Previous Thom Browne shows have probably made some wary of the machinations of the designer’s mind. Always brilliant yet often haunting, what goes on inside his head may well be a mystery better left unsolved. The S/S 17 show however, was singular, even for his canon, in a way which instantly clicked for everyone in the audience. I can’t speak for every guest but I’ll go ahead and try. Oh yes, the collective thinking went, this is about pure unadulterated joy. Everyone was grinning and didn’t stop until they stepped outside, out of Browne’s head and back into the real world. It was bonkers and it made perfect sense.
Bright tiles straight out of a Hockney swimming pool lined the floor and walls, recreating Slim Aarons’ iconic photograph of C.Z. Guest in Palm Beach. The run of the show went like this: the models teetered out in their mix-and-match heels, drowned by the sort of garish floral kaftans and matching shower caps in which you secretly wish you’ll one day spend all your days in. They were circled by some cool cats - and by cats I mean models in seersucker wetsuits with giant mink cat heads, complete with tails. Suddenly, the Goddess appeared in a silver sequin Daiquiri of a gown, draped over one shoulder, while the other one was dressed for work in stripes and tie. She was wearing a mirror-embroidered headpiece in the likeness of Hector, Thom Browne’s dog, who earlier made the front row rounds to greet guests and melt hearts. Hypnotised, they all disrobed to reveal some of the most incredible work that Browne and his team have ever created. I won’t start describing each one, for I couldn’t possibly do them all justice. Suffice to say, each trompe l’oeil dress was a complete outfit in one, each part individually and exquisitely rendered, a long zip along the back ensuring they were ready to zip’n’go. There were satin palm appliqués and 3D palm fronds embroidered on tweed that would make Lily Pulitzer proud. There were fifties linoleum tablecloth prints - but on acid. “Shame you can only wear them once”, my seatmate lamented. And just like that, they zipped themselves out and lounged poolside in signature red, white and blue striped bathing suits. Of course that was when the Goddess reappeared, the disco tune kicked in, the lights lowered and Hector the headpiece - atop the Goddess’s head - turned into a disco ball.
It was both escapism and an escape plan for when things turn really sour out there in the real world. Just think of Disco Hector and dance.