Thom Browne Spring 2017 Menswear Collection
The last is far more entrancing that the first—when you realize Browne is laughing with you, rather than you at him (or, perhaps, vice versa). And so it was for Spring, when Browne decided life was a beach and unleashed one of the wittiest, most memorable, and certainly most bizarre runway stagings of his entire career. Considering they’ve previously involved gilded fauns, menageries of animals and hyperinflated Elmer Fudd lookalikes, and male flappers in Maxim’s, that’s a tall order.
Here was the scene: a post-apocalyptic beach of black sand, gray palm tree, and a lounging sunbather in a tight zippered wet suit, like a black-and-white movie still. John Williams’s ominous Jaws theme began to play, and a model in a black suit—drop-crotch pants, jacket with a dorsal fin attached, head hidden under a leather shark mask—perambulated out and circled the set. No word of a lie. Then a bunch of shark-attack-ready models waddled out in Fatty Arbuckle onesies, plodding to take their place about the tree. A quick zip and, like a cheap infomercial before and after, the corpulence literally peeled right off, to reveal spangled short suits, tailcoats, and overcoats in brilliant, poolside cocktail shades of orange sorbet, cassata, and piña colada, in fur or tweed or hibiscus flower laces with embroideries of surfboards, and islands, and sharks.
Speaking of which, the aforementioned great white was still circling ominously (read: hilariously). At some point, a few seagulls joined him—men in feather-crusted shorts suits and beaked Stephen Jones headpieces, flapping their wings like angels in a preschool nativity play.
You couldn’t help but grin, the models then stripping off for a second time, revealing each ensemble to be a fused trompe l’oeil, like a snug wet suit, a reveal worthy of a winning RuPaul’s Drag Race main-stage lip sync, and just as camp. Underneath each wore a retro-style bathing suit in an eye-popping Lilly Pulitzer–style print. Oh, at some point a couple of macaws joined in. Who knows when, or why. The damn shark was still circling.