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  • Syahira Bird

Thom Browne Fall 2023 Couture Collection

Known for all things fantasy, outlandish, and pure creativity, Thom Browne has truly created a design world like none other. Especially in the American market, where commercialism runs rampant, Browne has torn down the idea that wearability cannot have whimsicality. With voluminous, deconstructed silhouettes merged with impeccable tailoring, the grandeur of it all is far from the line of gimmicky, a balance that even the most experienced designers can have difficulty mastering.

To the strains of Visage’s “Fade to Grey,” Alek Wek walked up the aisle and onto the stage wearing—what else—a gray Thom Browne jacket and kilt. She sat on a pile of gray luggage, and things commenced around her. There were Thom Browne gray suits and coats in multitudes, all strictly narrow in silhouette, but each almost a vignette in itself.

There were patchworks of small country town landscapes, and seasides with sailboats. There were elaborate brocades, Prince of Wales checks, coats and short-suits embroidered with silver and gold sequined stripes. One coat had a pattern of 3D clouds woven into it.

The star of the show was none other than the model Alek Wek, who stood on an imaginary train platform on the stage of the Palais Garnier. According to Browne, she stars as a woman who is contemplating her life and how she hasn’t always appreciated what she’s had, as paper spectators in gray suits watched from the opera’s seats facing the audience. The show culminated in the vision of fantasy of what her life actually is—and how she’s happy. Perhaps the underlying thesis was also slightly autobiographical. Here is a designer who was recently named the CFDA chairman and set to celebrate 20 years in the business—which started with a gray suit and spiraled out into a fantasy of collections that have included the likes of high-fashion takes on lobsters, Cinderella, the Little Prince, and no shortage of pieces that have mirrored everything from twisted toys to baseballs.


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