What is New York fashion?

the existential problem of american fashion – what is that? can it be defined? How does it relate to America’s changing identity?—was involved in the cultural conversation at the Costume His Institute show in the fall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in September.

It’s about to happen again this week when the Metropolitan Museum of Art unveils Part II of its exhibition. “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” is a bigger, flashier, more historical (but equally untraditional) survey introduced at Monday’s mandatory Met His Gala. night.

But in something of a prelude to the event, designer Thom Browne offered his take on the subject in the form of a fall collection. new york fashion.

And just how that relates to the promise and charm of the city itself.

That’s where Brown characterized in previews as “an island of ill-fitting toys.” That is, a private home that snuggles up to square pegs, weirdos and dreamers, and bland people in the crowd. A place that gives them the freedom to find bliss, embrace their ‘true selves’, and fly the freak flag.

Then, to illustrate his point, he invited 500 Steiff teddy bears into the Javits Center room, dressed them in little gray shorts suits (his brand signature and personal uniform), seated in 500 perfectly arranged chairs presided over by With matching shorts, high heels, his boots, and a towering hat, the King of Bears emote and held a “Teddy Talk.”

new york fashion Vanessa Friedman, a fashion critic for The New York Times, said that Brown sees New York fashion as an island of protruding toys, home to square pegs, an island of individuals that resists the freaks and dreamers, the insipids of the crowd. (Simbalase Cha/New York Times)

Sometimes the show is just a way to sell clothes, sometimes it’s the whole camp intellectual discourse.

(In case you’re wondering, there were also real guests like Danai Gurira, John Baptiste, David Harbour, Amandla Stenberg, all wearing the same shrunken Thom Browne suit, and their Many were clutching small teddy bear bags.)

It started with a gray tailored suit. Brown Twisted versions of midcentury mechanical classics in mismatched and patched Harris tweed, detailed with inlays or brightly striped rep tie silk. They were off enough to change the whole idea of ​​”suits” into something a little more interesting.

There were multiple variations on the theme (at least 25 shades): car coats, schoolboy jackets with gold buttons, pleated skirts, skinny trousers with large mid-calf cuffs, etc., all worthy of an entire nursery rhyme. arranged and rearranged. harmonious composition For both men and women. (Brown left out the gender segregation on his show years ago.)

The suit was also a doppelganger to the “grown-ups” in the room, a socially acceptable and responsible version of themselves to wear for the world, simply a prelude to the inner child’s parade. A surreal version of the same outfit stitched together with toybox memories. So white shirt sleeves became slinkies hanging on the floor and giant stuffed lobster claws. Cable-knit tennis his sweater turned into a giant wearable non-rubber ball.

One of the doll-like crinoline skirts was seven feet wide. The toy soldier’s top was actually a trompe l’oeil wooden box, resting on an explosive striped silk skirt. A cable-knit punch-and-sew kit gown was woven from a giant rope that weighed 80 pounds, lace-up ankles, and his boots had high heels made from hand-painted children’s alphabet his blocks. I was. Leather bags hung from the teddy bear’s legs or had wheels so they could be towed behind.

It was all a fun game (and a little Comme des Garçons) until you realized the effort put into each garment.

This, along with pop urban psychology, was a point.New York fashion is often dismissed as “commercial” rather than as “creative” as that of Paris or London. Born not in couture ateliers or art schools, but in Seventh Avenue and the clothing district. Browne took it upon himself to prove otherwise and show that you can also have a business and an imagination.

He sells suits. His look stood out, despite the fact that the suit had a pretty bad reputation recently. They weren’t exactly ordinary clothes that make you sit down and suddenly think. Conundrum.

But he’s also, sorry silly, with a flight of fancy fantasies that give those suits life and a sort of soul. Formal fashion through Notre Dame and Allentown, Pennsylvania When he arrived as an ill-fitting toy without his training, New York also gave him the ability to do it—boosting sales and being quirky. Thing.

His clothes are a reminder of what is possible. Perhaps because of that, what his show ultimately remembered was not a children’s story but an entirely different kind of book: NK Jemisin’s urban fantasy ode to New York, “The City We Became.”

A place where “reality and legend” interweave.

This article was originally published in The New York Times.

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