Thom Browne New York Fashion Week Spring Summer 2014

Padded white walls, headless plaster bodies hanging from the ceiling and models doling out meds (actually white M&Ms). Had it finally come to this, had we all landed in the fashion insane asylum? One never knows the intention with designer Thom Browne, who presented his spring 2014 collection at a very creatively outfitted Chelsea art space Monday afternoon during New York Fashion Week.

"Cuckoo's Nest" couture? Not exactly. More like feminine-to-the-hilt, with models in surreal, smeared red lipstick, graying wigs and pearl-embellished hair nets.

It's never literal with Browne, more like emotional. And this collection of mostly white hobble dresses and corseted jackets with high collars got the mind racing all right. The female form was the canvas for Browne's near-surgical molding, folding, slicing, dicing, bone-corseting and surface embellishment.

Thom Browne exhibited a visually striking show somewhat reminiscent of the late Alexander McQueen - gothic, haunting and unsettling. Guests were subjected to a seemingly intentional 50-minute delay in a venue dressed up as a mental asylum with white padded walls, headless papier-mâché cadavers hanging from the ceiling and light bulbs flickering, while eerie music played in the background.

When the show began, models with smeared blood-red coloured lips moved in a dazed, constricted manner while wearing Browne's mostly all-white collection. As Robin Givhan offered, "Browne's intricate, high-minded gestures served as an invigorating reminder that fashion has the potential to tell stories and raise fundamental questions about how we live our lives."

Despite very different aesthetics, Opening Ceremony and Thom Browne were akin in offering something memorable amid a week saturated with standard runway shows and presentations. Between a crammed schedule, endless parties and attention directed towards celebrities and street style "stars", is it any wonder that one can't remember the clothes in the first place?

Credit: Zahra Kerry
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