29/01/2013 § 2 Comments
I’ll admit it, I’d written off Thom Browne. My love for his menswear designs notwithstanding, I tended to find his collections for women severely lacking, year after year. We had knee-length pearl necklaces one year, unwalkable skirts another, and an alarming affinity for shirt dresses that appeared to be stolen from a Dickensian orphanage. Browne’s designs for women appeared to be more costume than clothing, as if he wasn’t quite sure he could pull off a serious collection — so he didn’t bother to try (see: Fall/Winter 2011; Spring/Summer 2013) So I resigned myself to enjoying Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers, which takes the inventive, tailored qualities favored by Browne (and me!) but adds a high dose of wearability — it is a Brooks Brothers line, after all — and forgot about Thom Browne.
That is, until January 21, 2013 — the morning of Barack Obama’s second inauguration. I heard murmurs that the Obama women were sporting a set of beautiful coats, but when Eric Wilson of the NYT mentioned something about bespoke Thom Browne, made especially for the First Lady, I made a beeline for the television to see the gorgeous silk jacquard — inspired by necktie fabrics, natch — for myself. The whole family looked lovely, but Michelle’s coat/dress ensemble was definitely the pièce de résistance.
It was in that moment I began to hope that Thom Browne had finally changed course, and I am happy to say that his 2013 Pre-Fall collection has confirmed it. No longer bogged down with clever tricks and over-the-top conceptualism, Browne’s 2013 Pre-Fall is actually wearable and smartly tailored, but still retains the tongue-in-cheekiness quality that is classic Browne. I’m not sure what inspired this sudden maturity, but I’m loving it — to say that I’m excited would be a massive understatement. My American Express card on the other hand…probably a little less so. But I’m sure we’ll get through it together.
All images via Thom Browne.
23/01/2012 § 2 Comments
Taking design inspiration from the mid-century American college student isn’t particularly innovative these days. In fact, it can sometimes seem like designers are perennially stuck in those hallowed years between childhood and adulthood, where the most pressing matters of the day are studying for a midterm or rushing the right house. Particularly if said years are spent in one of the more storied institutions, such as the colleges of the Ivy League. This was perhaps most recently and significantly evidenced by the recent reissue and popularity of Teruyoshi Hayashida’s 1965 book Take Ivy, a collection photographs of Ivy style, and its appearance in bookstores and J.Crew stores alike.
But here is where we shall take a step back, because we should note that the conversation above is truly about men and menswear (and perhaps menswear-influenced womenswear by extension). When was the last time we’ve seen the college coed honored, and not as a caricature — not as a girl in boy’s clothing — but truly female? Honestly, I cannot recall, sadly. Which is why the Jil Sander Pre-fall 2012 collection is so exciting to me.
For Jil Sander, designer Raf Simons has honored the collegiate woman. Not content to merely reproduce — the quagmire that menswear frequently finds itself mired in — Simons’s reinvention of familiar forms is refreshing and startlingly well-executed, especially in the case of outerwear. The presentation of the designs in a campaign that echoes Hayashida’s photographs, in group portraits that recall sororities and ladies’ clubs, is a stroke of genius and I couldn’t resist pulling up a few real ones. You know me.