Thom Browne: Dressing the Raptors for Versailles
An 18th century revival at Thom Browne this season; a Louis XIV moment enjoyed by a host of groovers, most notably Serge Ibaka, star of the new NBA basketball champions, the Toronto Raptors.
In the latest performance art show by Browne on Saturday afternoon, the key theme was the majesty of athletes meeting the academic oil painting and architecture of Charles Le Brun. Expressed as soon as one walked in the door of the Beaux Arts, where eight models were poised like modernist statues from 'The Draughtsman’s Contract'.
Except these eight live models were dressed in seersucker – rose, mink, lime and lilac – enormous figures, with 1.50-meter shoulders.
Though the star of the season was actually James Whiteside, principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre, who put in a magnificent display of ballet along the marble floors of the Beaux Arts. He wore a plissé mini kilt and trompe-oeil New England seersucker jacket, waistcoat and tie. Following him were two seersucker-attired harpies wearing cut out American football helmets. Their job: to undress the statues, revealing more conventional seersucker suits beneath.
Eventually the full cast took their turn: in deconstructed crinolines, worn with codpieces (a tricky combo certainly), giant raglan-shouldered cricket blazers; enormous wicket-keeper cable sweaters; and posh piped redingotes with fabric buttons. All marching on wingtip high-heels in matching sherbet colors.
Another far-out Thom Browne show that one could easily see distilled into commercial looks. In a front row crammed with buyers, and an ebullient Gildo Zegna, the new patron of the house; and clan leader of the largest high-quality producer of men’s fabrics and apparel in Italy.
"We love Thom’s imagination; and we also like that a lot of the clothes are made of our Zegna fabrics," said Gildo, noting that a good deal of the seersucker was made of wool – and not cotton or linen – making it less likely to crease, and much better to travel.
Which Louis XIV, who spent his six decades of his reign expanding France’s borders, would have appreciated.
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