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Thom Browne and Rodarte: Smart Fashion Weirdos

Thom Browne and Rodarte have virtually nothing in common when you look at their clothes objectively. One collection is committed to stiff lines, living within the tense boundaries of restraint, while the other prides itself on the flexible and ethereal — delicate dresses, buttery leather, ruffles that hang so seamlessly you forget they’re there. But in the scheme of fashion week, they are quite similar.

The setting of Thom Browne’s spectacle (not even really a spectacle by the rules of fashion today) conjured the extravagant pools that speckle Slim Aarons photos. The colored tile mirrored the shades Browne used in the clothes, which were like a fashion portmanteau in that the skirt suits were actually dresses, the cardigans were actually tops and the pastel lips were actually…no, those were definitely pastel lips.

Rodarte presented its Spring collection early this afternoon and it was exactly what you’d expect it to be. Breathtaking, thoughtful and full of cool styling ideas, not the least of which was:
+Layered waist belts
+Single long earrings that attach across the chin as though to create a Croakie between the ears
+Tons of bracelets (vive l’arm party?)

The thing about both Browne and Rodarte is that they don’t quite fit into the narrative that fashion week writes for itself. They won’t make sense among the trend stories that will run; they feel less, I don’t know, stressful or rushed or grave when compared to other houses. That doesn’t detract from the clothes themselves, though. Contrary to Victoria Beckham, who shows stunning clothes but evokes little emotion, both collections satisfy you intellectually. They’re fulfilling and creative, but they’re also very much their own.

When I think about the future of fashion week and consequently the future of trends, of retail, of what will sell, I am starting to think more and more that you have to build the steady sizzle that Thom Browne and Rodarte have mastered. Without it, you’re left to burn.

Feature and carousel photographs via Getty Images; Photographs via Vogue Runway.

NYFW-SS17

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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