NEW YORK - There's not a lot to say about trends or the politics of the moment when talking about the Thom Browne fall 2017 collection for women. Yes, the Wednesday evening show was filled with expert tailoring, which has been on a lot of runways. And there were references to sport - from the shoes perched atop skating blades to the trousers that looked like the snow pants of your youth.
But mostly the collection was just a marvel of imagination and technique. It was all about how a designer can zero in on men's suiting fabrics, such as Harris Tweed and flannel, along with cashmere, denim and cavalry twill, to craft a collection that had the charm of a fairy tale - but filled with garments that could actually be purchased as a wearable indulgence.
Many of the pieces were not exactly what they seemed. There was translucent organza where you might have expected merino wool. Rows of tiny buttons stood in for fringe. A striped blazer was actually a patchwork of organza, cashmere and fur. A blown up houndstooth "weave" was actually hundreds of perfectly placed black and white buttons.
Serious blazers were embroidered with tiny penguins. Handbags were constructed in the shape of penguins and dogs.
And all of this unfolded in a setting depicting a frozen pond - but one crafted out of yards of cashmere and gray flannel.
Sometimes Browne takes his audience on an intellectual journey that pushes a viewer to contemplate grief, female power and stereotypes, or the anonymous grind of cubicle life. Browne continues to focus on his palette of gray, black and white - although there were some winsome pastels and jewel tones injected into this collection. He even had the assembled photographers slip on gray work coats, turning the photo riser into an extension of his tableau.
But more than anything, this collection was an exploration of what is possible. How do you take classic shapes and traditional fabrics and transform them? How do you make the familiar dazzling?
This was fashion without the use of special effects. It was the equivalent of a fantasy film that used no computer-generated imagery. Browne served as a director, whose storyboards came to life with the help of seamstresses and tailors.
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