This year’s Paris Fashion Week, menswear was all over the place. The expected excitement and wow factor was met with pensive faces from International fashion critics and commentators who were all in agreeance on the lack-luster of some of the most anticipated designers collections…until Thom Browne sent his Japanese inspired suiting down the runway.
Imagine this scene; A teahouse in the middle of a field, surrounded by scarecrows in kimonos. The lighting technician would cast shadows of hawks chasing sparrows across the floor, every now and then. The ambience resembled that of a rural Japanese landscape. There’s an air of respect, artisan passion, a life time’s worth of craft and detail.
Browne painstakingly detailed his personal and devoted pieces of work through the kimonos and the suiting, using only the best manufacturers in Japan to do the work as he believed they were the only people in the world capable of such intricate detail and understanding of his obsessive undertaking.
Each suit tells a story in the broadest of ways. Every folkloric motif you might associate with Japan—the samurai sweeping his staff, dragons, cranes, chrysanthemums, Fuji, flying geese—was put together in tones of grey. The skill and craftsmanship was evident and the models slowly shuffled down the runway.
The models, with their white skin, black lips, pomaded hair, and tiny dark glasses, looked like a mad version of Mr. Anderson in The Matrix. Perhaps on his way to the black metallic abyss in the last movie of the trilogy.
Now as I always say when presenting images of couture shows – disregard the theatrics and the melodrama of the presentation, as you will never be wearing Geta sandals and Tabi socks while donning the samurai suiting presented by Thom Browne. But what is not theatrics and ‘show’, is Browne’s forceful focus on the craft of his suiting. The breathing, rippling and living artwork woven within the fibers and thread creates movement in his work that clearly sets him apart.