A rickety elevator up to the venue. A tableau of models posed as garden statues on a manicured green, some of them wilting from leg cramps due to a show delay. All manner of madcap hats, including one shaped like a shuttlecock and another like a sail.
The setup for the Thom Browne show Monday was awash in the kind of fashion week clichés the world loves to laugh at. But as usual, there was method to the designer's madness.
The scene: When the show began, so did the story -- a narrated tale of six sisters and their fashion preferences (on Mondays, they start out in tailoring; by the weekends, they prefer to be naked.)
Through the garden, models strolled in Browne's signature tailoring, with heightening floral motifs and surface treatments.
The look: Garden party on acid.
Key pieces: Cropped pants, suit jackets, vests and top coats in candy-stripe seersucker, with swirling patterns, reflective rainbow stripes or overgrown floral blooms. Shift dresses, pleated skirts and boxy cardigan jackets in pop-arty prints or gingham checks. Hats shaped like dress forms and wire handbags.
The verdict: It was impossible not to be blown away by the workmanship. A skirt and top were embroidered all over in sequins arranged in a floral pattern. A ladylike suit was covered in feathers quivering on their quills. And a coat was coated in colorful feathers, painstakingly arranged in a floral motif. What made this collection particularly good, though was the number of wearable pieces. Browne was able to distill his vision into something noticeably commercial without compromising it.