Thom Browne Isn’t Done Reinventing Menswear

During our pre-show interview, I asked the designer about “The Raven,” his newly-acquired rambling estate, and whether NYFW needs more oversight. And, of course, I asked about his most daring men’s silhouette yet. He responded like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “It’s a ridiculously short mini dress on a guy, which looks good,” he said. “It just looks good.”

GQ: Gender isn’t a very hard idea in your work, and recently you’ve been pushing even further. “Gender-fluid” isn’t the right term exactly—it’s more like playing with archetypes of women’s clothing on men, and visa-versa.

Thom Browne: It started with the Spring-Summer 2018 show in Paris. And from then on, it’s really been about creating interesting ideas and putting them on either a man or a woman. This season, let’s see, I’m putting guys in unrealistically wide-shouldered tops and cripplingly hobbled skirts… So it’s really about taking interesting ideas from the past and bringing them to today, putting them on either a man or a woman and making them relevant for today. Especially because the world we live in is so different. Guys and girls, they don’t always want to see specifically men’s clothes or women’s clothes. With my shows, I want them to see just ideas that can be worn either by a man or a woman.

Courtesy of Thom Browne / Corey Tenold

This season a lot of men’s designers in particular have been thinking about wearability and trying to find a balance between introducing new ideas, while also delivering a lot of products that men will want to buy and wear in six months. How do you think about wearability exactly?

I veer, especially in the shows, more towards the conceptual. The ideas are more important, and then the wearability is derived from the ideas that I show. But you do see some real ideas that are more understandable in this show. I do, sometimes to a fault, want to play into opening people’s eyes more than showing them what they can wear. But you will see there is reality in the collection as well. So it’s a good mix of interestingly understandable ideas, and then some more interestingly conceptual ones.

It’s also very black and white.

It’s all black and white, playing into the story of “The Raven.”

Tell me about bringing the poem into the collection.

I think being an American designer, whether I show here in New York or if I show in Paris, it’s important to show the American sensibility in what I do, whether it’s the reference for the show or if it’s a reference in details in the clothes. Edgar Allan Poe is such an iconic American author, and also I thought the mood of the poem was right, so I wanted to play with that mood.

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