Thom Browne Went Co-Ed for Fall 2020
It’s hard to believe that this was Thom Browne‘s first co-ed fashion show. Ever since the American designer launched in 2006 and built a name with its old-school uniform tailoring, it never subscribed to traditional gender tropes — past seasons have seen men dancing in tutus and walking in floor-length gowns. But for Fall 2020, the label consolidated its menswear and womenswear lines into one of the first truly post-gender shows of the year.
The venue was a serene and snowy scene. As the show opened up with a string of single models wearing animal masks, the environmental commentary was made loud and clear. While other designers went a more apocalyptic and dystopian route (like Balenciaga), Browne confronted the audience with the uncomfortable reality that climate change could have on species that are least responsible. Later on, male and female models walked down in pairs wearing matching surrealist-prep looks. Long overcoats were the main theme, with the designer’s tailoring anchoring some of the more whimsical elements of the presentation which included mesh bunny ear masks and a series of leather bags in the shape of different animals from frogs to cows to elephants.
For the designer’s first combined men’s and women’s presentation, the gender statements were refreshingly subtle. While some other designers enjoy the spectacle of fashion’s gender revolution (Browne included), the show simply proved how easily men and women could wear the same look. Thom Browne removed the theatre element from the clothes themselves (the set design and Noah’s Ark choreography had that covered) and put function, nevermind gender, at the center. In the designer’s press release, it repeatedly begs the question “Which one is which?” in reference to whether the look was designed with a man or woman in mind, but what it’s really asking is “Does it even matter?”