleated organza skirts with blouses, rice powdered faces, black-lensed white spectacles and the de-rigeur snood all made for a silly picture of a confused inmate. Perhaps its all the attention Dior is getting with their rehash and re-do of the now banal Bar jacket, that Mr. Browne feels compelled to shape the hips of jackets and skirts, cutting them on the round as some who know a thing or two about "couture shapes",which makes this such a tiresome exercise.
The front end of the collection is heavily weighted in white lace on white organza with pearl buttons and bug net snoods. When he shifts gears to the bonded white plaid matellasse with china blue pattern and layered laytex, the clothes take on a clinical aspect not too unlike blow-up dolls that satify hje fetishes of a select few. Maybe that's what the NY Times meant by "compassionate". Crackled black/white jackets that looked too much like Wang's Balenciaga but tarted up in an Elizabethan way were just more ho to his hum.
I have to say some of the dresses and jackets were feats of construction but to what end? The most intriguing aspect of the show was the crazed banshee models with their teased hair and red smeared mouths.The bags held by the models by one handle and spilling open at a dangerous angle was a clever, humorous touch. The same could be said for the rigor mortis strands of pearls around the necks of the ladies. Mostly,I love a locked ward scenario especially when it's peopled by the unholy offspring of Baby Jane Hudson.