Thom Browne Spring 2023 Menswear Fashion Show Review
By Mark Wittmer
In Spring 2023, Thom Browne added another particularly playful chapter to his signature questioning of menswear’s formal traditions, injecting flirtations with campiness and punk into his familiar couture wardrobe.
The parade began with a kind of practical joke as a woman dressed head to toe in Thom Browne (not unusual on one of his parades, as his many fans are very engaged – it seems that if you wear Thom Browne, you wear Thom Browne) walked down the track, loudly apologizing for being so late and looking for his seat. A fashion faux pas for sure, until this event is repeated five times.
This ironic, self-aware act of breaking the fourth wall set the tone for a collection that gleefully infused provocation into what is perhaps the least provocative thing in clothing: classic men’s suits.
Roughly woven tweed (a nod or send off to Chanel, perhaps?) in showy Easter egg colors (in addition to the more expected white, red and blue) was the signature fabric of the collection, taking shape through coats and also-small TB blazers often with unfinished hems and edges or loose threads-a noticeable departure from its typical sharpness. The colors felt deliberately campy, throwing off our expectations of the designer’s austere signature grey, particularly combined with the rawer nature of the finish. Gender fluidity is nothing new for Thom Browne, and this season in particular has seen a number of skirts, dresses and even a bikini top.
But certainly the most provocative aspect of the collection was its sense of exposition. What looked like the collection’s key design idea were its bottoms: low-waisted pants, shorts and skirts held up by built-in jockstraps that offered a tantalizing window into some masculine cleavage – even some of the most diehard Thom fans. de Browne in the audience seemed outraged. Maybe the menswear revolution is accelerating too fast for them?
Although punk and luxury are always at odds (while its values can be morally demanding, punk is inherently economically inclusive, anyone can be a punk, and luxury is inherently exclusive), the aggressively spiky hairstyle made it clear that this collection was channeling a confrontational, punk-adjacent spirit. Moving almost into the territory of self-parody, Thom Browne celebrates the craftsmanship and tradition of bourgeois menswear while happily taking it down a few notches, interrogating it through the avenues of kitsch, rebellion and body-positive sex.
While the mainstream of menswear may be slow to catch up to such boldness, it’s great to see a designer with such an understanding of craftsmanship and tradition working to move the needle in a more fun direction, inclusive and imaginative.