Thom Browne Enters the Year 2132
Chris Black takes us behind the scenes at the designer's Spring 2021 collection in Los Angeles.
Photos by Chris Black, Courtesy of Thom Brown
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has been a civic treasure for decades, hosting not only the Olympic Games in 1932 but also everyone from Martin Luther King, Jr. to The Grateful Dead. The history is substantial; the structure is vast and incorporates Egyptian, Spanish, and Mediterranean Revival styles into its design. It was the perfect setting for Thom Browne’s vision for spring, as he imagined the Olympics of the future—in the year 2132, to be exact—that would take place on the moon.
When I arrived, I parked in the wrong lot, far away from the designated entrance, and as I walked along the perimeter to find the proper gate to get my COVID-19 test and N95 mask, I had some time with my thoughts. I felt excited about seeing something IRL, away from a screen. Just real-life people doing real-life things. Walking into a room full of clothes and models, something I had done so many times before without a second-thought, suddenly felt intoxicating. The atmosphere was upbeat; perhaps everyone felt the same electricity I felt, working in harmony.
All around me it was business as usual. Clothes were being steamed and pinned, hair was being done, and a producer gave instructions through a megaphone. I made my way down the endless staircase, and Thom came into view, wearing his signature short suit and bucket hat. He was in conversation with the directors while studying the playback monitors. It was time to give this thing a go.
A mix of athletes and models walked the long staircase, carrying flags, dressed in a muted color palette of the palest shades of grey, off-white, and yellow; a stark contrast against the bright red stadium seats that surrounded us. The expansive space gave the co-ed collection room to breathe, the elongated silhouettes, sometimes billowing in the wind, contrasted with reflective sunglasses that would be an obvious necessity on the surface of the moon. Watching the show unfolding in front of me in complete silence, was hypnotizing and surreal. The masks, rubber gloves, and hand sanitizer didn’t distract or impede; instead, they were a gentle but constant reminder of the times we live in and the desperate need to escape. To see something beautiful, think about what the future could be, and fantasize about hope, change, and creativity.
Looking towards the future while living in a dystopian present is a modern choice. Thom Browne always creates a distinct world of his own, but for this spring collection, his choice of one hundred years into the future was a much-needed respite. Wool, cotton, cashmere, silk, and satin took new forms and shapes under the swaying palm trees and unclouded sun.
We were all smiling under our masks. 2132 isn’t that far off.