Thom Browne’s spring/summer 2014 menswear show took place at l’École Militaire, architecturally iconic military school in central Paris.
Browne, a designer renowned for designs both fantastic and fantastical, took military tailoring and ornamentation as his collection’s starting point — and developed the theme to a place sure to haunt “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” repeal opponents’ dreams. Nightmares, really. Dark, dark nightmares that are quite possibly a little bit arousing but you can’t tell anyone about that because then “the homosexual agenda” has won again.
Besides, how can our armies keep us safe if they’re taking breaks in the trenches to re-apply their lipstick? (A quick point of clarification: that’s a wholly facetious question.)
2. The show opened with two models stomping up and down the catwalk in red, white and blue leather ensembles, to that tune the Flying Monkeys march to in The Wizard of Oz.
They then spent the remainder of the show standing in these nicely-wallpapered boxes, like the guards outside a royal palace, perhaps — just far more glamorous. Bearskin hats are out, and feathered ones are, like, so in.
3. Browne’s well-dressed regiment then walked in the fanciest, finest takes on military attire since cavalry charges died out.
4. Look at the lovely frilly socks here.
5. Look at the lovely lace detailing on those shorts.
6. Look at the lovely bright red lipstick, which matches the sharply-tailored military jacket just so.
7. Look at this lovely sleeveless frock coat and it’s quintessentially Thom Browne striped lining.
Enjoyable bonus: if you look at the sleeveless coat, you’ll also spot some biceps.
8. Look at the lovely, jaunty gold buttons around this jacket’s nipped, high waist. Very flattering.
9. Look at the lovely, no, fabulous embroidered anchors.
(Liberace wished his chauffeurs looked this good, minus the not-actually-cameltoe-but-looks-like-it groin creasage.)
10. And look at these lovely, billowy flared pants.
Yes, there are ruffly petticoat-style layers underneath.
11. Also, take a closer look at the crystalline embroidered anchors here too.
12. Pick a detail, any detail. They’re all fabulous.
13. And the floppy fan pleating here in lieu of traditional military shoulderpad finery is fantastic.
14. Sure, you can’t actually have thighs if you want to wear these pants and not look like a pair of baby belugas are clinging to your waistline, but that’s ok.
15. Oh yes, and the models’ makeup: flawless. Keeping foundation that smooth on a hot day in Paris is no small feat, either.
16. Again, flawless. (The makeup and that jawline.)
This could be a poster for post-DADT recruitment that would strike fear into the heart of anti-gay activists across the land.
17. OSTRICH FEATHERS HAPPENED.
And the fashion world was a better place for them having happened. I seriously can’t get over how amazing this collection is.
18. Once all the looks had walked, the models stood to attention in what’s most definitely the most passing out parade ever.
You will also notice their chunky boots have chunky heels. You will notice this, and you will like it.
19. You might just be passing out from the level of high-camp glamour on display, in fact.
Or from the heat — by the end of the show I couldn’t quite tell if I’d worked up a sweat from the biting social commentary on hand, or from the fact that the runway took place outside on a very hot Parisian afternoon.
But the show wasn’t quite over.
Thank goodness. I wish it had never ended, and that I’d be attending flouncy West Point cadets’ balls with the runway models forever and ever and always slow dancing to songs by Taylor Swift.
20. A model in a formal frock coat and veritable pantaloons walked out, carrying a folded piece of white silk reverentially. The two models pictured below were tasked with carrying his coat’s train.
(Said heavily embroidered train was a solid 4-5 feet long.)
21. To the tune of The Beatles hit “All You Need is Love,” the trio then raised a white flag.
Who’s supposed to be surrendering (and to whom) is a topic open for discussion.
22. The models remained standing to attention for, as has become a trend in Paris this season, showgoers to take close-up photos of the looks.
Considering the incredible level of detail in both tailoring and decoration visible, the opportunity was a treat. Browne’s work transcends the boundaries between fashion and art, even as it’s all too often sidelined as campy/outlandish.
23. Case in point: the brocade trim here.
24. This is my favorite of the amateur photography post-show, because the tech guy snapping away here just looks so bemused by it all.
Oh, and let’s not forget the requisite “look at me posing with my model BFFs” selfie.
This sort of thing needs to stop.
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