Thom Browne on the Art of Repurposing

GUESTS at Thom Browne’s runway show during the New York Fashion Week entered a Chelsea gallery from the snow-dusted streets of New York. Inside they found, well, the snow-dusted streets of New York. But it was the New York of the 1920s, and the location was Washington Square Park, meticulously recreated down to the houses surrounding it, which were sketched on the gallery’s walls.

Thom-BrowneA succession of intriguingly dressed women came to stroll under the streetlamps in this park. They wore elegant combinations of coats, jackets and skirts, all bearing the very detailed tailoring that Browne is famous for. But increasingly, it was obvious that these outfits had been deconstructed and then reconstructed as something else.

A jacket could be seen in its new incarnation as part of a skirt. The fur-trimmed arms of a coat became part of a dress. Sleeves could be seen hanging artfully from a waistline.

Despite all the art involved, the theme was actually quite practical. “It’s really taking your existing clothing and making new clothing out of it,” Browne said afterward. “Really reappropriating. You buy beautiful clothes and they’re such good quality that you don’t want to throw them away, you just want to reappropriate them into something new.”

Like any Browne show, there was some wonderfully whimsical headgear, in this case repurposed neckties. Men’s ties were refashioned into tiny sculptures — much like fascinators — looping in different ways around the head.

“So many people run away from wearing a tie, because they think it’s so constricting,” Browne said. “So I wanted to give it to the girl in a way that wasn’t constricting at all.”

Since this was a park, of course, there were dogs, but these came in the form of handbags — actual canine-shaped bags — akin to Browne’s earlier whale bags. There was also a mechanical dog, and, actually, a few real dogs who made it into the showroom, too — though they stuck to the sidelines. One of them, a year-old dachshund, belonged to the designer himself. (AP)

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