Thom Browne’s cadre of famous faces at the 2023 Met Gala, a celebration of the Costume Institute’s exhibition, ‘Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty,’ wore a masterclass in couture. His collection of black and white gowns, tuxedos, suits, and evening wear magnificently honored the career of Karl Lagerfeld, especially his tenure at Chanel, with Browne’s vocabulary overplaying definitive Chanel references with daring originality. In his fashion collection for fall winter 2023 Browne, who was recently appointed the chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, featured aliens, angels, and space travelers against a backdrop of a crashed plane, somewhere amid the solar system. After a fun run of galactic column dresses, complete with embroidery, alien-curled nails, and suitable headgear Browne took his signature work with suiting to unknown, albeit meticulously tailored, new galaxies.
In the stunning, intriguing, and complex remainder of the show, the designer dealt a winning full house hand of exaggeration. Shoulders became wider and wider, puffed up and bulky, suggesting sports uniforms and collegiate athletics. Then on to exaggerated deconstruction and masterful reconstruction. Ties, lapels, and sleeves found new places to fit perfectly in Browne’s amalgamations. Suiting fabrics were draped, and prints and plaids reversed, slashed, and stitched to challenge the construction of the fabric’s traditional linear designs.
The show began with narration from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella, The Little Prince, “It is only with the heart one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” While childlike wonder may have brought freedom to the designer this collection is nearly academic in detail. The mix of traditional suiting, high-tailoring, and creative reconstruction seems destined to define the new avant-garde here on earth.