In Paris, American designer Thom Browne presented a cirque du freak that was breathtakingly beautiful and utterly melancholy. While Browne always toys with proportions and notions of outsiderism, this collection celebrated the beauty and alienation of sticking out; “Part of Your World” from The Little fucking Mermaid, played in the venue. As a soundtrack to Browne’s dreamy idea, its longing functioned twofold: the idea of a person wishing for acceptance and as one marveling at the beauty of the weird.
Escapism is an easy direction to take in shitty hellscapes like the one we’re living, and the temptation is to stew in excess—a jillion mermaid-adjacent beauty products sold can’t be wrong. But it’s much more difficult to complicate the desire to remove oneself from comfort while also showcasing the loneliness of being an alien; it’s the essential trait manifested in most goths and the work of Tim Burton, whose wonderful Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children seemed to have influenced Browne’s runway in some way. The designer showed mermaid-hemmed beauties and dreamy moon-twins, sleeping in a bed beside a diaphanous model of Saturn; having them scuttle about and perform tweaky dance moves to show the way the bulbous, quilted boob plates reshaped the form but didn’t hinder it. To him, these ideas were about “the most amazing dreams... or nightmares,” leaving room for the duality.
Browne is always interested in playing with proportion in the form of oversized jackets and hats and the like, but this time he outdid himself, making clothes that fully transformed the body to the point of optical illusion, including stiltlike shoes that were stunning and very likely impossible to walk in outside of this one purpose, and hoods that fused the back with the top of the head. There was a traditional circus clown in the form of a gathered-tulle jacket in yellow, green, and orange; caterpillars with fluffy coats; skeleton whose bones were rendered in crystal.
And at the end? A horsey fairy type who led out a goddamn unicorn. BECAUSE EVERYONE IS SPECIAL.