Thom Browne is the darling of contemporary menswear, and his influence can be seen everywhere - from the proliferation of cropped trousers are bared ankles, to a general tightening of tailoring, arguably even to butcher models on the catwalk (Browne tends to prefer to pack the beefier blokes into his shrunken suiting). This is undoubtedly the reason Moncler recruited him to 'fash up' their Gamme Bleu menswear range - the same tactic employed to great effect by Brooks Brothers, whose A/W 2010 Black Fleece presentation takes place tomorrow. As ever, for Moncler Gamme Bleu's A/W 2010 collection it was far more about Thom Browne 'doing' Moncler than stamping an individual identity on the brand (cannily ensuring he'll be around at the label for quite a while). Thus, we got Browne's oft-perverse uniformity to start, in a tableau vivant of fifty slumbering models identically attired in sleeping-caps and grey tricolour-strapped blankets. Then, the action started, and a bugle called his models into action - who leapt up, grabbed their kit-bags and each began to dress in their individual outfits for the collection. It sounds hammy and cliche, but in a perfect counter-argument to constant live-streaming of fashion shows, you had to be there to really appreciate how magical it was. As performance, it was riveting, and as fashion show, it worked equally well - also illustrating Browne's seeming ease in surrendering dressing duties to the models themselves - something most designers agonise over backstage, although admittedly, each boy was tweaked to perfection by shorts-suited 'lieutenants' before making their rounds. As for the clothes themselves, they were pretty much as expected - down-filled wool sliced into the short shapes Browne is known for, puffy shorts worn over thermal suiting and a clever use of red white and blue checks on nylon. Cable-knits cropped up, in chunky cashmere jumpers and thick bi-colour scarves, as did thermals underwear-as-outerwear (Moncler was always well-placed to capitalise on the inevitable winter urge to wrap up warm), and Browne even did clever things with ski-boots, cutting them thigh-high to supersede his gaitered socks. The final coat, in wool with beaver-fur raglan sleeves, was a stand-out in any collection. But rather than individual pieces, this show was notable for how sharp and wearable everything looked - managing to avoid the somewhat naff allusions of Moncler old, and also dodge some of the histrionic hysteria which has often marred Browne's own-label presentations. This collection proved sportswear doesn't have to be boring - and, come to think of it, neither does a fashion show.
As ever, for Moncler Gamme Bleu's A/W 2010 collection it was far more about Thom Browne 'doing' Moncler than stamping an individual identity on the brand.