The positive vibes that Thom Browne injected in his Resort 2017 collection earlier on in June extended onto his S/S 2017 menswear collection showcased yesterday afternoon in Paris.
Before the show started there was actually a sad moment when the designer asked from the backstage to remember Bill Cunningham, the legendary New York Times photographer who died on Saturday.
Then the spectacle started with a model in a black cropped suit, a fin on his back and a leather shark mask who, on the theme for Steven Spielberg's Jaws, started circling the set, consisting in a fake beach of glittering black sand and a gray palm tree.
Models in gigantic gray suits symbolized maybe a shark attack, but soon they unzipped the cumbersome onesies as if they were wetsuits to reveal short suits, tailcoats, and trench coats in summery shades.
At times the garments were covered in embroideries of three-dimensional flowers, sharks, surfboards and islands or were highlighted by (slightly Courrèges-que) profiles in green, red and yellow; in other cases the jackets came in grass green mink, tweed and raffia.
One pair of trousers had bits and pieces missing, a zigzagging hemline was left in their place almost to symbolize that the model had an encounter with the sharks, but had miraculously managed to escape.
Then models dressed as seagulls and parrots joined the spectacle in suits covered in white or multi-coloured feathers and beaked Stephen Jones headdresses and masks.
There was another trick here, though, revealed when the models wearing the cropped suits unzipped the designs once again in a cartoonish way to reveal they were actually trompe l'oeil "skins" hiding beneath vintage looking knitted bathing suits in vibrantly coloured floral motifs (with matching socks and shoes).
Browne was indeed trying to replicate the idea behind a wetsuit, applying it to an entire wardrobe and therefore fusing more than three or four garments into one.
The swimming suits were accessorized with custom-made Thom Browne surfboards that will also be on sale come next season (the matching surfboard is becoming a bit of a trend for fashion designers producing swimwear, see also Cynthia Rowley).
It was not impossible to try and make sense of all the laughable shenanigans and showmanship as the narration with the black clad shark cruising the set may have pointed towards the greed currently ruling the world.
Yet again maybe it was just about fun, after all there was the same degree of silliness here that also characterized the Resort 2017 collection with its impractical pumps with heels shaped like spouting whales, anchors and boats, and, who knows, maybe the palette for the menswear designs with those cocktail shades of peach, green and lime was borrowed, like the Resort palette, from the saturated mid-century Americana images the designer found in magazines such as Time or Life.
As the Beach Boys played on, you realised this was bizarre, colourful and surreal, but maybe it was also a way to lift the morale after a bland menswear week shaken by the Brexit results.
Yes, West Coast fantasia and California Dreamin' may not be the answers to the Brexit and the chaos that followed its announcement, but it provided a moment of madness and half an hour of distraction to the fatigued and worried fashion crowds thinking about how their jobs may be affected in a Europe that seems to be shrinking more and more like a Thom Browne suit.
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