During the last Fashion Week in Paris, everybody was waiting for Thom Browne. The American designer, born in Pennsylvania, is known for his grey suits with shrinked proportions. In 2006, the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded him as Best Designer of the year. He was showing in New York and he decided to present his show also in Paris for the first time, at the Communist Party futurist venue in place Colonel-Fabien. Who was waiting for an original mise en scène was satisfied. Browne has made a dozen of spacemen landing the stage, inspired by « 2001 Space Oddyssey ». Browne wants to renew the suits and the American formal style.
What was your way into fashion? You were intending to be an actor: Is fashion for you linked to performing, acting, playing a role?
Thom Browne : "I did try acting soon after college, but I pretty much wore something similar to what I wear now all my life. But back in those days, I bought vintage suits (since for most people that's what they got rid of when they moved to LA) and have a tailor cut them down to look something like what I do now, but eventually I wanted something 'new' to wear. Once I realized that the acting was not going to work out for me, I moved back to NY and the jobs I happened to land were fashion related. But the beginning of Thom Browne was in my apartment, when I started out with just 5 suits which I wore, and I basically got my clients via word of mouth before I officially started in 2003 with a small ready-to-wear collection."
Why did you decide to show your highly expected men’s collection in Paris for the first time?
T.B: " I had been wanting to show in Paris for a while now, but logistically (timing wise to get my samples ready earlier, since Paris men's fashion week is much earlier than NY fashion week) and financially it was not possible. I always felt that from a creative point of view as well as a business point of view it would be important for me to show in Paris for exposure.
Paris men's fashion week is dedicated to menswear for one, and it is THE place where innovation and creativity in fashion is revered. But showing and selling the collection during the Paris fashion week also allows me to expand my distribution/selling points on a global level."
Did you want to mark the spirits of the professionals in showing your astronauts from “Space Oddity” in order to conquer the European market?
T.B: " I wanted to show the true American spirit in my collection and this time I chose the astronaut suits to express this."
How would you describe your very particular style of narrow and shrunk suits?
T.B: " This (the suit that Thom wears and that has become synonymous to the Thom Browne name) is what I think looks good. I often say that I am inspired by the spirit of the 50's and the 60's in the US because I feel that there was a distinct and identifiable American sensibility at that time. So what I do, the short jacket, the shorter high-waist trouser is not a literal interpretation of what they wore at that time, but it's that sense of individuality and effortless sensibility that I wanted to express in my clothes."
You once said (in the magazine “New York”): «I feel like Jeans and a T-Shirt have become establishment. Everyone is dressed down » Why do you want resist to the dominant casual look of jeans and sneakers with your preppy suits and your formal chic?
T.B: " It's always been my nature to want to do something against the norm. But mainly I wanted to appeal to people who had pre-conceived notions of tailored suits as something that their grandfather wore, and to re-expose to young (minded) people that wearing suits can be a cool thing."
How would you like to renew the man’s clothes? How do you see the general evolution of today’s men esthetics?
T.B: " I also feel that we have gotten too much about disposable clothing, and I wanted to show the importance of quality, how well made things can look and last. So it's not about quantity but quality."
Which are your main influences (for ex. the early 60ies, the Midwest, the military, preppy college boys) and where do they come from?
T.B: " I am often inspired by people I see on the street. And the spirit of the 50's and 60's as I mentioned earlier. People who have that true individual effortless style."
Which style will show your first female collection in autumne? Will it be very 60ies as well?
T.B: " My women's collection is very much about the spirit of tailoring as well, and many of the styles are derived from my men's collection."