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Among the heavyweights in the realm of American menswear, Thom Browne’s 2010 spring RTW collection was recently presented amidst some mixed reviews. Browne’s 2010 spring collection was subject to strong objections in regards to effeminate nature of the designs as the show was presented in a barebones style at the Thom Browne flagship store in TriBeCa. While some pieces were perhaps on the feminine side largely in the bottoms’ department, nevertheless there were some good pieces to report regarding some of the coats and outerwear.
Perhaps it’s a credit to Browne that after the past several years of smashing taboos — first with the exposed ankles and the shrunken suits, then the more extreme proportions, the femininity, the straitlaced perversity and the fascist conformity — these tropes failed to shock or amuse this time around.
The showmanship, simply not up to Browne’s level, was partly to blame. There was no choreography, no set design, no theme, just a simple procession through Browne’s bare TriBeCa store. Without that extra food for thought, the clothes could not escape judgment. And the kitchen-sink styling only strengthened the final analysis: The clothes were ridiculous. What else can you conclude about a neoprene mini-skort? Or a polka-dotted halter romper? Add the lipstick, and it’s officially a drag show.
To be influential in men’s wear is to innovate and surprise while still meeting the formal requirements of the medium, of the body, of a life. Browne knows it because he exerted that kind of power once, with his iconic cropped suit. It’s an elusive accomplishment, let alone to repeat. But to make unwearable art that takes no account of the wearer’s dignity is only dodging the challenge.