Fashion has a reputation for being deranged. Iconic designers such as Lee McQueen have flirted with the concept of insanity in their collections (VOSS), and Vogue recently featured an editorial on the eccentric Helena Bonham Carter, best-known for playing disturbed villains such as Bellatrix Lestrange and the Red Queen. Thom Browne is also known for creating collections that clearly differentiate themselves from those of his contemporaries - his last collection, for example, managed to revamp the houndstooth and harlequin checks that were last heavily in vogue way back in 2010. It comes as no real surprise, then, that Browne went completely, deliriously over-the-top with this glorious collection - a true reminder that Fashion Week is escapism at its best.
The show opened with a beautiful white latex look - a cropped white jacket with white PVC boots and a long latex skirt, of which only the hem was visible underneath a structured white pencil skirt with exaggerated hips. The first few looks continued in the same vein - the make-up was polished, the matching white sunglasses were chic and the hairnets were pristine. The clothes themselves were also all white, but the range of texture was overwhelming - from lace detailing through to latex coats and bouclé jackets, the looks all centred around the same Elizabethan silhouette, ruffs and all.
As the show progressed, the make-up grew smudged and the hairnets went from virgin white to blood red - it was clear we had entered the asylum. Models struggled down the runway with vertiginous hair and their handbags wide open, and the proportions of the looks seemed to follow suit. The strict hourglass silhouette was replace with a series of narrow high-neck dresses - one of the most striking dresses of the collection saw a dress which seemed to be painted with an elaborate whirling oyster, an undeniably beautiful pattern injected with an element of decay from the cracked, peeling paint effect.
The collection also seemed to be heavily influenced by artists such as Botticelli, with the seashell and the oyster being two of the most frequently referenced looks. However, the subversive nature of the latex led some to question whether or not the oysters were meant to be phallic - certainly there seemed to be a sexual undertone to the collection, sometimes as literal as a nude-coloured dress whose folds seemed to mimic the female genitalia.
Despite the heavy concept and eccentric presentation of the collection, Browne stuck to the fashion formula and closed his show with a stone-cold stunner. A floor-length gown fused white lace (designed to mimic the structure of a sea anemone) with heavily-pleated whirls which cascaded down the length of the dress. Many designers have tried their hand at clothing influenced by what goes on under the sea, but few have managed to translate the inspiration into a collection so varied, so beautiful and so effective. By creating a collection with layered meanings, strong aesthetic and (most importantly) genuinely stunning clothing, Browne has cemented his reputation as one of the hottest designers in the world.