Thom Browne Fall 2022 Ready-to-Wear Collection

At his fall 2022 runway show—scheduled for today to better couple with his partner Andrew Bolton’s “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute—Thom Browne presented a concise, unwavering narrative: This collection is about New York as “an island of misfit toys” and the way people come to the city “to find themselves and to create themselves,” he said. The first 24 looks were “realistic” versions of Browne’s tailoring, the second 24 were their “conceptual” partners, plumped up and wacky-fied to express the individuality and authenticity of self-expression. It was presented as a Ted Talk—cue the pun—led by model Rocky Harwell dressed as a Thom Browne teddy bear to an audience of stuffed teddies in little Thom Browne suits. The human guests framed the perimeter.

Watch a video of the show and the message will read loud and clear: We are all weirdos who can present as passable normies, letting our creativity fester beneath the surface. Bringing one’s authentic self to the party and being accepted as that authentic version of one’s self is good. “It’s so nice when you find your true self and you stay true to that,” Browne said before the show. You can see why the idea would appeal: Over the course of his near-20 year career he has had to justify time and again that his succinct, extreme vision is worth caring about. Even today, as guests trickled out, many balked at something so bizarre and kooky happening on a Friday night in New York. To which I must say: Maybe you should get out more. It’s ironic, too, that for all his specificity, he is out-earning the vast majority of brands that present runway shows in America, clocking $263 million in revenue in 2021. Proof that being your authentic self really pays off.

Browne’s authentic self is always about the gray wool suit. For fall, he has created his New York-iest version yet, letting a little air in via boxy long jackets with repp stripe piping, straight leg cuffed trousers, and voluminous pleated skirts. Compare them to the miniscule corsets and teensy suits some guests wore in the front row, and see that these are some of his most freeing shapes—and were it not for the high platforms on models’ feet they could have sprinted down the runway like they were running to catch the J train. With clashing schoolhouse colors fanning out in the pleats of a skirt and mis-matched socks, it qualified as cute.


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