In fashion, we joke that certain garments or looks give us "life." And, it's true — clothes inspire visceral feelings, like that rush of power we feel when we put on a suit, or the wave of nostalgia that washes over us when we don a dress from our past. But, Thom Browne has a unique fixation on clothing in the context of death and decay; some of his past shows have been staged on elaborate sets made to look like a sanatarium, a funeral home, or a Catholic church gone goth. And, although the most recent collection he showed at New York Fashion Week was inspired by the Met's recently-closed Death Becomes Her exhibit, it was actually full of lightness and beauty.
Thom Browne is a master of theatricality — from the clothes he designs with borderline couture-levels of intricacy and detail, to his sets, which transport showgoers in a way that most staged runway shows can't ever hope to do. For this collection, Browne recreated old-time surgical floors, and used models dressed as angels and nurses to help present his all-black collection, topped with fantastical hats by milliner Stephen Jones.
We went behind the scenes of the show's setup, which began at midnight the evening before and pushed through straight to showtime at 5 p.m. You already know how much work goes into the production of a garment, but take a moment to appreciate the massive amount of work that goes into actually presenting it live.
Despite Browne's macabre sensibilities, our hyperbole always applies — his clothes really do give us life.
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