Thom Browne has given us three-legged pants, a wedding-dress tuxedo, and all manner of man skirts. This afternoon at his store on Hudson Street, in Tribeca, he presented once again a completely unexpected new collection: "mermaids in war paint." It may have been Browne's most provocative show to date. "It was an evolution. It was showing a lot of different shapes for me," Browne said after the show. "It's good to make people think." Suits and sweaters came emblazoned with swordfish. Models with streaks of blue on their lips marched down the runway, at one point to "Yellow Submarine." Flaps of fabric billowed out from underneath jackets as though the models had wide, flat tails. Some merely wore manties, while others were fortunate enough to have on miniskirts, though of Miley Cyrus–like proportions. The final look was a spectacular skirt-suit made entirely out of disc-size black sequins that rustled loudly as the model walked. The ominous shift in music made him seem like a Darth Vader made of fish scales.
This was Browne's first show in his store. Since it wasn't big enough for a backstage area, the models readied for the runway in a space two blocks away and then entered from the sidewalk outside, accruing a gaggle of passersby and tourists whose expressions ranged from amused to horrified. In fact, they had the best seat in the house: The models lined up for the finale outside, on the sidewalk, which was cordoned off from civilians by black velvet rope. "The main motivation wasn't to show it on the street, though," Browne explained. "It was more to be able to use the space, and we just had no other way of doing it." After the show, editors stormed Browne's publicist, asking her to set aside certain pieces for them. Mermaid warriors are officially in for spring 2010.
View a slideshow of the Thom Browne show.