Thom Browne's collections are like menswear in microcosm - with every good and bad point, and foible and fancy, intact. The eternal question is how to walk a tightrope between workaday and fancy-dress without leaning too heavily into either camp. Camp is certainly an apt phrase, because as, usual, for Autumn/Winter 2010 Thom Browne tended to err on the side of excess - thus his men came tricked out in layers of dangling racoon tails, sporting pillbox-hats and trussed up in draped apron-skirts, tweed choir-boy cassocks and corsets. Oh dear. At the same time, you need to give Browne credit for jolting us out of our complacency, and being so willing to provoke and push buttons - especially in a time when designs of both mens and womenswear are timidly offering stable classics in lieu or rocking the retail boat. Browne, of course, has legions of fans for his more straightforward suiting - and a raft of commercial collaborations with the likes of Moncler and Brooks Brothers to shore up his own-label business - and can afford to drift into the realms of the unwearable and pressworthy in his signature presentation. With Browne, the important thing it to turn a blind eye to the rather crass and childish excesses, and focus on the details. In this show, Browne made a strong and clever play on proportion. This is always a strong point - the reason those shrunken suits look quite so right is Browne's canny knack for shaving just the right amount off the cuff and twitching the seams just so - but this season, he was even bolder than usual. Rather than cleaving close against the body, Browne bulked out his shapes - one coat emerged like a macro version of his blazer, complete with giant darts, oversized pockets and even a neatly-creased pocket square. Elsewhere, firm padding and tailoring fashioned broad, manly shoulders (perhaps making up for the pillboxes and headscarves above), Prince-of-Wales check was blown up across overcoats, and details were enlarged to gargantuan proportions - zippers magnified with inch-wide teeth, martingale half-belts rendered wide as Japanese obis and sweaters elongated into floor-length robes. The lessons he's learnt at Moncler Gamme Bleu came in useful with a series of down jackets, the best quilted into dark-light baize cloth chevrons with matching shorts, and a raft of chic chunky knitwear, including knockout fair-isles with intricate intarsia patterns. And, for those very few men with a spare few grand to drop on a sensational hand-tailored overcoat, Browne left you spoiled for choice. Navy or grey, single or double-breasted - or even a hooded duffle with braided tricolour toggles for the adventurous - each one was was an impeccable potential investment in style, rather than fashion.
Camp is certainly an apt phrase, because as, usual, for Autumn/Winter 2010 Thom Browne tended to err on the side of excess.