Thom Browne has been credited, in part, with reviving interest in menswear - or maybe that should be in designer menswear, with all its flounces, conceptual conceits and tabloid-pleasing gewgaws. S/S 2010 at first glance seemed no exception as Browne once more sent out his twisted, postmodern view of All-American Classics - but, as the show progressed, something was different. Perhaps it was down to his recent experiences at Moncler, the French luxury skiwear house who turned to Browne to inject a fashion factor to its haut sportif Gamme Rouge line. Perhaps it was down to simple economics: not that many people can be dropping four grand on Browne's hand-tailored suits anymore, and the company is reportedly working to create a lower-priced line to shore up the main business. Whatever was tugging at his shirttails, it lead to Browne loosening up and - most importantly - moving on.
Abbreviation is always key - this is the designer who made three-quarter length trousers a must-have at every echelon of fashion. Accordingly, there was much play with slicing and dicing: cuffs poking from sleeves, trousers hacked into shorts, a spencer-length hooded cape-coat slung over a sliced blazer. For summer this flashing of flesh naturally makes more sense, coupled this season with a general lightening-up, both in Browne's tailoring (often so bombasted it seems bulletproof) and the trickiness of his garments as a whole. Although his tailoring was still tight, it hugged rather than grabbed at the body, and modernism was injected by way of shiny-nylon, sporty details and some graphic nods to Cardin and Courreges. These simple changes to his well-worn formula propelled Browne forward from his trademark grey-suited office drone circa 1956 - although not entirely into the present day. Browne's offerings are still an acquired taste (styling tricks including guy-geisha cupid's bows, mesh-swathed faces and sunglass-studded helmets didn't help matters), but with business restructuring alongside the new looks, it's entirely feasible that more than just those flood-length trews will appeal to a mainstream palette.