What is New York Fashion?

The existential problem of American fashion — what is it? 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.

This week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art presents Part II of its exhibition. “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” is a bigger, flashier, more historical (but equally untraditional) survey that was introduced Monday at the Met’s Gala of Needs. 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 that redefined New York fashion, not American fashion. against that.

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

That’s what Brown described in the preview as “a protruding toy island.” 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.”

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

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

It all started with the gray tailored suit that Mr. Brown built his business on. A twist to the mid-century cog-in-the-machine classic, his version is mismatched and patched Harris his tweed, with vivid stripes in insets or detailing his reptile his 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, all in harmony with the whole nursery rhyme. arranged and rearranged. Composition for both men and women. (Mr. Brown left out the gender segregation on his show years ago.)

The suit was also the “adult” doppelgänger in the room, a socially acceptable and responsible version of myself to wear for the world, simply a prelude to the inner child’s parade. A surrealist version of the same outfit stitched together from a toybox memory. So white shirt sleeves became slinkies hanging on the floor and giant stuffed lobster claws. Cable her knitted 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 out of his blocks of hand-painted children’s alphabets. 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 out of 7th Avenue and the clothing district, not a couture atelier or art school. To prove otherwise, Mr. Brown, he took it upon himself to prove that he could 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. He was wearing such unusual clothes that I thought as I sat down. Yep, maybe that’s exactly the kind of clothing that solves my “what am I going to wear when I get back to work?” Conundrum.

But he’s also inexcusably ridiculous with his flight of fancy fantasies that give those suits life and a sort of soul.The ability to do it — soaring sales and quirkiness — is what New York gave us. heVia Notre Dame and Allentown, Pennsylvania, he arrived as a misfit toy, with no formal fashion training.

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 a completely different kind of book: NK Jemisin’s urban fantasy ode to New York, “The City We Became.” .

A place where “reality and legend” interweave.

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