Thom Browne A/W 09

Thom Browne’s Mad Men-influenced presentation at Pitti Immagine Uomo two weeks ago can finally be seen on video on Dazed Digital.

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Photographs by Dan Lecca and Giovanni Giannoni
There were great expectations about Thom Browne’s collection being presented for the first time in Europe during the Pitti Immagine Uomo event in Florence, but there was also a tangible fear about this talented American designer with great tailoring skills. Critics were indeed worried Browne would have opted for another fashionably crazy moment, as it happened last February at New York Fashion Week when he presented his collection in a circus-meets-asylum environment. Yet Browne managed to pleasantly surprise everybody by presenting his strikingly simple designs through an interesting performance. 

Recreating an office space in the “Aula Magna”, the main hall, of the Istituto di Scienze Militari Aeronautiche (I.S.M.A.), Browne lined up each of his 40 models next to an office desk. It wasn’t only the hairstyle and the glasses that made Browne’s models almost indistinguishable, one from the other, but also the clothes. Each of them wore the same camel coat with grosgrain profiles and grey suits with trousers that fell well above the ankle and carried the same briefcase. As a boss-like figure sitting at a main desk rang a bell, they proceeded to take off their coats and donning cardigans characterised by Browne’s trademark shrunken silhouette, they sat down and proceeded to robotically tap away on their typewriters. The lack of variation was exactly the point of Browne’s presentation as it allowed the focus to fall on the pristine white shirts, extra long yet skinny ties and well-cut trousers, and to explore the details, proportions and innovative cut of each of these garments.

The starkness of the office environment - with those vintage French 50s desks, American chrome coat hangers and Olivetti “Lettera 32” typewriter, universally considered a flawless object of modern design - also provided the perfect backdrop to Browne’s creations. The most important feature, though, was with the architecture of the building itself. Designed by Raffaello Fagnoni in 1937 and built in less than a year, the I.S.M.A. remains one of the first and best examples of Italian Rationalism in architecture. Everything is perfectly preserved in this building, even its original interior décor with its aeroplane-shaped door handles. Apparently Browne mainly chose this location for its architectural value and in a way it was impossible not to notice a connection between the identical 1,600 doors and windows featured in the building and Browne’s sharply tailored clones.  

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