Thanks to Thom Browne, more and more men are embracing the beauty of skirts. The designer has defied gender constructs and societal norms with his elegant gray pleated skirt, pushing the garment into the mainstream of menswear. Men have been wearing skirts for centuries, but it’s only recently that men’s skirts in fashion have become readily available.
“I’m happy that men are more accepting of skirts and being open to more ideas. It’s such an inspiring time,” Browne told Vanity Fair at his fall 2022 runway presentation in New York on Friday evening. “I think it’s important to remember—whether it’s a skirt or whatever it is—if you want to wear it, why not? You should just do it regardless of what anybody thinks. That’s really the message of tonight’s show. It’s just being true to yourself and being confident in just being your own self. It is easier said than done, but it’s important that you eventually, in your life, do find yourself.”
Browne presented his women’s and men’s fall 2022 runway collection in New York rather than Paris to coincide with Monday’s Met Gala. His special show was a theatrical extravaganza filled with his specific, slim-fitting tailored blazers, unusual oversized silhouettes, and, of course, more men’s skirts, inspired by the Island of Misfit Toys from the 1964 stop-motion animated special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
“I always feel New York is an island of misfit toys. It’s a place where you can really be true to yourself or come to discover yourself,” Brown said backstage immediately following his presentation. “Being authentic is very important to me, and I wanted to share that but also have fun with it by having people find themselves in their toy version.”
Browne’s latest show was thought-provoking and provided unforgettable displays of fashion theater. Staged as a toy store inside the Javits Center’s massive, airy exhibition hall, the elaborate, over-the-top presentation featured 500 teddy bears meticulously dressed in a classic gray Thom Browne suit. The toy bears were placed on tiny chairs lined up in straight rows within a conference-room-inspired setting to hear a motivational “Teddy Talk” led by the “Chairbear,” who educated the crowd of bears and the real-life human guests at the show about finding one’s authentic self. The Chairbear told guests over a soundtrack that the bear-filled audience had been lost in New York until they came to Browne’s toy store “to find their true selves.”
Soon after, a parade of 25 adults, both women and men dressed in various tweed jackets mixed with silk or Mogador tipping, walked down the catwalk showcasing the designer’s impeccable suit tailoring. Next, a second procession of 25 models sauntered down, all as toy versions of the previous set of models. The conceptualized toy collection featured eye-catching use of mixed materials to piece together unlikely shapes of favorite children’s toys such as jack-in-the-box, Slinky, Raggedy Ann, and the classic wooden colored alphabet blocks, which were used as purses and platform shoes.