NEW YORK -- Having seen two models at two different presentations in the last 24 hours faint (and I mean hit the floor hard), the idea of beauty and sacrifice has been on my brain this New York Fashion Week. (I mean, really, are we putting women on a pedestal here or degrading them?)
Then, I walked into Thom Browne's runway show space, which is always a thought-provoking experience. It was set up to look like a church with candles, crosses and rows of pews for guests to sit in. We are all worshiping at the altar of fashion all right.
And for what? Well, for the kind of beauty that Browne showed us. As Marc Jacobs said in the show notes for his final Louis Vuitton collection in October, "beauty for beauty's sake."
The look: The first look was a black-and-white, ecclesiastical-looking robe, but then the spareness began to give way to Browne's will. His tailoring skills were on full display on suits with rounded silhouettes, sleeves that evoked angel wings, and skirts with nipped-in waists and exaggerated hips that had an Old Hollywood vibe. Outerwear was also striking -- capes with interesting textures and folds. And the golden goddess finale looks were magnificent.
Throughout the collection, the fabrics were ungodly beautiful -- cut velvet stripes, floral jacquards, and gold burnout velvet and embroidery reminiscent of burnished gilt. In between the impressive crinolins and hourglass volumes, a couple of pieces really shined -- one, a sharply cut blazer with cape sleeves that will be the bread-and-butter of the collection on the selling floor, and another, the final dress, a slouchy gold chemise style that was pure louche luxe.
The verdict: One of the few designers in New York who takes chances, Browne is a fashion maverick. And thank goodness there are still some. His collections will always be high concept, but this season, it was more possible than ever to see the commercial potential of certain pieces. Amen.